Let’s call this week’s Eating Out a parting gift.
After more than a decade of living in Preston, my friend Chris had decided to emigrate to Australia and leave behind leafy Fulwood for sunny Perth.
Having generously donated many of his possessions, from gardening tools to DVD boxsets, to me and my other half Ben in a mass home
clear-out, we felt it was only right and proper to take him out for dinner to say thank you, goodbye and bon voyage.
So, on his last night in Lancashire, the pressure was on Baffito’s to deliver a memorable meal as a parting shot from Preston.
It was perhaps a bit of a gamble as I’d never tried this dock-side restaurant out before.
I used to live in a lovely flat from which you could see the premises, but back then, it was sadly empty, the previous pub having shut down.
I always used to think it was a wasted opportunity at a nice spot, overlooking the marina, but it wasn’t until after I moved out that Baffitos opened.
We turned up without booking on a Sunday evening to find the restaurant was pretty quiet, which is probably to be expected at anywhere that offers a Sunday afternoon roast dinner menu.
The staff were friendly and let us take our pick of the tables beside the window so we could have a pleasant view of the docks while we perused the menu.
It’s a bit Tardis-like in that it’s not obvious from outside how spacious the inside is, and the décor is simple, with lots of wood panelling and jazzily-coloured wooden chairs.
The menu has a broadly Mediterranean theme but there is a lot to choose from.
Our starters came and it was clear that portion sizes were going to be generous.
My buffalo mozzarella carrozza was a gloopy, cheesy treat.
Generous balls of warm mozzarella came coated in crunchy breadcrumbs with a green salad and, best of all, a wonderful home-made pesto dip which was packed with basil, pine-nuts and really fresh flavours.
The only downside – and it’s not a bad one really – was they were quite a filling way to start.
Ben also went for something cheesy, though his goat’s cheese parcels were more delicate and less substantial.
The cheese was wrapped and baked in thin slivers of Parma ham and served on a bed of salad, and were very moreish.
Chris soon got stuck right in with the homemade chicken liver pate, which had a lovely smooth texture and hearty flavour, but with two pots of pate on the plate to clear, he soon ran out of toast to mop it up with.
Happily, after a short wait, our waiter brought some extra, warm slices straight from the oven at no extra charge for him to polish it off.
For mains, there was a good choice of pizzas and pastas and other options from burgers through to sharing boards.
My spaghetti diavola had a surprising but enjoyable amount of spice to liven up the dish.
It came with plenty of small chicken pieces, cherry tomatoes and a good kick of chilli – though after my hefty starters, I had to get the leftovers boxed up for lunch the next day.
Ben went old-school with one of his favourites, lasagne.
And he was pleased that he did – it was a hearty, meaty affair which felt home-cooked and authentic.
Despite having consumed a sizeable amount of pate and extra toast, Chris took on the chicken and mushroom risotto.
Risotto can often be a filling option, but this well-presented dish got it just right and he was left with a clean plate – though none of us had any room for pudding.
The meal for the three, of us plus three glasses of wine and two soft drinks, was great value at £56.
We even headed next door to Baffito’s bar for a final parting drink, where the bar manager very helpfully retuned the Sky box so we could watch the England’s women’s quarter-final at Euro 2017.
It’ll be some time before our Aussie-bound friend joins us on another Eating Out.
Thankfully, Baffito’s offered us an enjoyable end to his time spent in Preston.