A glamorous blonde by the window, who looks far too slender to get through the hearty plate in front of her, is trying to attract our attention.
My husband is preening himself until we realise she only wants to let us know the hazard lights on our car outside on Fulwood Road have started flashing.
We smile our thanks, then concentrate on choosing our lunchtime tipple. I can’t decide which red to go for. But Jonnie Higginbotton, the convivial, rosy-cheeked host, at Broomhill’s West 10 wine bar, splashes three different varieties into glasses for me to choose from.
I slurp away until I find one that perfectly tickles both palate and fancy; an Italian Conviviale Primativo full of juicy berry flavours at a modest £4.50. Considering I’ve already collectively supped about half a glass of ‘samples’, that’s great value.
There’s no draught beer (wine bar alcohol licenses doesn’t cover it) but the husband’s happy with a bottle of Bradfield Farmer’s Blonde, £3.50.
Then we turn our focus to the Ranmoor eaterie’s lunchtime menu which reads like a long list of all the things we love, imaginatively paired; scallops, pan seared, with cauliflower puree and caper and raisin dressing, crispy belly pork with an Asian vegetable salad, poached pear with goat’s cheese and a black olive and walnut dressing... And that’s just the starters.
There are also sandwiches that sound more like meals, unusual and appetising-sounding pastas and salads and a fabulous array of main dishes priced from a reasonable £8 (poached egg-topped smoked salmon on toasted brioche with hollandaise) to £12 moules mariniere or salt and vinegar-battered cod with chips and mushy peas).
As we share a £4 bowl of whitebait for starters, someone says something about the Human League and suddenly we realise who the woman in the window is; it’s Susan Sulley. You know; the blonde one, most famous for singing about being a waitress in a cocktail bar.
We fall into conversation and she is lovely. So is her partner Martin. So is the whitebait, which had been dipped in the merest slick of batter before it was fried to the perfect crunch. It comes with a lovely aioli and slices of lemon (wedges would have been better, but let’s not quibble).
Between bites, I confess to Susan that me and my mate, fellow Crazy Daisy-goers, were dead jealous that she and Joanne Catherall got plucked from the club’s dance floor by Phil Oakey, not us. She is very sweet about it. The band are still touring, she says, but this year they have Christmas off, hence her leisurely lunch at the wine bar that is her local. Come New Year’s Eve, Susan will be crooning Don’t You Want Me all over behind the bar in an impromptu singalong with Jonnie.
West 20, named after its postcode and owned by Jonnie since 2002, has a great atmosphere even when there is no party. At weekends the vibe is laid-back and cosy. We ate perched at the bar downstairs.
The food is also good (head chef James Mellor is, who once worked at the famed Langhams Brasserie in London and for Sheffield’s Richard Smith) - and the prices are very reasonable. The husband munched contentedly on a hunky £7 sandwich of hot chicken, paprika-infused chorizo and pesto on malted granary with bronzed skinny chips. And my £12 chicken Caesar salad had been fancied up with anchovies, crumbles of bacon, crispy croutons, shavings of parmesan and a perfectly-done poached egg. The bill is a round £31 and worth every penny.
WHEN AND WHERE
West 10 Wine Bar,
376 Fulwood Road,
Tel: 0114 2309190
Open: Monday to Saturday 11am-midnight. Lunch served Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm, dinner Tues-Sat 5.30-9pm
My scores out of five: