NOW I admit geography has never been my best subject - flags of the world questions in pub quizzes have always defeated me. But even I know that our currently chilly county of Cheshire isn't on the Mediterranean. Nor for that matter is Leicestershire.
Nevertheless, ingredients from both English counties feature on the menu of Chester's 'Mediterranean Restaurant', Ego, as do dishes from other distinctly non-Med places like Brittany and New York.
Greek salad sits alongside Caesar salad, Italian bruschetta is served not with Italian cheeses but with Stilton, and risotto with homely smoked haddock rather than the red snapper or swordfish you might have expected.
Personally I found this disappointing. I note, however, that Ego's goal is to bring a 'holiday feel' to its diners, and it is fair to say that other menu staples such as sticky toffee pudding, banoffee pie or a steak sandwich are just as likely to be found in Ibiza or Myknonos as they are in other town centre restaurants in England and Wales.
A genuine 'holiday feel' is created by the friendly and attentive staff, however. Ego's cheerful and welcoming atmosphere soon soothed my churlishness over the menu.
Noting the small size of the bistro-style tables, I asked whether myself and my colleague, Steve, might avail ourselves of a bigger space for our 'brainstorming session' (an excuse for me to scribble notes for this review!) and the staff instantly understood the request and provided us with a table for four.
This was during a fairly busy lunchtime, so this is a big plus for businesspeople wishing to entertain a client. Ego Chester has certainly got its geography right as far as its own location is concerned - Grosvenor Street, right bang in the city centre.
And when all is said and done, I'd rather chefs knew their way round a kitchen better than their way round an atlas, and on the whole Ego's food is fresh, tasty, very well presented and served in 'just right' portions.
I started with a fig and buffalo mozzarella salad. The fresh, cool cheese contrasted well with the piquant, almost bitter fig which had been halved and char grilled. On a bed of leaves and accompanied by small vine tomatoes, the whole was served with an intriguingly flavoured hazelnut and coriander dressing.
Steve chose a selection of olives, aioli mayonnaise, salsa and hummus served with triangles of warm pitta bread - the sort of starter you can enjoy picking over while chatting. A real splash of colour, this was arguably the most truly Mediterranean of the meals we sampled.
Prepared to immerse ourselves in the Med, we both intended to opt for fish in our main courses. We're both fans of sea bass, but politeness dictated I give way to Steve, who thoroughly enjoyed his four fillets, beautifully cooked and served on a bed of courgette - the ideal vegetable accompaniment for fish, I always think.
The accompanying 'romesco salsa' really added nothing to the dish but Steve was impressed with the side order of veg - sweet carrots, snow peas and remarkably flavoursome nut-brown spuds - which offered a satisfying variety of texture as well as of taste.
My choice was the risotto of smoked haddock, which, despite its mongrel origins, proved a good one. The flakes of haddock were combined with peas and creme fraiche; creamy and heartwarming, real nursery food. I found this very welcome on a chilly winter's day.
We washed these down with a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (yes, Chilean - the wine list isn't very Mediterranean either). This bottle of Aresti Montemar was in the medium price range (£12.50). Light and rather floral, it set the taste buds on edge. I found it a good contrast to my smoked haddock.
Ego departs entirely from the Med in its dessert menu, offering little more than jolly pub fare in its stead. Where is the Greek yoghurt? The baklava? Those honey-dripped shredded wheat things you get in Turkey?
Ignoring the creme brulee and the 'selection of Cheshire farm ice cream', I went for the cheese board. Chosen to provide a mix of texture and flavours, the four varieties were obscure enough in origin to show real care in the choosing (even though two were from northern, rather than Mediterranean, France). But alas, they were served with Jacob's crackers which could have been lifted off any supermarket shelf.
Steve opted for perhaps the most interesting option, crepes with baked apples in a calvados-flavoured sauce (more ingredients from northern France). Steve liked the apples but found the crepes far too thick and chewy - the only occasion the quality of preparation let Ego down.
For an informal meal in cheerful surroundings, I'd be happy to recommend Ego Chester. The service is excellent, the food enjoyable and the location convenient. And it's not expensive - three courses times two plus a bottle of decent plonk came to £51.60. But for a true taste of the Med, you're still going to have to book yourself a cheap flight and go there.
Fig and buffalo mozzarella salad - £5.25
Warm pitta bread with olives, hummus etc - £3.50
Char grilled fillets of sea bass with romesco salsa, courgette, spring onion and pine nut salad - £13.95
Smoked haddock, pea and creme fraiche risotto - £6.95
Crepes with baked apples and calvados sauce - £3.95
Cheese and crackers - £5.50
Chilean Sauvignon Blanc - £12.50
TOTAL - £51.60
Address: Ego Mediterranean Restaurant
Grosvenor Street, Chester
Telephone: 01244 346512
Menus: a la carte and prixe fixe menus available (the latter offering two courses for £9.90, three courses for £11.90, daytimes and early evenings only)
Vegetarians: Well catered for.
Ego Chester has recently been refurbished to the tune of £50,000. Orange walls, Moorish lamps and hand-painted pots provide a Mediterranean style as ambiguous as its cuisine.