OK, I admit it - I'm a planner. My diary is full of dates, appointments etc, neatly written out months in advance, I can't help it - I get it from my Mum.
So a meal with my parents at Italian restaurant, Bollicini, in Rufus Court, had been pencilled in for a good few weeks; we had arranged to meet to discuss another important date in my diary - my wedding.
I had even planned to be a good bride-to-be and choose Bollicini's low calorie menu - after all, if you've seen one Italian menu you've seen them all, right?
How wrong I was. There wasn't a lasagne or pizza in sight - this was different, and I liked it.
The restaurant was quiet, so we were mildly concerned when we were seated in close proximity to four young professionals.
As usual we spent the first few minutes catching up, in particular Mum and I discussed our wed-ding dress shopping spree, planned for the next day. We were pleased a jug of water arrived without us having to ask, even though we'd ordered a couple of soft drinks (£1.50) and a small glass of house wine (£2.50 for 125ml).
There was no sign of a low calorie menu, but I soon realised that to have gone for that would have been like buying my wedding dress from Topshop - affordable and fashionable - but would it make me feel like a princess?
Luckily I had left my fiancé at home - my indecisiveness drives him round the bend and, as usual, I was spoilt for choice over what to order. Starter-wise I was drawn to the millefoglie di melanzane con bufala (rice spaghetti with aubergines and buffalo mozzarella £5.50) but having chosen pasta for my main course, I went for bruschetta at £3.50.
Attracted by the smoked cheese, Mum picked lasagnetta di carasau con scamorza e rucola (carasau bread with melted smoked cheese and rocket, £6.95). Dad chose spiedino di gambero fritto (fried prawn kebab with salad and crushed olives, £6.20).
The noise level rose as more people arrived, the lights were lowered and the music adjusted accordingly. While Mum and I discussed taffeta, tulle and tiaras Dad sat back and people-watched, a favourite past time of his.
My Italian is limited so I was interested to note that translated, Bollicini means little bubbles, which seems appropriate given the extensive wine list available - in particular the Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne at £200!
We chose one of the three house whites on offer, the Villa Rosa Chardonnay, quite reasonably priced, we thought, at £11.95, and easy on the palate.
Our starters arrived promptly. There were three bruschetta on my plate, Dad had two kebabs of king prawn, and Mum thought her portion very generous - so much so Dad and I (willingly) had to come to her aid. The prawns were plump and juicy and although not a fan of smoked cheese, I loved Mum's starter. The crispness of the bread combined perfectly with the gooey cheese and the rocket and sun-dried tomatoes added flavour. My bruschetta was good, the tomatoes were fresh and there was enough garlic to give a tang without putting my tastebuds out of action for the rest of the evening.
The starters were cleared promptly and during the short period before our mains arrived we noticed the restaurant was now almost full. The lights were down low, the atmosphere intimate and the gentle hum of people chatting blended with the music.
As well as my penne pasta with duck in a ragu sauce (£7.95), we'd ordered entrecote alla birra (ribeye steak in beer with onion, celery, carrot and tomato sauce, £15.50) and scaloppa di salmone con nocciole e melanzane (salmon steak with hazelnut and aubergines, £15.95). Accompaniments weren't included, so I ordered garlic bread (£2.20) to go with my pasta and my parents shared chipped potatoes and fresh salad, both £2.50.
The ragu sauce didn't contain as many tomatoes as I expected. However the mild, slightly creamy flavour of the sauce enhanced the tasty, tender duck chunks, complemented by fresh shavings of Parmesan.
Mine was lovely but I did suffer a pang of food envy when I saw the other dishes. Dad's steak was possibly the nicest steak I have tasted. He likes it cooked medium-well and it was cooked through, but tender at the same time - impressive.
The salmon, sat on a mixture of julienne vegetables, was also perfectly cooked and the hazelnut crumb on top added an extra dimension to a simple dish. We soon realised we didn't need the generous side orders that arrived - the three pieces of garlic bread, large bowl of chips and equally large bowl of salad, tossed in a light dressing, were delicious but went unfinished.
During our starters we'd been asked if our food was OK. This time the maitre d' specifically asked if the steak was cooked enough.
Rather ungraciously we could only nod and mumble through mouthfuls of food.
Having finished my pasta, I glanced at my watch. Just over an hour had passed since we sat down. It felt like longer, but in a good way.
Desserts beckoned and Mum ventured away from her old favourite of tiramisu and chose the chocolate soufflé, which the menu said we should allow 15 minutes to cook. With the wedding diet well and truly out the window, I picked the white chocolate mousse.
Exactly 15 minutes later our desserts arrived immaculately presented, as everything had been throughout our meal.
Before the plates had been set down Dad, who claims he doesn't have a sweet tooth, had asked for an extra spoon...
Mum's soufflé oozed rich chocolate sauce over a gooey sweet sponge - heavenly - although my mousse felt a bit cold and hard in the centre, possibly from not being taken out of the fridge early enough. But this failed to deter Dad, who was paying far too much attention to it for my liking. I couldn't blame him, the creamy-chocolately concoction was divine.
We adjourned upstairs to the chic bar area for coffee (£2) which was buzzing with trendy city drinkers sipping exotic cocktails. So as the wed-ding talk continued, Dad did a bit more people-watching while I, pleasantly stuffed, wondered if I would fit into any wedding dresses tomorrow...
* Bollicini Restaurant & Bar, 2 Rufus Court, Northgate Street, Chester,
* Tel: 01244 329932, www.bollicini.co.uk
* Cost: £96 for three starters and mains, two desserts, bottle of wine, small glass of wine, two soft drinks, two coffees.
* Best bits: Excellent service, quality of food, good disabled access, low calorie menu - £14.95 for three courses.
* Worst bits: Vegetarians could do with one or two more options.
* Would suit: City revellers wanting a chic place to eat or drink (or both).