LOOKING to try out one of Chester's home-grown restaurants for a belated Valentine's meal, boyfriend Jon and I decided to go to Club Globe - one of those places we've often walked past but never got round to visiting.
And, as luck would have it, the night we wanted to go - Tuesday - offers a very attractive set meal, giving two courses each plus a bottle of wine for £30 a couple. Surely worth a try, we thought.
The first decision of the night was taken in front of the wardrobe - what to wear? Eventually I settled for something on the smart side of smart-casual and it seemed like the other customers - a family of adults quietly celebrating a birthday and a student couple - had concluded the same.
To listen to the staff, though, you would have thought Jon and I had strolled into the Ritz, swung our muddy trainers onto the leather seats and snapped our fingers calling for 'gah-son.'
You see, we dared to turn down their offer of a drink in the bar before going into the restaurant, saying that as Jon was driving and we were hungry, we would prefer to go straight to our table.
Bad move - as we settled down at our table, the Maitre d' hurried across to tell us that customers should sit in the bar to look at the menu, and are to be brought through when their food is ready.
Feeling completely unabashed at not conforming to protocol, we stayed put, and wondered why it really mattered to them where we read the menus?
The staff also managed to spoil an otherwise perfect meal. There didn't seem to be any system assigning one waitress to each area of the restaurant.
This meant as we chatted and tucked into the delicious food, waitress after waitress interrupted us mid-mouthful to ask how we were.
No sooner had we fended off one over-caring waitress than another would return to top up our wine glasses, interrupting our conversation again and again as we told each of them that Jon was driving and couldn't have any more wine.
Perhaps this is a sign of thorough customer service, but the laughable thing is that the service wasn't really that good. Firmly announcing 'the pork' one of our many waitresses placed a distinctly bird-shaped dish in front of Jon, and then gave me his fillet of pork.
Not wanting to hurt her feelings, we waited until her back was turned before swapping. Later, one of them had no qualms about telling us that there was no printed dessert menu for the night because they were using up the leftovers from the Valentine's Day menu the night before.
Now that's what I call quality. I recognise that each customer is different, and one diner's attentive waitress is another's pretentious annoyance. But I do believe that restaurants of all kinds should make the effort to accommodate the customers who keep them in business.
The rude, inflexible attitude of the Maitre d' and the disruptive waiting staff completely overshadowed some great work done by the kitchen staff that night, who produced an imaginative set menu with tasty, filling and varied dishes.
Our starter was two dainty slices of cod on a bed of lentils, followed by corn-fed chicken with sweet potato and rosemary mash and pork fillet with a delicious creamy sauce which we unfortunately never identified, and accompanying vegetables which were cooked just right.
The 'leftover' chocolate and Bailey's torte and chocolate and orange mousse dessert were both superbly rich and wickedly chocolatey, plus very good value at just a couple of pounds each.
For non-Tuesday diners, the standard menu sees old classics with a twist, like Greenland haddock coated in homemade beer batter and served with hand cut chips. Unusual dishes, like the prawn laksa and Caribbean pork loin accompany pasta dishes which give away Club Globe's links with Pastarazzi.
Club Globe has got the food and surroundings for a lovely meal out, it is in a prime location for development and has the potential to become one of the fine independent eateries that Chester is known for. But unless it changes its staff's attitude sharpish, it risks alienating its customers completely.
Address: Club Globe, Steam Mill Street, Chester.
Telephone: 01244 340417
Open Monday through Saturday 11am to 12am. (Closed Sunday). Live music every Friday and Saturday. Discounts and special events for regular diners who join the membership scheme.
Price: Dinner and wine for 2, £45-70. Tuesday nights offer £30 per couple for two courses and a bottle of house wine.
Best thing: Relaxed atmosphere with fitting decor and good, but unobtrusive, background music.
Worst thing: Staff think the restaurant is more exclusive than it is.
Would suit: Thick-skinned Cestrians, business diners.
NICE FOOD: Club Globe on Chester's canalside, has the potential to become a fine independent eaterie. Service takes the edge off a great meal