HAVING informed my other half that our Valentine’s date would be doubling up as a restaurant review, I thought Selby’s Olive Branch would present an appropriate peace offering.

But, pulling up outside, next to the white-washed windows of a closed-down Bargain World on the town’s main drag, it didn’t really feel like love was in the air.

The High Street has never really been noted for its culinary offerings either although, admittedly, I have never tried Selby Fried Chicken two doors down or the adjacent Mama Mia Pizza takeaway.

Once through the doors of the Turkish eatery, though, the owners’ efforts to create a romantic setting were fully befitting of February 14.

Roses were placed on each table, complemented by balloons and napkins that were heart-shaped thanks to a spot of skilled Origami.

Giant plasma screens, on which the tide from some of the world’s most beautiful beaches washed in and lakes rippled underneath equally picturesque mountain settings, also helped add to the amorous ambience.

Indeed, on any given night, the restaurant provides an excellent environment in which to dine.

Wooden tables and floors, along with wood-brick clad walls make for a welcoming setting, as does the well-stocked, unobtrusive, cosy corner bar while the toilets, so often an off-putting, oversight in many otherwise top-class restaurants, are five-star hotel standard.

The whole place still looks brand new despite having now been open since 2016 and the family-managed Olive Branch group clearly pride themselves on appearance with Selby adding to a portfolio, built up over the last decade, that includes Turkish and Mediterranean restaurants in Leeds city centre, Alwoodley, Hebden Bridge, Ilkley, Roundhay and Sowerby Bridge

Having been offered a choice of where we wanted to sit on a popular and busy night, we were given a drinks menu that contained 14 cocktails and 25 different wines, along with six sparkling and champagne options.

Instead, I opted for the Istanbul-brewed Efes Draught lager and was very pleased when it was served in a frozen pint glass.

For starters, my choice was Garlic King Prawns with butter, tomato sauce, garlic and mushrooms.

The garlic level was spot on – just enough to give the dish a kick, but stopping short of warding off the threat of vampires more than 24 hours later.

Small, whole mushrooms would have been preferable to slices though and the prawns might have been more king-sized.

My Valentine, meanwhile, settled on Falafel with crushed chick peas, herbs and garlic, served on a bed of hummus with homemade bread.

She was really impressed with the spice level and happy with the consistency of the generous portion of hummus.

The accompanying bread was also sufficient for us to share.

My main course selection was a Chargrilled Mixed Grill, which was an assortment of kebabs including lamb shish, kofte, chicken shish and pirzola, served with salad, bulgar and cacik.

The meal only included one small flat bread, though, which was unnecessarily frugal, given the amount of meat on the plate.

In contrast, there was plenty of cacik – the cucumber-and-herb based yoghurt, which was used to bulk up each starter and main we ordered.

Highlights were the crispy pirzola (lamb chop) and well-seasoned kofte (meatloaf), but the chicken, although perfectly-cooked, was a little bland and needed more flavour, while the shish was tasty, but a bit on the tough side.

The bulgar – a kind of Turkish halfway house between rice and couscous – had a satisfying fluffy texture and a pot of chilli sauce proved an inspired addition too, as did a side order of homemade hand-cut chips.

Pleasingly, there were no fries on the menu.

For her main, Nikki went for Tavuk Izgara, which was marinated chicken breast served with salad, bulgur and cacik.

There were the same reservations I had about the strength of the marinade, but the sizeable serving meant she skipped dessert and enjoyed a typically, well-presented Latte instead.

Against the spirit of the evening, though, she refused to share the two cocoa-covered nuts that came with the coffee.

I did, however, reciprocate such mean-spiritedness when my dessert arrived.

There were only four choices for a final course and two of those were chocolate cakes – one orange and the other fudge.

But, truly, you only need one option anyway in a good Turkish restaurant.

Add two letters to the rich, sweet pastry Baklava and you have an item of clothing that could pull the wool over somebody’s eyes.

But there was no deception involved here.

The filo was layered perfectly and the amount of syrup ensured highly-satisfying succulence.

Nuts were also chopped to the right level of fineness and the scoop of vanilla ice cream was a great augmentation, as were the bananas and kiwi fruit slices probably, although I’m not a fan of either fruit.

At the end of our night, we were then provided with complimentary shots of Limoncello, which were a nice and potent nightcap and compensated somewhat for the quality of service, which might have been a little more attentive.

For significant periods of time, the waiting staff were not visible and it took longer than is normally acceptable to attract somebody’s attention for a second drink.

Then, when it came, I was served and charged for a large beer when I had requested a small one.

But all employees were, in keeping with the venue, smart and friendly.

Our final bill, including £19 for drinks (two beers, one vodka tonic and a coffee), was £65.25.

T: 01757 428010

W: theolivebranchrestaurants.com/selby/

Food: Decent 3/5

Ambience: Welcoming 4/5

Service: Hit and miss 3/5

Value: Reasonable 3/5

All reviews are independent, conducted anonymously and paid for by The Press