THE last time we visited this venue, we had been attracted by a special coffee-break offer. This still exists.

A fresh doughnut plus coffee, tea or hot chocolate costs £2. As I was moving from one engagement to another and in need of sustenance, the early bird offer of any pizza or pasta between 11.30am and 2pm was a magnet.

Shambles thronged with people, but the restaurant was not as busy as might have been expected. The walls abound with prints, there is discreet music and space between tables. The premises are deceptive and stretch further back than might be imagined.

I chose a table which allowed me to see the activity in the kitchen and see what other customers were eating.

It was some time before the two assistants realised I was waiting to give my order. Two menus appeared, one showing the extensive range of items available throughout the day. No mention was made of the early bird offer at £6.95, until I asked.

I decided to have pasta with spicy sausage, smoked bacon, egg and cream, thinking that this would be a modest helping at the special rate. How wrong I was!

While my meal was being prepared, a basket of Italian bread with butter appeared. In reply to my request for water, it was provided in an earthenware jug, a change from the single glass sometimes grudgingly supplied.

The generous helping of pasta was excellent. The range of items on the general menu was comprehensive.

Starters including funghi Milanese cost £4.95, with alternatives a bit more expensive. The cheapest main course was spaghetti al marsala at £8.95.

From a comment by an assistant, it would appear that any pasta or pizza would be provided at the early-bird rate, irrespective of price. But it was impossible to detect whether the other customers were also on the early bird or had strayed on to the general menu.

Here is a business that is doing its best to attract customers outside the normal evening meal times and certainly succeeded in creating one satisfied (and overfed) customer.