Feb 27 2008 by Joanne Kelly, Midweek Visiter
SPARKLING chandeliers, lush brown leather chairs and fresh pink flowers greeted me as I walk through the grand, wooden doors of the Latin Lounge.
The luxurious decor mingles nicely with a laid back, relaxed atmosphere. Soulful songster Lemar plays in the background as we approach the bar.
Our smiley waitress Sammy chats to my colleague Kat and me, as we order drinks. We’re tempted by the £10.95 wine of the month deal but stick to soft drinks.
We’re left to choose a table and get settled. I end up facing a wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors, which give the restaurant a light, airy, spacious feel.
Elegant pink letters have been written across the mirrors reading “Oysters and Champagne” and various other mouth-watering specials.
We’re going back to the office after eating, so we steer clear of champagne and stick to mineral water - although I’m already planning a return trip with the boyfriend.
The Latin Lounge’s lunch menu is fantastically varied. Everything from sirloin steak to a cheese jacket potato.
You could meet up here for a swish, romantic lunch with a certain someone or nip in on your dinner break for a quick bite.
I’m impressed with the set menu. Starters at £3.25 include soup of the day with crusty bread or homemade pate served with French toast.
There’s five mains to choose from. As a vegetarian, I pick the mushroom and red pepper stroganoff while Kat opts for the chicken strips in a herb, tomato sauce with Penne pasta.
There’s also a fancy fish and chips, an 8oz sirloin steak and gammon, all for a respectable £6.95 - or you can order a starter and a main for £8.95.
Our dishes arrive. My creamy stroganoff on fluffy white rice is jazzed up with stripes of balsamic vinegar and finished off with a fresh green leaf.
The mellow, creamy texture and taste of the mushrooms and sauce are given an interesting twist by the peppers, which keeps my fork moving between meal and mouth.
The portions are generous but my plate ends up empty - as does Kat’s.
If a full meal is a bit filling, you could go for French style sandwich including minute steak with onion or smoked salmon with cream cheese for £4.95.
The Latin Lounge opened its doors in June with mother and daughter, Carol and Jenny, at the helm.
Carol said: “We wanted to create a chill out place. We have customers who come in for a cup of coffee and stay for hours reading the paper.
“We also run salsa classes on Monday nights and singles evenings on the last Friday of every month - the last one was sold out.
“We’re taking part in the Southport Jazz Festival and we’ve got our first Burlesque show on Easter Friday.”
As well as being a hub of community activity, the Latin Lounge offers an interesting Mediterranean menu from 5pm until late.
It has a tapas flavour, ideal for a table full of friends sharing lots of dishes or a couple delving into a platter between them.
Dishes include slices of Cumberland sausage on a leak and red onion relish (£2.50), baby pork ribs in a tomato and honey sauce (£4.50) and garlic and herb new potatoes (£2.75).
There’s also substantial main courses for those who don’t want to share food - pan fried monkfish in a sharp peppery anchovy sauce (£7.50) or seabass with lemon wedges (£7.20).
I bet a big favourite is the platter of chicken and mozzarella balls with sun dried tomatoes, bite size pieces of tuna and anchovies laced with tarragon, garlic bread, vegetable spring rolls, scampi and onion bhajis (£8.25).
Carol is also excited about their Mothers’ Day menu which includes a two course carvery for £10.95 or £4.95 for children under 12.
As I stroll back to the office, I phone my other half and suggest we try the evening menu at the weekend - and this time I’m having the champagne.