IF THERE was a time when I was not expecting the expected, it was at Maxwell’s Cafe in Lancaster.

There I was on a hen night with a large group of women going to a cafe? One I had never heard of? Bringing my own wine!

I was not so bothered as it was to be a fun night and having a meal and a good chat with friends was what mattered.

Hen night it may have been, but the talking point was the food – it was simply exquisite.

The first thing which was noticeable was the presentation of the food on the plate, which was artistic without being fussy.

And a big bonus point for me was that the food was á la carte style but rather than being a small mouthful, which would do nothing to fill me, there was plenty.

There is a balance between having enough food on your plate and too much that you are over-faced, but at Maxwell’s it was spot on.

So, what did I have to eat? I chose smoked salmon with a lemon new potato salad, chilli garlic dressing and poached free range-egg.  It was an amazing dish of smells, tastes and textures, which worked very well and I have never tried anything like it before.

My friend chose tomato and basil soup with homemade crusty bread, which she described as a real winter warmer because it had a hint of spice in it.

For main course I chose roast saddle of lamb with creamy mash, red wine reduction and baby vegetables. Divine, simply divine.

The lamb was cooked just right and was succulent and juicy and the red wine reduction – which came in a separate little pot - was very deep in flavour without being too rich. Again, well presented.

Despite my friend ‘never going for fish,’ she chose the panfried sea bass topped with lemon and vanilla butter accompanied by a new potato and chorizo salad. It proved to be a winner with her.

The desserts were just to die for. I always struggle to choose a dessert as I have such a sweet tooth but I had banoffee cheesecake with honeycomb ice cream.

The cheesecake was beautiful and the honeycomb ice cream was homemade by a member of staff.

My friend had the raspberry and apple crumble, which she said was very good.

The cafe is open in the evenings for private functions only, but if there is a group of you, it is well worth booking it as the whole meal is a great treat.

The menu might sound simple, but the food is far from that. The combinations are both creative and clever and the food was eaten without any grumbles from a party of 20 plus!

Total cost of meal: £50 for two starters, mains and desserts (drinks excluded).