As a new mum over 40 who has been back at work for two months, I now know I have what it takes to juggle childcare and a career. So when I was invited out for a spot of networking over lunch this week and my first real ‘child-free’ meal, I jumped at the chance.
Being an older mum, running a busy household and working can be a tall order, but I’ve found what really helps is to have support, inspiration and a place to connect with other like-minded mummies.
So to get me through to the end of the week in one piece, I met up with my good friend, Jackie Marston, at San Lorenzo in the High Street, Gosforth, Newcastle, for a cheeky lunchtime treat, a natter and some networking.
Road-testing this restaurante Italiano was the highlight of my day because it offered me time to relax and take a short break from it all. It also allowed me to order whatever I fancied, safe in the knowledge that it was a (hands) free lunch. By that I mean there were no little fingers trying to poke things around on my plate.
After a warm welcome from manager Ollie, we ordered our drinks, a diet Coke and a sparkling mineral water, and my friend and I put the world to rights for a bit while perusing the extensive menu and our surroundings.
San Lorenzo offers a charming, casually elegant setting that brings all the flavours of Italy direct to the high street.
It’s fair to say the huge list of dishes certainly impressed the judges – I could have eaten anything. There was a great selection of both starters and mains with everything from steaks to porchetta.
We were served our food by supervisor, Rob, who was both friendly, polite and very attentive.
Now I love squid in all its forms, but none is more addictive than when it’s golden brown and freshly-fried and just the description of the Calamari Fritti on the menu had my tastebuds tingling.
It was a good-sized hot, crisp cluster of rings for £5.95 and was served to perfection – dusted with smoked paprika, salt and pepper, lemon and a pot of garlic aioli. The aioli and lemon provided just the right amount of zest needed for the dish.
Jackie opted for the Ali di Pollo, £5.95, Italian chicken wings tossed in garlic and parmesan with chipotle mayo. The wings were flavourful with just the right amount of kick to them.
Now given that I’m trying to shed a few pounds, I should have opted for a skinny pizza like my friend who ordered a Leggera Carne, £10.95. This is the lighter option for lunch with a house salad in the centre and topped with buffalo mozzarella.
It looked both colourful and healthy – and the verdict was that it was also delicious.
Perhaps my eyes were bigger than my belly though as I couldn’t resist the Calzone San Lorenzo, £9.95.
Calzone is my ultimate favourite dish at any Italian establishment. It’s perhaps not the most imaginative or the most healthy, but I certainly know a good one from a bad one these days.
This one tasted amazing and was stuffed with a meatball ragu, fresh chilli and large amounts of mozzarella – I was out to spoil myself. I especially loved the crispy garlic butter and parmesan crust.
Top marks to chefs Ian, David and Woijcek.
Neither one of us had room for a sweet, although I decided to top up on my caffeine levels before we left with a latte.
With two rounds of drinks, a starter and a main course each and a latte, the total bill came to just over £43.
This was my first dining experience at San Lorenzo and it certainly won’t be my last. Next time H and I visit San Lorenzo, we might even take little C with us!