MANOLY’S BROADWAY, LEIGH, SS9 1PA. 01702 475513 

IT’S been one of those restaurants I’ve always meant to go to, so when I got told I had to go and eat food for free, then write about it, (stupid job), I let out the Eureka style squeal of a glutton who has a well-ordered hierarchical list of where to overeat next.

Manoly’s was a welcoming place on a Tuesday night. The boy and I nestled in a corner, but didn’t feel on display as the only diners once the loud family who aurally blighted our arrival with their twangy moaning left us the restaurant.

I enjoyed being in the soft folds of the low-glow lighting, and eavesdropping on the comforting sounds of quiet industry coming from the kitchen.

Manoly’s decor is impeccable, and full of little Thai touches that hint at their peaceful Buddhist way of life and make you wonder why they ever uprooted and replanted themselves in Leigh.

Our eyes having feasted, next came food. Again, attention to detail raised the dining experience from generic to unique. I couldn’t tell if the crockery came from a top quality catering wholesaler or from the British Museum.

We had satay chicken to start, and Khanom Jeeb – prawn and pork dumplings in dark sweet soy sauce. I would have been happy enough with the garnish, moist curls of carrot and beetroot that stretched on forever around carved root vegetable roses. The fact the actual ordered items were utter succulence was almost unnecessary.

For main we shared a merry banquet of bowls – Weeping Tiger (grilled beef in a spicy sauce), Pla Tod Kra Tiem (fried red snapper in garlic and peppercorns), Pa ad Hed (mushrooms and bamboo shoots in yellow bean sauce), and special fried rice bursting with prawns and peas. The doggy bag we’d planned on taking home inevitably never happened.

Writing about food means it is your professional duty to do dessert.

Sigh. I was too polite to enquire about the etymology of the Nun’s Banana, but the baked fruit served in warm coconut cream with sesame seeds made me stop giggling long enough to purr into my spoon. The boy had strawberry Rossis ice-cream casually adorned by nostalgia- inducing hundreds and thousands.

The only dent in the evening was the fact I had to actively seek service to order dessert and to pay – an unwelcome diversion from our conversation, and a delay in our plan to be early to bed. Service was otherwise perfectly Thai and lovely, just not on hand in the final stages. Easily forgivable when everything else was so dreamy.