Despite living just a few miles away from the Capri Italian restaurant I must admit I have never visited it before.
Set back off Bridge Road in Horbury, (or is it Middlestown - the sign for the ‘border’ stands a few feet before the restaurant?), it was, in the midst of time a transport cafe and ice cream parlour and the favourite hang-out of the local youth in the 1950s.
Decades later it has transformed into a rather smart family-owned restaurant which has been open in its current guise since 1996.
We arrived unannounced one Sunday evening, expecting it to be reasonably quiet (I later learned that they have a policy of no-booking for all but large parties ).
The reality was completely different. Two large groups of well-behaved, though very scantily-clad, teenagers were enjoying birthday celebrations and the restaurant was almost full: families and couples taking up most of the remaining tables.
Accommodating staff managed to squeeze us in and, despite the number of customers we were soon handed a menu and our drinks order taken.
Capri has a really good vibe and the legions of smartly-dressed and very attentive waiting staff (the men wear waistcoats and snazzy ties, the women smart black skirts and white shirts) seem really happy at their work as they scurry about, taking orders, bringing out dishes and generally buzzing about the place.
Beautifully-decorated in a retro-style, with well spaced out tables, the atmosphere is lively and noisy though not unpleasantly so - although the discordant music was not really to our taste.
A complementary bread basket was placed on the table as we looked through the menu though olive oil and balsamic vinegar would have been preferable to the pats of butter supplied.
There’s an extensive menu with, of course the obligatory pasta and pizza very much in abundance - 14 kinds of pasta and 14 kinds of pizza plus vegetarian options, if we’re counting.
There’s much more to Italian cuisine than pizza and pasta though.
Noted for its regional diversity and judicious use of fresh fish, tomatoes, lemon and garlic, it seemed a shame not to sample some of the more exotic offerings. Chicken, veal, fish and beef in a variety of different guises made for difficult choices - but more of that later, we’ve the starters to contend with first.
As I’d determined to leave room for a sweet course I opted for a light seafood salad marinated in oil, lemon juice and white wine vinegar (£6.10).
Although the portion was generous and I’d no complaints about the quality of the seafood, the white wine vinegar overpowered the lemon and oil and drowned out the taste.
My dining companion was a bit more adventurous and so plumped for pancake stuffed with chicken and mushroom in a creamy sauce (£6.10). It was declared delicious - so much so he was still raving about it the following day.
My main course was recommended by our waiter after my first choice ippoglosso (halibut) was off the menu. Sticking with the fishy-theme he suggested sea bass served with monkfish scallops (£16.95) - a suggestion I was happy to go along with - he’s the expert, right?
My companion, who has a penchant for large slabs of meat had a hard time deciding between the different cuts of steak on the menu. A grilled fillet steak, served with tomatoes and mushrooms won the day.
Both mains arrived in double-quick time and were piping hot - the sea bass accompanied by a dish of al-dente vegetables, the steak with chips.
I was most impressed by the large portion of sea bass and the scallops were juicy and just the right size.
My meat-eating mate devoured the steak - but not before I had managed to snaffle a forkful - and was equally enamoured.
As anticipated, my judicious choice of starter allowed me to contemplate a dessert and the menu was duly offered.
As is usually the case I was spoiled for choice, most of my all time favourites were represented there -the majority’ though not all, homemade.
Back to those in the know for advice.
This time a statuesque Portugese waitress came to the rescue pointing out the cold vanilla cream cake on the specials board - just like her mother used to make, she said.
Once again, I went with the expert and was happy enough with my choice despite its less than appetising name.
The filling was as light and fluffy as mousse and the strawberry coulis just the right side of tartness.
Chocolate cake and ice cream was my companion’s uninspired choice - I tried to steer him towards something more exciting so I could have a taste , but to no avail.
Nonetheless he enjoyed it although found it to be a little on the dry side.
There’s a well-stocked bar and a prodigious wine list with plenty of realistically priced bottles and a selection by the glass for £4.50 (£6.20 for a large one). If you’re pushing the boat out you can indulge in a bottle of Moet et Chandon but it will cost £135. We were a little more circumspect and stuck to beer. A couple of rounds and a bottle of water took the bill to a respectable and perfectly acceptable £66.05.
For those who like to eat at home, a recently-introduced delivery service has been introduced with a pretty good selection of dishes, discounted in price from the main dine-in menu plus kebabs, burgers, roast chicken and wraps. They’ll even deliver wines and beers.
In addition all other main menu dishes are available at full restaurant prices.
Now I’ve has discovered the delights of Capri I’m sure I’ll be back for a return visit some time soon.
Address: 223 Bridge Road, Horbury, Wakefield, WF4 5QA
Opening times: Mon-Fri-6-10.30pm; Sat 5.30-10.30pm; Sun noon-9pm
Tel: 01924 263090