Rather like finding some old clothes in the back of your wardrobe and remembering how much you loved them, going back to one of Lancaster’s longest standing restaurants for the first time in ages is a comforting experience.
And so it was that I visited Fortune Star in Dalton Square at the weekend for the first time in a few years.
It always surprises me how few Chinese restaurants there are in Lancaster, considering the number of Indian and Italian eateries.
Fortune Star has been an ever present during my time living in the city, and it’s the one I always turn to, safe in the knowledge you are guaranteed good food and friendly service.
Arriving on Saturday evening to an already packed restaurant reminded me how many other people in Lancaster share that view.
There were couples, families and a large group celebrating a birthday already filling most of the space.
Staff were also busy dealing with their take away customers.
We had to wait in the small seating area at the front for our table to be ready, perusing the menu and sipping drinks as we did so.
This meant we were ready to give our order before reaching our table, and the waitress took the details and then led us through.
My friend – despite not having been to Fortune Star for at least 10 years, recalled how good the mixed hors d’oeuvres starter for two was, so we decided to see if it was as good as she remembered.
For a main course, I chose the king prawn with cashew nuts while my friend went for the chicken in spicy satay sauce.
We shared a dish of noodles with bean sprouts and some egg fried rice, along with a bottle of Zinfandel rose wine.
Our starter arrived promptly – and it was huge!
The plate was piled high with about a dozen pieces of spare ribs, as well as prawn toast, seaweed, spring rolls and wan tuns.
There was also a dish of delicious sweet and sour sauce to accompany the ribs.
We set about demolishing the pile with gusto, but soon had to slow down as there was just so much – definitely a bargain at £12.
After stuffing ourselves as much as we could, the waitress offered to give us a bit of a break before bringing out the main course – they obviously know just what an effort it is to eat all those spare ribs!
When our main meals arrived, we were slightly disconcerted to find that they were also on the large size.
In fact, we could only just about squeeze all of the plates onto our table.
My king prawn dish was very tasty, and contained an impressive number of prawns, something which some restaurants scrimp on a little, as well as pieces of green pepper and other vegetables and a tasty, but mild, sauce.
My friend’s dish was on the spicy side, and packed full of chunks of chicken and vegetables.
Our dishes of noodles (very fine, with plenty of bean sprouts, and delicious) and egg fried rice were quickly polished off.
The bill came to just under £47, which we agreed was good value for the amount of food and drink we had consumed over the last couple of hours.
We were slightly surprised to see that, as far as we could tell, nothing had changed in Fortune Star for many years.
However, the decor may be the same, the menu may be the same, even the friendly staff are the same, but sometimes a lack of change isn’t a bad thing.
After all, if you’ve found a winning formula, why change it?