T’was raining in Hale and I was feeling a bit cack so I tried to cheer myself with an encutment in the footballer’s favourite Barber Barber. But it was full, presumably with Manchester City reserves, so I put up my brolly and plodded on down the high street passing Maseratis, Porsches and Bentleys.  My mouth was drier than an Arab’s ringpiece so I nipped into Juniper the nearest potentially overpriced eatery I could find.

It was fairly chocca but I grabbed a table by the door, shook my bumbershoot and stashed it behind my chair. There was quite a din inside so, for a moment, I wished I could self-isolate. But here was a lot of well people; well heeled, well dressed and well groomed. And there was me, looking well fed and not so well. 

I was plonked in the busiest area near the counter and entrance which was a problem; it’s where the overattentive waiters congregate, like hummingbirds, constantly buzzing around you. I felt like I was being watched and my laptop screen scrutinised over my shoulder. I nearly asked one of them to help me with my work. They were cats watching sparrows, ready to pounce, to take your order, remove your plates or adjust the positioning of your condiments. Ooh-er missus. But this level of service is what you are paying for.

Walls are white and covered in a few classy mirrors and Neil Roland photographic art (of Cheshire and Manchester scenes) which adds colour and works well. There was no music on but I suppose it’s usually busy so you’d hardly hear it anyway. Besides do I want to hear ‘Money Makes The World Go Round’ on repeat for the duration of my meal? The floor and tables are a pleasant mixture of greys and the chairs are well-made and expensive looking. There are some trendy lamps over the counter and around the joint of course. Everything is modern and classy but not too fussy. The cutlery too is modern and strangely-shaped as if designed by either Philippe Starck or a Venusian. Not so great though when my knife slipped through my fingers. This never happens in ASDA’s canteen as they only have forks and spoons in its canteens as all their customers carry knives anyway. 😉

Many of the waiters seemed to be Italians and a steady flow of wealthy acquaintances and amicos entered greeting them with kisses, back-slaps and hearty hand-shakes. For a moment I thought I was at a mafia wedding. But no guns were drawn so all was good though I hoped none of them had just flown back from a Coronavirus hotspot.

I couldn’t smell food just the aroma of success and spondoolics. The punters looked the part and nicely attired brandishing watches that cost the same as the GDP of a small country. Across from me were groups of affluent middle-aged women in posh puffer jackets with circular logos on the sleeves, an overweight sweaty woman (resembling the singer Meatloaf) and bored teenagers asking their parents what an avocado is. Who cares about these people anyway? Do they have their own Wikipedia pages? For on my way back from the latrines I noticed the Manchester United captain Harry McGuire sat by the wall. If this place is good enough for the most expensive defender in the world then it’s good enough for me.

I was pleased that there was no horse’s head on the menu and I ordered what turned out to be a decent coffee and tasty jacket potato. At eight squidingtons the spud was a bit steep (and they were a bit stingy on the beans) but you can still pay £7.50 in a far less salubrious cafe in more grim location so sod it. If Harry though, on about 200K a week, had ordered the same as me, I think he would have stretched to a side-salad. As a Liverpool fan, I do hope he doesn’t trip on his way out and get injured. Now where shall I lay that umbrella?

Verdict: 4.5/5

Good: Everything really. You might be sat next to Kevin Keegan.

Bad: Not the cheapest or relaxing sometimes. What if Roy Keane sat next to you?