BY the time these words are published they may well be haunting me.

I reckon the idea of a second national lockdown, circuit-breaker, call it what you will, is completely nuts.

I know you are probably saying that this is not the place for what might be deemed a political statement, and that you check out these bits of the paper/website to escape the unremitting awfulness of the stuff you are reading elsewhere.

But it’s just what I feel having eaten out in a restaurant in Thirsk last week where, according to the latest data on Covid-19 cases there had been no new positive cases reported in the Thirsk North Middle Super Output Area (don’t ask me what that means) in the previous seven days.

Everybody was masked up when they should have been, everybody hand sanitised when they should have, the tables were adequately spaced and track and trace details were properly taken and logged.

The restaurant was busy too. Life almost felt like normal. Is it right that we should shut all this down again for an indeterminate time? I’m not sure it is but feel free to call me naïve, an irresponsible fool, Covid-science denier or whatever.

We were in Bianco Ristorante in Thirsk on a Wednesday evening when all this talk about the hospitality industry being on its knees seemed like news from another galaxy.

There was barely an empty table when we arrived at seven and by eight it was completely full.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

And that is not unusual by all accounts. We had tried to book a table on a weekend on two occasions before the Spring lockdown without success.

My Thirsk sources tell me it has been like that ever since it opened at the tail-end of 2019 and the takeaway business it launched during lockdown has been just as popular. So it’s working well which is good to know in these uniquely challenging times.

There’s nothing remarkable about the offer. It’s Italian-style (most Italians wouldn’t recognise half of what’s on the menu as authentic Italian fare) and keenly priced. Think of the formula popularised by Uno Momento – huge choice of pizza/pasta/chicken dishes – refine it a little, execute with a degree of aplomb and that’s Bianco.

Talking of Uno Momento, another of that chain’s branches has opened less than 100 yards away from Bianco. Walking past after we left Bianco, the empty tables and “20 per cent off all food Monday-Thursday” offer was a good indication of which establishment is winning this particular Battle of the Calzone.

Bianco is by no means perfect but it produced two excellent main course dishes – a really well cooked piece of hake loin (£11.95) on a bed of roasted Mediterranean vegetables and a grilled chicken breast (£11.95)in a sweet chilli sauce with onions, mixed peppers and lots of garlic. The kitchen can clearly cook.

Where the keen pricing really manifests itself is in dishes where the quality of the ingredients are the essential determinant of success or otherwise.

A smoked salmon cornets starter (£5.95) was pretty miserable, thanks to some very ordinary, icy-cold, salmon and prawns which were limp, watery and utterly tasteless.

A ‘homemade’ tiramisu dessert (£4.95) was distinctly ordinary too. Not particularly light. Not enough coffee flavour. Too sweet.

We were a bit disappointed too with the way this former Nat West Bank branch had been converted. Although it looks as if the premises were never one of those grand banking halls, the space is singularly lacking in any wow factor.

It looks like an old suspended ceiling has been ripped away to reveal cast concrete. Combined with lots of pendant filament bulb lights and weird battleship grey and deep turquoise walls the effect of this weird décor was a bit odd.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

I think it was intended to be hipster urban chic but it doesn’t quite work. Maybe it could be fixed by sorting the overly stark lighting.

A residual vestige of the building’s heritage is found at the entrance to the ladies’ loo which is through the heavy steel door of the bank’s old vault. I’m sure there’s a terribly non-PC joke somewhere there but I’ll move swiftly on. I’m probably in enough trouble with the first two paragraphs of this piece.

Service was broadly good. The waiting team have a slightly snappy approach – “Pay Attention! Here’s a menu!” – but they were pretty busy so there wasn’t much time for pleasantries.

We paid less than £50 for our meal which included two glasses of wine, one of them large.

Five days after our trip to Bianco, our NHS Covid 19 Test-and-Trace has not "pinged" either of us. That’s good to know. Fingers crossed.

Bianco Ristorante

17 Market Place Thirsk YO7 1HF

Tel: 01904 405412 Web:

Open: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 11am-9pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 7 Service 8 Surroundings 6 Value 9