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ALL the signs were there.

I should have known this new Southend restaurant was never going to the best place for a quiet evening with my date, who was nursing a hangover.

The first was the large blue one above the door, reading “Corfu”.

Alarm bells started ringing for my date for the evening, who having worked several summer seasons in Greek resorts in her younger days was well aware of the island’s modern hedonistic reputation.

“It will be fine,” I said, pointing out that there was a Greek music event on that night. I had forgotten she had asked for a quiet, intimate dinner because she was feeling the effects of a heavy night.

Being the first through the door of the former Polish restaurant that night, our waitress eagerly ushered us to a table.

She thoughtfully warned us there would be live music and singing, so I asked her to give us a moment as I attempted to persuade my date not to bolt.

We were advised to take advantage of a special £25-perhead meze deal and as I’m a sucker for a special and generally appreciate the advice of waiting staff, we said yes.

The prawns were served in a simple Marie Rose sauce, the button garlic mushrooms looked like they had been waiting in the pan for a while and the sausage and cured meats had a slightly rubbery appearance.

One reassurance was the portion size. The small meze dishes stretched across our four-person table like an Aegean archipelago, and there was certainly enough for double our number.

The three dips for our warm pitta bread – hummus, tzatziki and taramasalata–were better and the mixed grill, the most important dish, was excellent.

The lamb was very tender and the chicken juicy. Both had a smokey taste that suggested they had been cooked over coals, and again the portion was generous.

Also, the halloumi, which came with the cured meat, and the plump olives brought out as appetisers had a satisfying saltiness.

As we tucked in, a female singer began belting out what I guess were Greek standards, accompanied by a gentleman on a keyboard. For my date the entertainment was as welcome as Angela Merkel is in the Greek parliament, but I love traditional live music as I dine.

The many families who had joined us in the small one room restaurant were enjoying the entertainment, creating a lively atmosphere.

After the meal we headed for the door, only tobe accosted by the singer, who told us (on the microphone in front of the entire restaurant) we couldn’t leave without dancing.

I was happy to do a quick twirl, but my date flat out refused and an awkward stand-off ensued until I dragged her out the door.