IT is the nature of the food and hospitality sector that businesses come and go, the culinary streetscape of our towns often changing rapidly.

Ulverston is no exception to this rule and while the town is lucky to have a number of very long-established and thriving food spots, it's always interesting to see how the more recently established ones are faring.

By and large I like to leave new restaurants to settle in for a few months before paying a visit for review purposes. So I waited a while to visit the new kid on the block in Ulverston.

Towards the top of Market Place is The Square, a restaurant largely devoted to the pleasures of turf and surf: steak and seafood are its speciality. Set up by the owners of the popular Betulla's Italian restaurant just round the corner in Queen Street, The Square is part bar, part restaurant, with drinks served on the ground floor and food upstairs.

I called in with a friend for an early Saturday evening meal, securing the last available table at 5pm.

In the rather chilly bar we chose a couple of Porn Star Martini cocktails to kick things off. I didn't like mine, finding the passion fruit element too sweet. When it comes to martinis I'm a purist all the way: gin and vermouth is all it should contain. Luckily, my friend isn't so picky - and happily drained my drink for me.

Upstairs in the restaurant we ordered a sharing platter of lobster, sirloin steak (which we ordered rare), king prawns and mussels, with salt and chilli calamari, chips, salad and crusty bread - for £55.

We were surprised not to be asked if we wanted to order wine - but we tracked down a passing waitress and ordered a bottle of Viognier to accompany our meal.

The restaurant was packed with diners and the atmosphere buzzy. Personally I found the lighting just a bit on the harsh side; I'd tone it down a touch if this was my place.

I'd also make sure that the staff were more on the ball. Friendly, very young and charming as they all were, there were some notable gaps in the service we received; and at times I felt I was being served by some passing sixth formers who were just helping out a friend for the evening.

We weren't offered water and when the food came - and given the shellfish element of it - we had to ask for a finger bowl and something to put the lobster and prawn shells into.

At numerous times during our visit the restaurant was entirely bereft of waiting staff.

The food was good - on the whole. Negatives first: the chips were almost raw and had to be sent back to the kitchen. A fresh bowl of properly cooked ones was delivered with a genuine apology. Also, our steak which we had ordered rare was nearer to blue. Fine by us, although it was cold.

The lobster was lovely and worth all the hard work involved in accessing the best bits but we could have done with either a lot more of the smallish paper napkins - or, better still some proper linen ones.

The sharing salad was a bit on the small side, given the £27.50 a head price tag on this dish; but the garlic bread was very good. Dips ("at no extra cost at all" as somewhat unnecessarily trumpeted on the menu) were yoghurt, barbecue chimichurri and chilli jam - all good.

We decided against pudding after all that - the gaps in the service having become just a bit irritating.

The Square is serving excellent food (and I'll forgive the undercooked chips) in smart surroundings. They just need to tighten up a bit on some elements of the service. But this is a very welcome addition to Ulverston's eating out scene, which is on track to be a real stayer.

Food 4 Service 3 Atmosphere 4 Value 4


  • Quality surf and turf
  • Lots of gluten free options
  • Town centre location


  • Bar felt a bit cold
  • Service could be more efficient