SOME people think this restaurant reviewing lark is easy. Well it's not and here's why.
This week I was invited to eat at Marco. The food was superb, fantastic, delightful and all the rest of it, befitting the Michelin chef Marco Pierre White - a man notoriously so hard that he once made Gordon Ramsay cry.
So what's my problem?
Put simply I was deep behind enemy lines; Marco is at the back of the Shed End of Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground, home to the bragging Chelski hordes.
Like the eponymous chef, I am a supporter of the refined footballing institution that is Arsenal, so my innards curl at the very mention of our squillionaire west London rivals.
Worse still, my dinner companion is a Chelsea 'fan' - or as much of a fan as someone who can't name three players but 'likes blue' can be.
But where the Great Marco treads, so can I. And I assumed little harm could come from a recce of the grub being dished out at The Bridge, if only to slate it and return with renewed gusto to my £6 Emirates Stadium pie - a cheese cube-sized offering that tastes of gruel and toothpaste.
Shame on me then, that I can't fault Marco, an Anglo-French joint venture between Marco and Roman Abramovich.
Sleek and showy, with leather booths, chrome, mirrors and framed paparazzi shots, the restaurant unabashedly plays to its exclusive clientele, which from my midweek visit consisted of a smattering of badly dressed Russians and a pair of unreconstructed bankers.
So far, so Chelsea. But the skill is in the food and the simple à la carte menu.
A one-page A3 card, it runs through classic fishy delights to big-time meaty affairs. From the list of starters, a not-too-heavy mussel soup (£8.50) brought a grin to my face - a nice portion and no skimping on the mussels - while my faux fan date ploughed heartily into a rich-looking confit of duck with prune (£7.50).
There are all manner of steaks, chops and roast chickens (£14-£30) from the best of cross-Channel traditions for seconds, but we both went for fish, choosing a slab of grilled tuna steak à la sicilienne - chopped black olives and herbs (£17.50) - and a soft, flaky grilled piece of halibut (£19.50) with a bed of baby tomatoes. Served with a delightfully garlicky creamed potato and buttery spinach side, they were clean, light and spilling with flavour and met nicely by a crisp sauvignon.
Marco's quality runs into the English puddings, all for £6.50, an assortment of Eton Mess (fruity meringue), a proper home-cooked caramelised apple pie with ice-cream and a thick chocolate mousse.
It's a top, unfussy menu and a refreshing surprise, given the chintzy surroundings.
Keen to avoid becoming a match day restaurant alone, Marco also offers excellent dinner deals and is currently offering a Christmas special of three courses for £25 plus a bottle of wine for tables of four.
And in case you are wondering, I will return for a replay, but only if I have it in writing that none of my money will wend its way into Ashley Cole's pay cheque. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 6-10.30pm.