THE opening of one of East Lancashire’s premier names in restaurants at a second establishment had been eagerly awaited.

Since Nino’s – renowned for its Rawtenstall eatery – took over the former Fighting Cocks pub hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on the countryside location.

And rather than a razzmatazz opening the owners decided last week on a soft launch while work on the outside alfresco area was completed.

But ‘word of mouth’ is a wonderful thing and only days after its doors opened Nino’s was full to the rafters last weekend.

And even when we visited midweek we still had over half an hour wait for a table because of its popularity.

Inside the restaurant has five-star trappings.

A large reception area and piano lounge have been furnished with no expense spared.

And the views over the Towneley estate and surrounding hills and countryside are stunning.

So, to the dining.

Our starters were delicious.

Carpaccio Di Bue (£8) was a beautifully presented raw beef fillet thinly sliced with lemon, olive oil and shavings of parmesan and Funghi Alli Aglio (£6.50) was baked mushrooms in garlic sauce served on toasted brochetta.

But then the 45-minute wait between finishing the starters and receiving the main course was disappointing, although we were offered two drinks on the house for the inconvenience.

My wife’s Linguine Al Granchio (£9.50) – a pasta dressed with marinated crab, king prawns, cherry tomatoes, garlic and coriander was a delight to eat.

But my silver hake from the specials menu at £16.50 was a let down.

I would have liked the skin on the fish to have been crispy. It wasn’t. And the swirl of mash beneath was bland, while the mixed veg looked tired and uninspiring with the garden peas wrinkled.

We put the plusses down to it being Nino’s.

The minuses down to teething troubles.

Food 7, Drink 6, Service 7, Atmosphere 9, Value 6