One of our great pleasures in life is being able to eat out with friends and family when the opportunity arises, something that the global health pandemic put a complete stop to for a while.

But with restrictions now lifted and Wirral's hospitality industry back up and running, following the rules laid out by the Government's roadmap, the Globe paid a visit to LEAF in West Kirby and gave it a road-test for diners who are thinking about returning to eating out in the borough.

Positioned at the top of Black Horse Hill in West Kirby, the restaurant enjoys an elevated position. Not much fun for fair-weather walkers, but the reward is far-reaching views across Liverpool bay from the pleasant beer garden area.

Occupying the same building that formerly housed the Viking bar & restaurant, children and parents will be pleased to know that the popular play boat for kids has survived the change of ownership.

LEAF, West Kirby

LEAF, West Kirby

Drinkers and diners can take full advantage of sunny days at LEAF

Drinkers and diners can take full advantage of sunny days at LEAF

The ping pong table has gone and has been replaced by a relaxed outdoor dining area, which thanks to a very modern and smart gazebo, can be turned into a indoor setting with the flick of a few levers.

After a week of wet weather, we arrived on a scorching hot day at the end May and not wanting to leave the family pet at home, brought our miniature Dachshund for the ride.

The good news for lovers of man's best friend is that LEAF is very dog-friendly with an area inside the restaurant as well as on the outdoor terrace and it is the latter where we position ourselves.

Dog biscuits and water were provided, which helped keep our pooch on its best behaviour.

LEAF has dog-friendly areas both inside and outside

LEAF has dog-friendly areas both inside and outside

LEAF offers a full breakfast and brunch menu, with everything from a full English - including vegetarian and vegan options - to Dosa pancakes and eggs Benedict.

But were are here in the afternoon so it is a satisfying lunch that we are looking for.

LEAF offer a range of soups and sandwiches, salads and platters, including a Greek mezze, but for starters my eye is drawn to the 'nibbles' section of the menu.

Full of Mediterranean-inspired choices, I eventually opt for the crab rarebit, served with a tomato and spring onion salsa and Tabasco.

It may be one of the dearest items on the nibbles menu, but it is worth every penny. An absolutely divine culinary treat that could arguably pass as a light lunch on its own.

LEAFs Crab Rarebit is an absolute treat

LEAF's Crab Rarebit is an absolute treat

Other starter options include loaded hummus, pulled lamb & feta spring rolls, root vegetable pakoras and garlic, ginger & chilli king prawns.

With rays of the sun shining through into the warm courtyard, I have been transported to what that feels like a Spanish old town, not somewhere less than 10 minutes from the M53.

Still buzzing from the success of the crab rarebit, it's time to check out a main course.

Options include LEAF's vegan kebab, Goan vegetable curry and pan fried sea bass. But I'm a meat-eater at heart so I opt to try something with a twist - Jerk Marinated Rump of Lamb.

It comes served with Tabbouleh, charred tender stem broccoli, feta cheese & mango and an exotic garden tea dressing.

Jerk Marinated Rump of Lamb

Jerk Marinated Rump of Lamb

It's fair to say that this gives my pallet a good work out. The lamb is delicious and contrasted with it's supporting cast, provides a meal that is certainly not boring.

The tea dressing is certainly different and not like anything I have ever tried before. Perhaps an acquired taste for a traditional gravy-lover, but worth giving a go to see if you like it.

My better half chose the Salt & Pepper Buttermilk Chicken burger. Served on a toasted brioche bun with green peppers, chillies and Chipotle mayonnaise, she gave it the thumbs up.

A range of bespoke burgers are on the menu

A range of bespoke burgers are on the menu

Our son also went for a basic burger off the main menu after turning his nose up at the kids' options. He is a very fussy eater, like a lot of kids are, and although there are children's options, this is one area that could possibly be expanded further.

Fortunately he demolished what was put in front of him, which can be taken as a seal of approval.

By ordering a filling starter and a substantial main I have fallen into the schoolboy error of not leaving enough room for a dessert, which is a shame because the passion fruit & mango Eton mess sounds like a treat.

Nevertheless, our warm and friendly host allows us to take away some homemade cakes from the bar and these alone are good enough reason to consider a return visit.

Cake stand on the bar

Cake stand on the bar

Visitors to the previous restaurant will be greeted to a similar layout internally, with the big central bar still taking centre stage, but the interior has now been refurbished in LEAF's signature style.

The restaurants bar area is familiar

The restaurant's bar area is familiar

LEAF, West Kirby

LEAF, West Kirby

Globe verdict

Wirral diners have been stuck at home for too long. It's time to get back out there and try something new. LEAF's varied menu and welcoming atmosphere gets the thumbs up from us.

Visit on a summer's day to take full advantage of that inviting outdoor terrace.

With options for small bites and drinks with friends as well, it is a venue with modern versatility. Well worth a try.