IT WAS a sunny evening. One when you start to feel we've finally turned a corner and are heading firmly out of the bleak midwinter.

Toots was restless and I was savouring having cracked a case that had lingered on almost as long as the cold weather.

One of our favourite diners has been closed for a while for some refurbishment. It opened again and beckoned us back.

“Sweetheart! Some finery is called for. We’re heading for Duke Street.”

Coia’s Café has been serving the fine people of Glasgow since 1928.

Now headed up by the legendary Alfredo, the place has had a bit of a makeover since we were last here.

“Mainly background, Tec,” says mine host. “You’ll still feel at home out front.”

And indeed we did.

Familiar booth. Familiar menu. Familiar staff. Who could ask for anything more?

“I’m a bit of a homing pigeon, Toots. I like to come back to my favourite coop every so often and settle down for a while.”

That translates as clearly deciding to have a classic Coia’s starter: prawn cocktail. This is no ordinary prawn cocktail. This is tiger prawn brought to life with Hungarian paprika.

“Oh, that just cheers you up, Tec, it really does!”

And for madam? “I’ll go for king prawns and sambucca.”

Both dishes arrived. For the Moll, her king prawns were indeed dressed with orange and sambucca resting on a garlic crostini and nestled beside a rocket salad. “Tasty, Tec, it really is.”

I meanwhile relaxed and very much enjoyed my own starter served on mixed leaves and with that hint of paprika.

Duke Street was busy. Coia’s was busy. But we were in our little haven and ready for more food heaven.

“What are you thinking, Tec?” said the tall, droll, Moll.

“Just musing about stuff people say."

“Oh, here we go again,” she said, interrupting my line of thought and perhaps in a good way.

My dearest had opted for a spaghetti main with a heavy hand on garlic, chilli, olives, tomatoes, onion and anchovies.

“Don’t forget the capers, Tec. I like a caper.”

The waiter sighed slightly at that as he delivered my perfect stroganoff. This is pure Coia’s. Chicken strips in a brandy and mushroom cream sauce served with rice and fries.

“That looks delicious Tec,” said Toots as she pinched a chip.

“You don’t mind do you?” she said, fluttering her bri-nylon lashes in my direction.

“How could I mind my sweet? Why, you not only have a perfect figure, you have the smile of a Sunday school picnic. Enjoy.”

We love it here. There’s a straightforward charm in a place that promises to look after its customers.

Coia’s prides itself in four basics: friendly attitude, politeness, cleanliness and high quality food.

Top marks in all.

To help us through our relaxing meal, we enjoyed a glass or two of a gentle, dry Australian.

This chardonnay had a hint of peach and nectarine to it. “And it’s a bit flowery,” the Moll said enthusiastically.

This wine is just perfect timing for the Games on the Gold Coast.

“Here’s to Team Scotland in Australia,” I suggested. “I can't believe it’s been four years since we had the Games here. They were excellent.”

Indeed they were, but my mind had shifted to another sport. The Grand National. I did well last year with One for Arthur, but now?

“Who do you fancy, Tec?” Toots said with an angelic smile.

“Apart from you, my dear?

“Too early to say. I prefer to check them out on Saturday morning. But if you pressed me, I’d probably hint at Seabass.

“Time to toddle, Toots. The bright lights of Bellgrove are beckoning.”