MY wife and I have fond memories of the Gala Theatre. It's cinema is where we shared our first date, back in 2008.

Sarah having already seen Iron Man, which was showing in screen two, we reluctantly sat nervously together in front of Speed Racer.

Heard of it? I didn’t think so. I’d decided within 20 minutes, I would tell my future bride some months later, that if she approved of the cinematic bile on offer, there was no future for the two of us.

Thankfully, she hated it too and seven years down the line we returned, seeking a baby-friendly lunch venue on a wet Saturday lunchtime.

Intervals fitted the bill perfectly. The food was good, the cost was reasonable, the staff were helpful and, perhaps most importantly given our family circumstances, there was plenty of room between tables to both park a buggy and feed a seven-month-old without worrying about interrupting others.

One lone lady reading a book at the adjacent table did get up and leave, having thought of it; but we certainly weren’t alone in bringing the little ones along – in fact, there was a pretty near even split between groups of retired friends and young families.

It had been a long time since breakfast and dinner seemed even further away, so I was a little concerned Intervals Cafe’s offerings of soup, jacket potatoes, sandwiches, salads and panninis would not get me through the afternoon. I need not have worried.

My honey roast ham pannini, served with brie and cranberry (£4.99), was most filling and came with salad, crisps and coleslaw – more than enough to keep hunger at bay for the rest of the day.

It was nice too – the ham thick and succulent; the salad crisp and refreshing. A little more cranberry and it would have been perfect.

Before realising the size of the dish I had ordered, I hedged my bets by adding in a cheese scone, which was superb – filling, yet not stodgy; fluffy, yet not crumbly. I shouldn’t have, really, but I did, innocently so, so I enjoyed it.

Sarah was equally pleased with her choice of grilled halloumi cheese with toasted pine nuts salad (£4.99) and thanked me for recommending it having admired it from across the table as my dining guest on my own previous visit to Intervals tucked in joyfully.

Our ever-well behaved (honest) tot, who to this point had been sleeping peacefully in her pram, chose this point – the conclusion of our main meals – to wake up and demand she too be fed.

The waiting staff were helpfully more than willing to warm her homemade lunch in their microwave. It’s the small things that make the difference.

As Sarah spooned chicken mush, I tucked into a slab of Millionaire’s Shortbread (£1.20) – or at least, that’s what I thought I’d pointed to at the counter. It was only when I took my first bite I realised the dessert had an oat, not biscuit, base – and a strong banana flavour.

This new delicacy, new to me at least, was very moist – to the point of collapse and sticky fingers. But of itself, it was most enjoyable – and I was even gracious enough to let Sarah finish it, as I took over the baby-feeding brief for the yoghurt course.

With a couple of bottles of diet coke (65p each) and a coffee (£1.80), the bill still didn’t reach £20 – good value considering we had both been very well fed.

Intervals had filled somewhat during our visit – more young families occupied tables across the floor; but there was still plenty of room for privacy and to enjoy a relaxed time out.

The venue deserves to be better known and used. It should not be seen as just the bar bolted onto the Gala – it is more than that, a good cafe in its own right. Diners looking for a laid back lunch of good food and friendly service in pleasant surroundings and without breaking the bank could do much worse.

Intervals Cafe, Gala Theatre, Millennium Place, Durham, DH1 1WA

Tel: 03000-266-600 galadurham.co.uk

Lunch menu served daily 11.30am to 2.30pm

Ratings: Food quality 7 Service 7 Value 8 Surroundings 7