Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Lounge

Tues 22 Jan 2008

One thing I hear most about The Lounge is that it used to be good. About 6 years ago I had some good meals there, but the restaurant changed/closed/reopened and the bar became more expensive, the quality of the beer less good ... all very sad, as I had spent some good times there.

After a break of about a year and a half, I finally ventured back, in search of a pre-theatre meal. I'm not sure if there's been a change of management or ownership but things have changed and, on last night's visit, for the better.

I arrived straight from work and ordered a caffè latte. I could find a seat and it would be brought over. Marks for civilised to start off with! When my coffee arrived there was no problem starting a tab and I was left alone to read my book and inspect the menu.

I'd been hoping to order the warm salad of black pudding with apple and roasted onion that I'd spotted on the website, but it wasn't on the menu. As I was after something light I settled on a smoked salmon, cream cheese and rocket wrap. Andy's internet choice, toad in the hole, was available so when he arrived we were able to settle down to our drinks: a San Miguel for him and a small glass of competent (but possibly over priced) Chilean sauvignon blanc. What impressed me most was that the wine wasn't served freezing cold: I could actually smell and taste some gooseberries!

My wrap was served with a small side salad and a tiny (but in my opinion, perfectly sized) portion of chunky chips. I was after a quick, light supper and this did the job admirably. Andy's toad in the hole was huge: a pile of mash, two sausages, plenty of gravy and a massive Yorkshire pudding. Perhaps not what you might conventionally think of as 'toad in the hole' but all the elements where there. I thought the gravy was a little salty and (dare I say it?) chemical-like, and Andy complained that the mash was lumpy (ah! but at least it was real potatoes then!), but he liked the sausages and the Yorkshire pudding went down a treat with both of us. If the Yorkshire pudding is bought in (and after discussion, we decided it's probably not) the Lounge is certainly making the effort and buying something good.

With the theatre beckoning there was no time for loitering and our final bill came to just shy of £25 (2 beers - £3.2o a pint, 1 small wine, 1 coffee and the 2 meals). If dining early, some meals are available for just £5 (and, yes, the toad in the hole was one) and there is also a 25% discount pre-theatre offer, if dining between 5 and 6:30.

While I still think the drinks might be a little pricey we'll certainly be making more use of the Lounge in future. In winter, it's a cosy venue and in summer you can do far worse than sit in the garden and drink Pimms!

1. The Lounge, St John’s House, Merrion Street, LS2 8JE, phone: 0113 244 4234

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