Welcome to the first of our ‘Honest Don’ reviews. In this series we share our honest, everyday experiences as patrons of Doncaster’s cafes, bars and restaurants. First up, the Slug & Lettuce, 53-54 Hall Gate, Doncaster DN1 3BP.
Words: the Donco Don
Photography: the Donco Don
The first thing which strikes you when you enter the Slug & Lettuce on Hall Gate is what a great job the interior designers have done. The high-street chain has invested £460,000 in its Doncaster venue and it looks like £794,405… i.e. a million dollars (given today’s exchange rate).
There is a gorgeous new bar with a raised chequerboard floor which perfectly defines the space, so that even if the venue is busy – and, given that it was a Saturday afternoon in the run up to Christmas, it was very busy indeed when we visited! – the surrounding dining and relaxation areas never feel too crowded.
Layout and décor create further defined spaces for dining and drinking throughout the venue, offering different ‘feels’ and varying degrees of privacy. The décor itself is bold and punchy, while maintaining a high standard; never once venturing toward tacky. Bird cage seating areas and pre-bookable bespoke party spaces mean that you and your friends can enjoy intimate spaces whilst still bathing in the wider atmosphere of a lively venue… and today it was very lively indeed.
The food menu is very good, with plenty of healthy – and calorie controlled – options. Nationally Slug & Lettuce have a very good vegan menu, but for some reason they’re not offering the full selection in Doncaster yet. Doncaster is changing rapidly, and this gives me some concern that Slug & Lettuce are not yet fully aware of our town’s changing tastes. As things stand, if I were taking vegan friends out, I would probably be tempted to go next door to The Greenhouse Eatery (which we will feature in a future review). While we don’t yet enjoy the full big-city vegan menu, S&L do seem happy to charge big-city prices for their beers, being above average for Doncaster. This isn’t a game-changer, we’re used to paying a bit more if the venue is right, and they do have regular offers such as their ‘Wine Down Wednesdays’.
If truth be told I don’t mind paying a bit more for my tipple as long as the atmosphere is right… I just make it last a bit longer 😉 The ambience of the Slug & Lettuce is warm, inviting and lively. But this time around I was there for business rather than pleasure, so I decided to give the beers a miss and order coffee instead. Unfortunately, the aforementioned Christmas liveliness did lead to one of the only negative experiences of the afternoon. When I placed my order the attendant asked several times what I wanted, pressing keys on the till and saying: “Sorry, what was it you wanted again?” For the record, I only drink virgin espresso or Americano, the rest of that milky froth they laughingly sell as ‘coffee’ should be seen as an afront to any connoisseur of the magic bean. They gave me a cappuccino. My heart sank.
The food however was a different story. I ordered a Sautéed Pepper & Grilled Halloumi Feel Good Flatbread and it felt very good indeed. The meal was served within 15 minutes of placing the order. Unfortunately, the cutlery took a few minutes longer to arrive so we did have a little bit of a wait before we got the chance to tuck-in. This meant the food was a little bit on the cool side when we took our first bite… but the bite itself was well worth the wait. Very fresh. Very tasty. And at £7.29 it wasn’t too much more than your average Macky D meal… which is always very, very average – and that’s being generous.
Great atmosphere. Great food. Crap cappuccino (all cappuccinos are crap), but all-in-all a good place to spend time with friends and loved ones… and it’s always good to enjoy a national high-street name when you have the added bonus of knowing that Sheffield doesn’t have one yet 😉