The Slug and Lettuce, Unit 7 Walkergate, Durham, DH1 1SQ
Tel: 0845 126 2900
Opening times: Monday – Wednesday 10am – 11pm; Thursday 10am – midnight; Friday and Saturday 10am – 1am; Sunday 10am - 11pm
IT seems hardly five minutes since The Slug and Lettuce opened in Durham, tucked down next to the Gala.
In truth, it was 2007 when the chain opened in Durham. In all that time, Eating Out has never crossed the threshold – so with the venue having recently reopened after a quick makeover, it was about time.
The new-look interior is lovely. I popped in on Thursday, breaking up a shopping trip that seemed to have every window in town adorned with Royal wedding good wishes. There was even a chap pushing his Union Jack bunting-wrapped bicycle through town. Obviously, there'd be nothing like that inside this new-look bar. In I went, found my table, marched to the bar and ordered my meal while a host of posters of William and Kate grinned back at me.
I settled on the interior balcony of the Slug and Lettuce, a good spot to people watch and to take a look at the refurbished venue. The spruce-up is very nice, stylish and makes the place feel like a venue where you would see and be seen. I imagine it could have quite a buzz on an evening, so while it says there are meals all day every day, I'd really expect you'd be looking more at eating up until early evening before it becomes more of a drinking and partying spot, a thought reinforced by the lengthy and tempting cocktail menu.
It has to be said, the volume on the music in the daytime could have been kicked down a notch or two – it was fine most of the time but the heavier bass tracks were bordering on intrusive for relaxing with your meal.
Having ordered my meal from the very pleasant serving staff, I settled on the balcony to relax and wait for my meal. And, unfortunately, wait. And wait. It was more than half an hour – edging 40 minutes – before my meal arrived, just as I was heading to the bar to ask where it was. I may have been the only one to be left hanging, certainly no one else seemed to be fretting. Personally, I didn't mind the wait, but if you're trying to squeeze lunch in before dashing back to work, you may struggle if that is the norm. Oh, and every time the waitress wandered by with a towering burger and oodles of chips, my nose kept telling me I'd chosen the wrong meal.
However, meal finally arrived, it was gorgeous. I ordered the open chicken pie, which is chicken breast in an open puff pastry pie, the chicken drizzled in a lovely creamy sauce of Applewood cheese and bacon. Garden peas and some truly smashing chips rounded out the plate. For the £8.95 cost, I really can't fault it, it was delicious.
Back to the bar to order dessert. I went for sticky toffee pudding in custard. Just the one – despite the barman's helpful chirping of a two for one offer on dessert. Even I couldn't manage that.
Dessert is where you want a little bit of a wait. First, to let your main meal settle, and second, to suggest that the pudding isn't just microwaved and sloshed with custard from a long-standing pot. And in that respect, the Slug and Lettuce ticked the boxes nicely. The pudding was melt-in-your mouth delicate and quite scrumptious.
On the positive side, the surroundings are enticing, the staff friendly, and the food very nice. The bill, too, hit the right spot, with main meal, dessert and two drinks coming in at just £17.70. It's just a shame about the delay, or there would be thumbs up all round.
Still, as I sat there relaxing post-meal, I did think about how next time I came here, I'd try one of those impressive-looking burgers. And if I'm thinking next time, then those positives are far outweighing the one negative.