Monday 27 February 2017

Review: Saltdean Tavern Stonehouse Restaurant, Brighton

On Saturday night my husband and I headed over to Saltdean, Brighton to try out the newly refurbished Saltdean Tavern. The restaurant has recently been re-branded as a Stonehouse restaurant specialising in pizzas and carvery roasts. My first thought was that this was an odd combination but actually upon being in the restaurants and seeing the breadth of the menu and all the big family and friends tables I could understand that there is logic in having opposites as the attraction it it means everyone in your party can be satisfied and enjoy their meal out.

First Impressions
The restaurant is situated behind the old Saltdean Lido, which is currently being renovated (over a very long term and with a few tricky issues) so the location is super easy to get to and there is tons of well-lit parking. The outside looks really smart and there is lovely wooden play equipment for the kids, I know mine would love it and we'll come back in the warmer months to enjoy the local area and a meal there.

As you enter the building you have a bar area to the left and restaurant to the right and the refurbishment is lovely. The decor looks really smart and very welcoming. You can see the chefs working in the pizza preparation area as you arrive and that looks very inviting. There is also a salad bar, carvery and ice cream factory on show too.

We arrived about 8.15pm, a quarter of an hour after our reservation but this wasn't an issue to the restaurant, which made us feel at ease. When we arrived there was not a clearly defined welcome area so we just stood in the entrance and waited and a waitress took the initiative to approach us. We told her we had a reservation and she checked this out and took us to a marked table. There was plenty of space in the restaurant area and between the tables so you could feel relaxed but the floor was full of crumbs and the menus were sticky from split soft drinks and beers. So our first impression was a bit mixed to be honest.

The Food
I have to say the highlight of our evening was the food and so it should be. The prices are super reasonable and we managed to have a three course meal for two of us with soft drinks and wine for around £37 and we were very pleased with this. We were both stuffed full and I even managed to take half my pizza home with me.

I ordered potato skins with gammon and cheese, which comes with a side of sour cream and American style relish dip and at £3.29 they were superb value. I was surprised to see it was the American style squeeze cheese included as the menu had not specified this but I found I enjoyed it anyway. My husband wanted some nachos but he wondered what size the portion would be so he ordered the sharer portion thinking I could have some and it wouldn't be that big. Again he was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the portion size, the decent amount of sour cream, salsa and guacamole he got and also he had loads of pulled pork on top, all for just £4.79.

For main course I went for pizza as to be honest I felt the carvery meat and veg didn't look the freshest. Also with most other main courses you could help yourself to chips and salad and again I didn't fancy chips from a hot plate (I like them cooked to order) and the salad wasn't my kind of items - there was thing like pasta salad, coleslaw, cous cous and I realise most people would enjoy this but I prefer just the veg kind do items like sweet corn, beetroot and carrot. I must mention at this point that I am pretty fussy and I have set ideas for how I like things to be and luckily the pizza didn't disappoint, it had an exquisite thin crust and I choose the BBQ chicken at £6.99.

My husband went for a burger and you can choose from beef, chicken or Butternut and chickpea, a single is £5.99 or you can double up for an extra £1.50. There are then loads of options for toppers for the burgers at about £1.49 each and my husband had a single beef burger with spicy topper, which was pepperoni, jalapeƱos and mozzarella, he said it was very enjoyable. The burger came out on a tray and he was able to add as much salad, veg and chips as he liked and go back for me and more if he fancied. He said the chips were fine off the hot plate, not dried out and still tasty, which was good to hear.

We were both absolutely stuffed after our starters and main course and normally we would probably have stopped there but in the interests of a full review we wanted to try out some puddings. My husband had treacle sponge with custard (£3.29) which was OK but nothing special and I had a banoffee quesadilla and wow, it was so yummy. I'd definitely have it again, especially at £3.49. It was a super large portion and two people could easily have shared it.

We both had diet cokes, which were available in small, medium and large and I also had a glass of wine, which was very nice and all drinks prices that I saw seemed reasonable and the drinks were served well in clean, appropriate glasses.

In summary the food that came out for the kitchen was really good and certainly amazing value for money. The food that was on display is probably best eaten at the beginning of service or during a busy time when they are regularly replenishing. We arrived about 8.15pm and we were the last people to eat in the restaurant so understandably the vegetables and salad were not re-stocked. This appears to be a day-time and early evening venue.

I think the thing to remember here is that you are not necessarily going to come t this restaurant for a five star special night out for two. It is what it, and I'd sum that up as a great place t go with family or a large group where we all want something a little different to eat for great value price sand. A nice informal atmosphere. It's the kind of place I'd go for a Mums night out, or a casual meal with my parents.

The order is taken at the table and the two girls that served us where both nice enough but the service was basic. We tried to order ribs and was told we've got no ribs and there wasn't a sorry or an offer of an alternate like there might be in a more expensive restaurant. Both girls were chatty, one more so than the other and perhaps she went into details I didn't need but she meant well and we received the food we ordered and when I asked to order extra drinks they came quickly, so I have no real problem with service. It was just basic but fairly efficient.

Part of the Community
One of the aspects both my husband and I noticed about the Saltdean Tavern was that it had a community focus. There appeared to be local people meeting up and you could hear neighbours and friends saying hi as they bumped into each other. There was a notice board on the wall for community activities and also a charity voting scheme in place, so they could support local charities, which is a nice touch.

In Conclusion
We had a very nice meal at the Saltdean Tavern and we went home full and happy. The biggest draw for me is the great prices and variety of menu items available. I don't see it as a 'date night' venue but more somewhere to enjoy cosy family meals. It is somewhere I can see my husband and I taking the kids to for a great lunch or early diner if we are over Brighton way (its about an hour away from us).

Disclosure: We received our meal free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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