North Block (1-63)
5 Chicheley Street
Tel: 0845 129 7637
All words and pictures by Neil Hennessy-Vass
I have only ever been to the strangely named Slug and Lettuce for drinks so didn’t know what to expect of their food. The branch on the Southbank is large and laid out in a way that makes it hard to see the whole place when you arrive. This is a good thing as it makes for nooks and crannies to hide away in. It’s very family friendly there is an all day kids menu that offers two courses and a drink for £4.95. The menu or menus to be more accurate are packed with everything from breakfast (they open at 8am) to a comprehensive selection of burgers and not a gastropod in sight.
This is a pretty good place to visit any time of the day really. You could easily work from here for an hour or two using the free Wi-Fi or meet friends for a light snack or a full meal. There are many deals to look out for. One of the best is the Wednesday Wine-Down where all non-sparkling bottles of wine are £10.95. This could be saving you nearly £10 a bottle. Not to be sniffed at.
But we weren’t here to take advantage of that particular offer we were here to try to correct the usual ‘excesses of Christmas’ with another part of the menu, the under 500 calories page. This was a pleasant surprise as they have some good dishes here. A chicken and pepper skewer with a house salad at £7.25 doesn’t sound like abstinence nor did spicy pork pad Thai or beef stroganoff. M chose an 8oz rump steak, which came with a salad and tasted very good, at £12.45 this must be one of the cheapest 8oz steaks in London.
I looked at the under 500-calorie menu and another the Saintly Selection (this one changes monthly) and decided that after all I hadn’t been too indulgent over the festive season (who am I kidding)! And rather meekly ordered something called The Big Ol’ Burger. I was asked if I was very hungry, I was. This was just as well.
The mains section of menu really has something for everyone with good old pub standards like beef pie, roast chicken, hand-battered cod, sausages and a great choice in curries. With the half price Happy Monday deals on offer this makes it very good value.
Now, back to the food we ordered. Toasted garlic ciabatta bread strips were a bit on the large side and a dish of wonderful olives came with good oil and vinegar. M’s steak was pretty good, cooked rare as she had asked for and the salad was in a small dish (well it is a 500 calorie meal). Obviously M felt like trying a few other sides as well, the buttery mash was very good, it still had body but tasted rich and creamy. With my burger came some fries in a cup but the real story is the burger. It was ‘loaded’ with (take a deep breath) 7oz beef burger, grilled chicken fillet, pulled pork, smoked cheese, battered macaroni cheese, lettuce, tomato, slaw and pickles topped with a sticky Tabasco sauce. Phew, that was quite a mouthful. It might sound over the top and ridiculous but I thought it was superb. Sure, it was in no way healthy (M looked quite smug as I ate it) but it was fantastic. The flavours and textures all had a role. It was filling (I didn’t need the chips really) but I’d have it again, the spicy Tabasco sauce being the proverbial icing on the cake for me. Spicy, rich and meaty it was the ‘mans’ choice.
After a significant lull Jason our waiter was quite surprised I’d polished off the burger. He said, “I’ve never seen anybody eat ALL of it before”. There’s a challenge for you, see if you can eat a starter, that burger and a pudding? We decided to have a little selection of desserts. M absolutely adored her cookie cup explosion, a kind of giant cookie with chocolate brownie in the middle and a sprinkling of marshmallow pieces served with vanilla ice cream. My favourite was white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake with profiterole topping. As you are probably gathering by now The Slug and Lettuce offer all thing to all men (and women) with a considerable degree of success. This is good pub food served in a pleasant environment, more importantly the all day dining and the type of dishes they serve are what people want to eat when they are out with their family or friends.
The menus as I said are full of offers and deals. It’s worth planning your visit around what’s on offer as it could make a significant difference to your bill. This branch being sited on The Southbank could easily become part of a family day out at the London Aquarium or a trip on the London Eye, which are just round the corner. You don’t have to tell your kids that is has ‘slug’ in its name just tell them that it’s the ‘something’ and lettuce, at worst they’ll think it’s a salad bar but be delighted when they realize it isn’t.
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