Time to own up – its ages since I ate lunch out in the city, mainly because I always have the kids with me, and only crazy people choose to eat lunch out with 3 kids, right? Well, I heard that the Walkabout had a new lunchtime menu, and when the guys invited me down to sample it and write a review, I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss. I bribed the kids with the promise of a dessert if they behaved, and we headed down one rainy July lunchtime, tummies rumbling.
It must be nearly 10 years since I last visited the Walkabout, but I have fond memories of the place from my student days way back when – cheap and cheerful beers and burgers, big screen TVs and lots of memorable sporting moments witnessed. I remember the balcony bouncing when David Beckham scored in the last minute to send England to the 2002 World Cup, and the bar always being full of rugby lads. So, I most definitely wasn’t expecting the stylish, slick and modern interior that the bar now boasts, following a £1,000,000 makeover!
Upon arrival we were welcomed and shown to our booth by Adam, and talked through the menu by friendly and knowledgeable bar staff who were happy to supply the kids with felt tip pens and colouring menus to keep them entertained. The high ceiling in The Walkabout has always made the bar feel spacious, but the layout now works to enhance the space even more. Cosy booths and café style tables are dotted around for diners, with plenty of space for groups wanting to meet up for drinks too. Stylish lighting, graffiti, a ping pong table and exposed pipes add to the cool décor. Nothing like my student days at all!
Now, the food! The ‘Aussie lunch’ menu features 8 different dishes, 3 of which are vegetarian, with 5 different drinks options, for only £6. Its brilliant value for lunchtime, and runs Monday to Friday between 12noon and 5pm. The main menu is overflowing with Aussie fare;
- snacks (erm, hello Tin Can Mac & Cheese!),
- sharing platters (perfect for accompanying after work drinks),
- parmis (breaded chicken escalopes served with various toppings),
- ‘Straight from the Barbie’ choices,
- burgers a plenty,
- seriously decadent sounding desserts, and
- a cracking drinks menu.
I opted for the Halloumi salad, and a glass of ice cold white wine, and the boys chose fish and chips from the kids menu. We were tempted by so many things on the snacks menu, and finally decided on the onion petals to share, although we could easily have just eaten a massive table full of snacks, next time maybe? The onion petals were lightly battered, crispy and sprinkled with cheese then drizzled with BBQ sauce and served with thousand island dressing – so good!
My Halloumi salad was a gigantic plateful of dressed mixed leaves, tomato, peppers, avocado, cucumber, spring onion, sweetcorn, sundried tomatoes and pumpkin seeds (phew!), then topped with thick slices of squeaky, griddled halloumi. Just delicious! The boys’ fish fillets were chunky and beautifully white, coated in crispy batter, and served with chips and their favourite tartare sauce. Clean plates all round. The boys would have liked more chips though, bottomless pits that they are.
We were running short on time as baby nap time was imminent, but managed to get the kids’ desserts to go – generous slabs of chocolate brownie, ice cream, chocolate sauce, Smarties and a flake. Obviously eaten way too quickly when we got home for me to snap a picture!
All in all, a great lunch spot, whether you are taking a break from the office, refuelling after a busy morning’s shopping, or just wanting to fill hungry tummies, big or small. The refurb looks like money well spent, as the bars seeks to attract a wider clientele. There are still the student favourites, burger and drink offers, chicken wings by the kilo, and all day breakfasts on Sundays, but the new menu options will appeal to families and city centre workers and shoppers too.
For my next visit, I’ll be leaving the kids at home, and tackling the drinks and snacks menu with gusto, as a throwback to my student days and those hazy memories of the bouncing balcony and World Cup celebrations!
What we loved (the bonza stuff!): varied menu including numerous veggie options, stylish décor, helpful and attentive staff, great value lunchtime meal and drinks offers
What could be improved: a highchair would have been useful for the baby, more chips with the kids meals please!
I received no payment for this article, although The Walkabout kindly provided our meals for free. All views and opinions expressed are my own.