Here come the chains! (Part 3)

Centro Lounge in Loughborough rubs shoulders with its better known peers such as Nando’s and Pizza Express in the new cinema complex in Loughborough. Gradually the chains are opening their doors – Nando’s opened today but there are still three units getting fitted out.

I went with Siggy today for a brunch time meal on a bank Holiday monday. The first thing that made an impression was the less pretentious trappings of the interior and the good menu which centred around traditional favourites and a tapas selection. The fact that the puddings weren’t billed as ‘desserts’ and that the prices were much more reasonable than the neighbouring restaurants stands the lounge in good stead. They’ve gone a bit overboard on the amount of pictures hanging on the walls but it adds some interesting colour to what is essentially a wide open space with a long bar on one side.

Talking of the bar the drink prices were also relatively reasonable and they had a decent cocktail and wine list as well as beer on tap. Milkshakes were very cheap but I guess they don’t involve Italian gelato.

The staff were very friendly and helpful, although I do think there might have been some teething problems with the kitchen since our meals took quite a long time to come. The place is very child friendly – offering colouring in kits (same as Pizza Express) and vegetable crudités while families are waiting. Also there is free chilled water in jugs on the bar.

We weren’t even sure if the place was part of a chain until I looked at their web page. They’ve got places all over the UK and more on the way. Perhaps the naming convention they follow (always something Lounge), the food and the quite random interior décor makes them stand out less than the other chains?

I had a lounge breakfast which consisted of a fried egg on a thin slice of toast, two undercooked hash browns (soggy not crispy), some tasty bacon, a sausage meat patty (the star of the show which admittedly repeated on me like a McDonald’s sausage patty later on in the day), some baked beans in a little tin cup (good idea to stop the sauce getting all over the plate), mushrooms and a dodgy cooked tomato. The ketchup came in a tomato shaped squeezy bottle and was more like trucker’s café ‘red sauce’ than proper ketchup. It was all nicely presented on the plate but pretty basic – on a par with the likes of Wetherspoons food for instance.

Siggy had a mac ‘n’ cheese dish which as well as the pasta, cheese and sauce, also contained broccoli and sweet potato. It was served with a garlic ciabata and I was told all tasted good. If there had been tiramisu on the pudding menu then I would’ve have a pudding but there wasn’t, so I didn’t.

Given that it was an early sitting the place was surprisingly busy (it was a bank holiday though) and even when half full was getting pretty noisy. Most people were eating variations on the breakfast and all the food looked okay.

This place had the best pricing of the chains in this little nexus of eateries so far and the staff and facilities were on a par with the neighbours. I wasn’t bowled over by the food but will probably revisit at some point as I preferred it to Pizza Express and Bella Italia simply based on the pricing and less pretentious atmos. To be honest I’m waiting for the Brazilian barbecue place to open, but that seems to be the least advanced in getting fitted out.

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