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      04.12.2012 12:41
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      Good family nosh up place

      The Lakes Bedford Road Northampton 0871 527 8822 Pub Type - Family pub restaurant Size - Big Parking - Good Menu- Standard English pub fayre Cost - Cheapish (deals available) Service - ok ========= The Lakeside eatery has to be in one of the worlds most unglamorous locations to build a bespoke family pub and eatery, edging one of Britain's biggest industrial estates and the plates regularly rattling as the 38 tonner's rumble by to pick up and drop their loads from all around Europe, to and from the concrete and aluminum warehouse and distribution centre behemoths. With a weed sodden river to the left, a mostly unused modern office park to the right and the growl of a dual carriageway downwind you certainly don't feel like you are having a romantic meal in Venice by the canal here, a drink on the terrace to count the shopping trolleys and old bikes poking out of the green and brown water hardly watching the Gondolas go by. Why is that most British rivers are set up so boats can't actually use them and if they do they will soon tossed over an angry looking weir? The Lakeside (a Fayre and Square pub chain restaurant) is a new build on the outskirts of Northampton, lots of windows, turrets and triangles. Its functional and blue collar inside, the customers greeted by a twinkle of faux brass as far as the eye can see, a raging simulated log fire in one corner the only intimacy on offer. The seating space is huge, Vegas style booths and open tables to take your pick, fruit machines flashing away in the corner to tag the lonely lorry driver enjoying a sly pint. I doubt if this place has even been half full in its life. The ordering system is as equally casual; punters required to order at the huge bar and await a waitress, who were pleasant but potential gum chewers around the back, a number on the table (in brass, of course) your only connection to the world. But we are here as its cheap, mum dragging the family together for a meal and a team talk, which quickly regresses into pi**taking and that horrible torture ritual of taking photos of each other on cheap cameras from horrible angles. It's a great leveler for the egos at the table. I have been told I look Dougie Banatyne and Mark Wahlberg in my time but more like Barry from Auf Weidersehein Pet in the family snaps. This is why celebrities cover their face from the 'paps' after a night out. The menu is Basic English type fare you get in most of these eatery pubs with the all day mixed grill at £10.99 the heartiest meal on offer, a big old oval plate full with plenty of meat and variation and would fill the greediest Lithuanian lorry driver arriving from Gdansk. I had Chicken Newyorker for £5.99 and have to say I was underwhelmed, the peas as big as Central park on the plate and the chips over baked, the chicken breast with cheese and bacon melted on not that big. They also do curries and pastas, fish and steak dinners, with the average price being around £6-8 for the main course. The starters and sides are pretty decent portions so you can share those with your partner or next door neighbor and the sweets spilling off the plate, the ice cream particular good value. They do buy one get one free deals with 2 main courses for £10 deals particularly good, ideal for families on a budget or less important occasions. The Sunday roast 2 for £10 option is also there as are diet meals in the 600 or less calorie range. There are some decent meals there and again two for ten. Its not quite chips with everything but most of the people who go there would order chips with everything. It's the sort of place you go where you don't want to be intimidated or feel out of place and just jaw jaw and catch up with the family and friends. A bottle of red was £14 so best smuggle one inside your nans handbag or your meal will quickly top £100. As the food is not that thrilling and filling a drink or two will help to fill the evening out. It's the sort of grub you can buy in Sainsbury's in those ready meals. Again, I would recommend the mixed grill here as it's about volume and value for money here over taste and presentation. The Christmas menus are out and I doubt if you would need to book here as the place is so big. If you do book with work and friends there is a voucher for a free two course meal on your next visit, the singletons at work getting lucky (and pointed out) with that one. There is free Wi-Fi and so the residents of the nearby Holiday Inn had wondered in with their laptops. They also do glutton free and kid's meals and the like. It turned out as a quiet Thursday evening in a perfunctory English family pub eatery routine with non pretentious food and service. It was all very fine taste wise and a suitable cheap eat night out and an ideal family venue with good parking. They also have a Whacky Warehouse annex where the kids can play with those plastic balls or whack things in the daytime while mum and dad eat. I can recommend the place if you accept it is what is and with a group of mates and family and friends nearer Christmas fun and frolics will be had although no dance floor for gran to practice her new 'Strictly Come Dancing' moves. http://www.fayre-square.com/pub/lakeside-northampton/m6853/

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