For his birthday last week my brother decided he wanted to go for a meal at Damon's Grill restaurant. It is unlikely you will have heard of Damon's unless you are American because although the chain boasts over 140 restaurants worldwide there only 3 in the UK - in Liverpool, Sheffield and Lincoln and there are a couple of random ones scattered about in other countries as well. Although Damon's has been around in the US since 1979 it shows no signs of expanding its 'worldwide' operation, so Scousers, Northern Monkeys and people from Panama, this ones for you? The branch I visited was the one in Lincoln, which from the outside looks very nice - I hesitate to say 'classy' because that's not the sort of word that best describes a building who's roof is fashioned to look like barbeque ribs. Nonetheless it looks quite impressive -until you get inside. Inside the restaurant the most charitable I could be would be to say that I could see what they were trying to do - with Marilyn Monroe and James Dean posters on the walls the effect was meant to be 'American Diner' but it didn't quite work. In fact it was more 'Sports and Social Club' bearing quite an alarming resemblance to the Phoenix Club from 'Phoenix Nights.' (The 2 bouncers on the door just accentuate the 'Phoenix Nights' look - I couldn't quite work out the need for bouncers - maybe the good folk of Lincoln get rowdy in American style diners?) This effect was made complete when a 'live musician' started churning out easy listening tunes on a bontempi organ!! It was like being trapped in a lift!! Luckily this didn't go on all night - just as I was losing the will to live we were treated to the much more acceptable 'Sounds of the 60's' The most irritating thing about this dining experience is the fact that you are called up to your table by someone yelling over a tanoy 'Tab le of 5 for Perkins' (or whatever your name may be.) This in principle seems like quite a good idea but because it's such a busy restaurant (you do need to pre-book - we went on a weeknight at 7pm and it was packed and it remained packed all night) it becomes really annoying very quickly as the tanoy is in use ever 10 minutes or so. But of course the décor and set up is really incidental - the important bit of any restaurant visit is the food and this is where Damon's comes into its own (providing you aren't a vegetarian or on a diet!) After you place your order complimentary warm bread rolls and butter are brought to your table and quite perplexingly you are offered coleslaw or apple sauce to accompany your meal (I say perplexingly because I ordered fish and unless I'm very much mistaken fish and apple sauce are not traditionally served together.) The menu is quite extensive on the 'American diner' theme - ribs, grills, burgers, fajitas and seafood. I did spot a sneaky veggie burger nestled in there but that was the only vegetarian option. The food was excellent - large portions (except for the soup which turned up in something not much bigger than an egg cup!) nicely presented and good value for money. My sister and I tried as many of the fantastic creations from the cocktail menu as we could without being sick - and being the lightweight that I am, my favourite was actually non-alcoholic but it was bright pink and had so many tacky trimmings I couldn't not love it! The waitress was pleasant and attentive without being false - she really didn't care if we enjoyed our meal and so she never asked which in my book is far better than waiting staff who ask you because they have to and make you feel like you have to say that the meal is wonderful even if its actually pond slime! The gimmick at Damon's is that the 'birthday person' on production of ID showing their d ate of birth gets their meal for free as well as a complimentary chocolate cake. This makes the final bill very reasonable - for 5 of us including 2 courses and including drinks and cocktails the bill came to £74. We also had the joy of thoroughly embarrassing my brother by singing 'Happy Birthday' to my morified brother (there seemed to be lots of birthdays happening because rousing refrains of 'Happy Birthday' kept puncturing the dulcet sounds of 'Bontempi Man' all night.) This made for a very upbeat 'party' atmosphere, that was nice, but not recommended if you are looking for an intimate and quiet dining experience. It gets very noisy. I really enjoyed it at Damon's but my boyfriend hated it - he thought that the food was greasy and unappetising and the place in general was horrible. But then he's a sensible and somewhat miserable vegetarian whereas I am a meat-eating lover of all things tacky and glitzy. That appears to be the easiest way of telling if you will like a meal at Damon's - it's a tack lovers dream!!
The Garden Room at Wigsley near Lincoln and Newark, Notts is just what it is called, a restuarant in the garden of someones house. It takes about 26 persons only so its a nice intimate atmosphere. There are about 6 tables and a small bar. A novelty is the curtain tie backs, a trowel. The meal is excellent, served well and plenty of it. Seconds for coffee if you wish. The menu choice is good it changes every 4 weeks. It is only open Friday and Saturdays.The only dissapointment was the choice of wine, most of the white wines were dry and I do like German sweet. The starters were huge, a choice of 5 vegetables with the main meal and a wide choice of sweet. With the coffee we got homemade petit fours. The table is yours for the night so youre not rushed to finish each course, and if youre not ready you can have a breather before the next course. The owner is the chef and his wife the waitress. It was an excellent meal for - wait for it - 18pounds 50pence per person.Well recommend it to all. The only draw back is its a little difficult to find.