“ Address: 21 South Street / Chesterfield / Derbyshire / S40 1QX „
My favourite place to eat in Chesterfield is the Soulville Steakhouse. Soulville only have two restaurants, the original one in Nottingham and the relatively new one in Chesterfield. Soulville Chesterfield already has an excellent reputation for food, atmosphere and fantastic customer service. All the meals are freshly prepared using British Ingredients (it would be great if they could source locally) and are top quality.
My husband and I have had plenty of meals at Soulville so I feel pretty safe in reviewing the place. My review is based on over half a dozen visits not just a one off meal.
I really like the atmosphere and décor of Soulville Chesterfield. When you first walk in the double doors you are made to feel welcome. You are greeted upon arrival by a member of staff who will check your reservation, if you have arrived early or are waiting for other members of your party they will guide you to a seating area and inform you that drinks are available at the bar.
The seating area is filled with very comfortable brown leather sofas and low wooden tables and I can quite happily spend time here waiting as there are two large windows letting in lots of light and lots of posters and ornaments to look at. In the front bay window there is an old scooter, not something that interests me but it adds to the atmosphere of the place. The music playing in the background is set to just the right level, it is easy to chat over or if you so choose you can sit and listen.
All the music played in Soulville is from the large jukebox situated next to the reception, all customers are encouraged to choose what music they want to listen to by making selections on the jukebox, it is free to select and whatever you choose will go in the queue to be played. I can't remember all the artists and tracks on the jukebox but I have picked my girl, sitting on the dock of the bay, under the board walk, unchained melody and many others. All the music is 50's and 60's soul and it is brilliant, it really suits the place.
The bar area is small and to be honest they only have a few draught options. They have Carlsberg lager, Tetley smooth bitter, Strongbow cider and a couple of others. They have the usual shorts and Diet Pepsi, regular Pepsi and Schweppes lemonade all the drinks are of a high standard and the pricing on the bar is average for Chesterfield. Priced at £2.70 for a large soft drink and £2.80 for a pint of Carlsberg.
The downstairs area of Soulville is quite large although it does feel quite dark, the lights are always on. I think this is due to the low ceiling, brick walls and dark wood floor. It is dark but in a cosy sort of way. The upstairs level is my favourite place, while this still has the brick walls there are lots of large windows and the ceiling is very high, like a barn roof. Soulville do pack a lot of tables in but there is till plenty of space between each table, no one is pushing past you to get to there table. In the winter the restaurant is quite cosy, but in the summer it can get quite warm and there are standard fans available to cool you down. The place is full of character as the place was originally a black smiths, a lot of character has been kept despite the framed pictures and posters of 50's and 60's soul singers.
Once all your party have arrived you are then shown to your table we have sat in a variety of locations and have to say my favourite place is upstairs. All the tables are nicely set and each one is named for a soul singer we have sat at Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding to name a couple. Each table has a laminated card on with details about the singer named on your table, these are usually very interesting. There is also a card with a cow on, portioned up into cuts of beef to help you make a choice about what steak you want, although this is a steakhouse there are plenty of other meal options that I will get to in a minute. Each table has a lit tea light in the centre; I think this is a nice touch. The tables have always been clean when we have eaten here as has the cutlery. The member of staff who showed you to your table will then introduce themselves and hand out menu's and take drinks orders, you are given plenty of time to choose. Soulville has table service so once you are seated there is no need to get up again.
The lunch menu has two courses for £6.95 which is really good value as my mum tells me the portions are of a good size, we have never been at lunch. The dinner time menu is available all day too with 25% off before 5pm everyday and 15% off between 5pm and 7pm Sunday to Friday. These are really good offers and we do try to book our meals between these times so as to take advantage of them.
The starters are priced from £2.95 for the soup of the day to £4.25 for the Soulville prawn cocktail. There is also a combo starter priced at £4.25 for one person and £7.95 for two people. The starters I have tried are Mushroom Pepperpot; this is a vegetarian starter and consists of whole mushrooms in a buttery, cream, brandy and green peppercorn sauce topped with parmesan and herb crust served with crusty bread. It is delicious, the sauce is smooth and creamy with a slight peppery bite, if you break a peppercorn it does get quite warm, this is a starter I have thoroughly enjoyed. The Soulville Prawn Cocktail is described as succulent prawns on a bed of crisp mixed leaf, chopped tomato, red onion and fresh coriander, smothered in a tangy lime marie-rose sauce and served with fresh crusty bread. To be honest this was not as good as it sounds, it tasted like a standard Prawn Cocktail and the prawns were very small, not sure why this is priced at the top end of the starter menu the last starter I have tried is the BBQ Spare Ribs this is described as individual pork babyback ribs served on the bone and smothered in our own recipe BBQ sauce, served with dressed mixed leafs. I have to admit this is yummy, the meat just falls off the bone and the BBQ sauce is delicious, this is a fingers starter so be prepared to get messy, but it is sooo worth it. Of the 11 starters on the menu 6 are vegetarian. If you have a starter as a main it will be charged at £5.95 which to be honest seems a little unfair.
On to the mains, I am not a great steak eater but I have been assured by many visitors to Soulville that the steaks are excellent. All the steaks are prime British beef and are priced to reflect that. It also tells you on the menu that quality is not cheap, but they think we are worth it. They do Rump, Ribeye, Sirloin, Fillet and T-Bone. The cheapest steak is the 8oz rump at £9.95 and the most expensive is the 9 oz Fillet at £19.95. All steaks are cooked to your personal preference and you can add a variety of sauces to your steak for an extra £1.70. All the steaks are served with a choice dressed mixed leaves and either home made chunky chips, creamy mash, jacket potato, white rice or a fresh salad with beer battered onion rings and a grilled tomato.
The mains I have eaten are 10oz Gammon steak topped with a fried egg (£8.95), this was nice the Gammon was not overly salty and there was very little fat, the egg was nicely cooked, I had this with home made chunky chips and I thoroughly enjoyed it and was very full after. I have also had the BBQ babyback ribs (£10.95) which were lovely, and you get a massive potion, two rows of ribs about 7 inches long smothered in the house special BBQ sauce I also had this with the home made chips and really enjoyed it. The BBQ sauce is like nothing I have ever tasted before and Soulville closely guard the ingredients that go into it. I have also had Honey & Mustard Chicken (£9.95) and while the chicken was really well cooked, it was succulent and fell to bits in my mouth; I found the Honey & Mustard sauce really to sweet for my liking. My favourite dish here is the New Orleans Chicken (£10.95) this is a chargrilled chicken breast topped with melted cheddar cheese and smoked bacon served in a pool of the BBQ sauce, I had this with the home made chips and it was fantastic, I can not fault this dish and have had it a couple of time. The last thing I have had from the main menu is the home made lasagne al forno (8.95), it is described as oven baked layers of rich meaty bolognaise, creamy cheese sauce and pasta this is served in an individual dish with a side salad and two slices of garlic bread, as you can probably guess I ordered extra home made chips to go with it, these were completely unnecessary as the dish itself was incredibly filling. The lasagne was homemade and was the best lasagne I have had when eating out, it came very close to beating my own home made lasagne. The layers of pasta, bolognaise and cheese sauce were just right, it was rich creamy and comforting.
The dinner time menu is huge I can guarantee you will find something you like, neither I, nor any of the people I have eaten with have ever sent a dish back. The lunch menu is a very streamlined version of the dinner menu, all the menu's can be downloaded in PDF form from the Soulville website.
The mains menu only has four vegetarian options so I think that is a bit of a let down and they could do with expanding that area. The most expensive items on the menu are the steaks, the mixed grill and the combos. My hubby has had the mixed grill and says that it is nothing special and does not warrant the £17.95 price tag, he prefers to pick from the combo menu where you can combine breaded scampi, 6oz rump steak, grilled lamb chop, half a chicken breast or half a rack of ribs to make your ideal meal, this can cost up to £18.95 for all 5 items.
I have only ever managed a pudding once and I had the key lime pie (£3.50) as I had never had tried it before and it was nice, whenever I have a pudding out I can't help but think that I make better puddings myself.
There is a range of coffees, teas and liqueur coffees that can be enjoyed after your meal, to be honest I have never had these and have not seen them served very often, I do know that all the coffees are freshly made as they have one of those big shiny coffee making things behind the bar.
The portion sizes at Soulville Steakhouse Chesterfield are of a good size, I have always been filled by my meal and quite often only have a main, everyone else I have been eating with has always been more than satisfied with there food and are always full. On average the cost of a meal comes in at around £20 a head including drinks; I think this is real value for money.
On our last visit it was my husbands' birthday and under great secrecy I had delivered a cake and candles to the restaurant earlier in the day to be delivered to the table at the end of the meal, the members of staff were brilliant and very cooperative. The only down side to the plan was that when the cake appeared it was delivered to the wrong table, I could see a member of staff carrying a cake that looked suspiciously like my cake to the table next to ours and was starting to worry until the table all started singing happy birthday and my husband was mumbling Mr T style that he pitied the fool who's birthday it was. Once the cake was delivered there was murmurings asking who had fetched a cake going around the table and the woman who had presented the cake was protesting that the age was wrong, that was when I realised it was the cake for my husband, I indicated to the highly embarrassed waitress that it was indeed our cake and that she had spoiled the surprise, the cake was then shuffled over to our table in a discreetly embarrassed fashion and plonked in front of my husband who by this point was laughing so much that he did not mind he was the victim of cake ambush. The ladies on the table opposite were fairly embarrassed. The whole of the upstairs of the restaurant then burst into a round of very loud good natured happy birthday. The waitress could not apologise enough and the manager also apologised. I can imagine this would spoil someone else's night but it was all handled with good humour, but I do advise double and triple checking with staff what is happening if you try and surprise someone with a birthday cake.
The downstairs of Soulville Chesterfield is easily wheelchair accessible as there is a ramp up to the front doors and it is all on one level. The toilets are small and clean and are situated downstairs near the entrance.
I do advise arriving early as it can be difficult to find parking near the restaurant and there is no dedicated parking area. I also advise booking a few days in advance as it can get very busy, especially at the weekends.
In conclusion I recommend this place, the food is good the atmosphere is great and the all staff are polite, friendly and helpful. They all seem to enjoy working there which makes a big difference in the service you receive. They take cash and card payments.
All the menus and much more can be found on the Soulville website http://www.thesoulvillesteakhouse.com