As pub food and drink prices continue to soar to the heavens, it’s little wonder that some punters are seeking solace in the cheaper prices offered at venues run by the bigger chains.
And they don’t come much bigger than Stonegate Pub Company, the owners of Yates, which operates more than 690 pubs and bars across the UK.
Last month Yates, formerly known as Yates Wine Lodge, launched a new menu which promised good grub at great prices.
After a hard day at the coal face of multimedia local journalism my colleague and I took a well-earned screen break and headed for the bright lights of Brighton’s West Street, ready for sustenance.and victuals .
Obviously it’s in a rather ‘lively’ part of town but the Brighton branch, one of 70 across the UK, is a bright and airy place, which is nicely lit and comfortable enough.
I started the evening with an excellent pint of Hop House 13, the new(ish) lager from Guinness.
Which, as the name suggests, is a hoppy little critter which is targeted at the new generation lager drinkers who also like the odd craft beer and, as a direct result, now like a bit clout in their amber nectar.
My colleague stuck with what she knew and loved - a pint of Stella.
Similarly, she opted for some safe but perfectly serviceable breaded mushrooms as a pre-dinner nibble. I warned her not to eat too many because she wouldn’t have mush-room for anything else, and she told me I wasn’t nearly as funny as I thought I was.
The revamped menu features most the usual suspects of pub grub but with a few new additions along the way.
Britons now seem to love burgers more than most and their penchant for patties is reflected in the new menu.
I plumped for a new addition to the menu - the NY Deli Burger.
A 6oz beef burger was piled high with pulled pastrami beef, cheese, gherkins and American mustard.
This jaw-stretching beast of a burger was a carnivore’s dream and wouldn’t have been out of place in a much more expensive trendy smokehouse joint.
The pulled beef was juicy and packed with flavour, making the burger sing. and taking the dish out of the realm of the ordinary.
Impressive and competitively priced at £8.95 with chips and a little pot of smoked mayo.
My colleague also happens to be a callow and confused vegetarian, but her fajita veggie burger, was a cut above the usual standard of .
Who wouldn’t like a smokey slab of red peppers and chilli with Monterey Jack and mozzarella cheese, coated with a nacho-style crumb?
Genuinely jolly good, and at £6.75 it’s even more of a bargain than its meaty counterpart.
Both dishes came with rather disappointing chips, served in a mug, aping the hipster fashion of food in unlikely containers.
But this was probably the only criticism we could level at the two mains, and next time round I’d upgrade to sweet potato fries.
Still to come was a zingy and zesty orange and marble cake. The sponge was lighter than a nurse’s pay packet and was covered in lush melted chocolate.
Pudding part two came in an unlikely form as we dabbled in the cocktail menu.
We were told the Porn Star Martini was the pub’s most popular cocktail and it felt churlish to go against the received wisdom of West Street’s finest.
It contained an absurd amount of ingredients but tasted like a sweet dream. Albeit a boozy sweet dream made from Absolut Vanilia vodka and Passoã liqueur, coupled with passion fruit purée, caramel syrup, pineapple juice and sugar syrup – served with a shot of Prosecco on the side.
My colleague gulped down classic Mojito, full of fresh mint, muddled with sugar syrup, lime and Havana Club three-year-old rum, then topped with crushed ice and soda.
The cocktail menu is a whopper, featuring more classics and some candy-inspired creations, all of which are on a mix and match two-for-one offer all day every day.
So, all things considered, it was a decent meal and it transpired the description of the new menu wasn’t an idle boast - the food was good and the prices even better.