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REVIEW: Coal Grill and Bar, Festival Place
Coal Grill and Bar,
Festival Place, Basingstoke
CONSIDERING there are only seven Coal restaurants in the country, I guess we should be proud to have one here in Basingstoke. After going there for a meal, I can report we should all be very happy about it as well.
It has a spacious and interesting interior, with a pleasant amount of space between tables to give a bit of intimacy, but still retains a lively atmosphere certainly aided by the cut-price cocktails on offer at weekends.
My partner and I were shown to our table by a friendly waiter who asked us how our day had been (simple, but something I often find lacking in many eateries) and took a table by the window, where we happily watched people milling around on their way to the cinema, shops and restaurants that make this part of town so special.
To the food. It is a massively varied menu that will please all palettes. Mexican, Italian and good old English dishes sit comfortably side by side, meaning you can theme a three course meal or mix and match if you’re feeling particularly daring. We opted for the latter.
The nachos with sour cream, guacamole, salsa and cheese was a little dear at £6.55, but was well worth it to share as the portions are ample. For main course my partner – who has raved about the Coal moussaka in the past – opted for the gnocchi with grilled Mediterranean vegetables in pesto olive oil, while I went for the fajitas.
All the food comes out of the Coal kitchen looking a little greasy, but that is part of the charm. It is good quality food without breaking the bank – and so there are always going to be concessions.
For my part, the fajitas were excellent, with enough ingredients to ensure each fajita was fit to burst with cheese, salsa and chicken. The pasta also won rave reviews and looked as good as anything I have seen come out of Italian-only restaurants around town.
For dessert we shared a sticky toffee pudding, which was excellent and managed to avoid some of the hard lumps I seem to come across too frequently when ordering this dessert. The meal for £45 with tips and drinks was very reasonable as well.
In conclusion, do not treat Coal as another generic chain restaurant. It is a fine eatery with good staff and is well worth a visit.