Quite a number of you will be thinking ‘Hang on a minute, Head of Steam is a real ale bar and as such you should be writing about it in the Barfly column directly below this one’. But hold your horses because they also do a mean lunch and evening menu.
With this in mind, I am going to attempt to write this review without mentioning their beer at all. So let’s see how that goes.
The menu is not huge and while it is dominated by meaty dishes, there are salads (£4), onion rings (£4) and grilled halloumi (£9.50), all of which we ordered, in addition to the sample platter, which comprises most of the meat dishes they offer separately and is very good value for money.
We went for the £18 version, although there is a £32 option if you are feeling particular famished or happen to be with a large group. We went as a foursome and I have to say the £18 board was more than ample.
It consists of sticky baby back ribs, chicken wings, pulled pork and a 8oz rump steak, with grilled corn, slaw and seasoned fries.
Can I just say, though, they weren’t fries. At least, not in the sense most people understand these things. When you say to someone ‘do you want fries’, it conjures up an image of thin, twiggly things which in some respects are just another way to get more fat into our bodies. Chips on the other hand are chunky, hand-cut delicacies which actually have a centre.
The point being, the ‘fries’ at Head of Steam are, in fact, chips. Proper ones.
I ‘stole’ a chip as the wooden platter was being delivered (as you do... when you can’t wait to start eating) but it was so good I ended up going back for more, even before I considered any of the meat on offer.
Running through those very quickly, the baby back ribs were good, if a little overdone, the pulled pork was divine, the chicken wings passed muster, while the grilled corn and slaw were just about there.
The halloumi skewers , though, were terrific: chunky and salty and meat in all but name.
The chopped salad did wonders for my conscience while the onion rings sat there for most of the meal, until someone tried one and then we all piled in: crunchy on the outside, nice soft, caramelised interior - just the job to finish off what was a superb meal. All in all, it was a bit of a revelation.
The other shocker was the price of lime and soda, which can vary astonishingly from pub to pub and in some cases can cost you £1.50 a throw but here, it’s just 50p per glass. The final bill came to a very reasonable £40.25 but this included half an Oskar Dales PA (£3.25) - hoppy with a light finish - I knew I’d end up mentioning beer at some point...
HEAD OF STEAM, NORTH LANE, LS6 3HG