For a large town, Telford has a pretty poor nightlife. With an estimated population of 155,000 (according to Wikipedia), which makes it the largest town in Shropshire, it beggars belief that we Telfordians have to travel to Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury and beyond if we want a few cocktails and some decent music to start a night out.
When I found out, via the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Facebook page “We want bars and nightlife in Southwater Telford”, that ‘The Lounges’ were bringing a lounge to Telford and that as well as being a “friendly, informal café” they also served good food and most importantly — cocktails — I was beside myself with glee.
So, imagine my excitement when I found out that Telford’s new Novello Lounge was opening on Wednesday: the school night that the kids are with their dad. Seizing the opportunity I unsubtly hinted to Gaz that we should check out the launch:
— Jem (@jemjabella) September 21, 2016
and post-run (I know, Gaz… running!) we drove over to check it out.
It was gone 8pm by the time we got there, and the venue was already packed. The people of Telford were clearly making the most of the novelty of this new café-cum-bar.
I’ve never been to one of The Lounges before so hadn’t really got a clue what to expect. Not disappointed: the interiors are cosy and eclectic, somewhat reminiscent of my Nan’s living room with its over-sized lampshades, art-packed walls and random mix of chairs (Novello Lounge, not my Nan’s living room. My Nan has been dead a while.)
Despite being very busy, we were immediately shown to a suitable table and after ordering food and drinks at the bar, it took virtually no time at all for our ‘starter’ of some bread and oil to arrive (post-run carbs!) The bread was warm and my request for butter was met with a generous handful of little packets. I’d already been won over at this point: I was glad to receive soft butter, rather than the little yellow hardened blocks you often get in pubs and restaurants.
Bread demolished, I nipped up to the bar to order a couple more cocktails (I would traditionally order one of everything “to try” but I’m skint at the minute) and while I was away from the table the main course arrived. Gaz and I had both plumped for the Steak Frites: 8oz 28 day-aged Black Angus sirloin steak with garlic butter, wild rocket & parmesan salad and fries.
I ordered my steak rare, and rare it was. You wouldn’t believe the variety of well-done-ness I’ve hard served on my plate masquerading as rare before, but this deliciously pink piece of meat ticked every box. The garlic butter was laden with garlic and packed a punch and the fries were crisp and delicious. No complaints here.
On several occasions throughout the meal we were asked if everything was OK with the food, drinks etc by multiple members of staff, which was impressive given how many people were in. While it was beginning to get a little annoying (is it just me, or do people always ask how the food is when you’ve got a massive mouthful and can’t possibly talk?) towards the end I will forgive it as first night enthusiasm. It’ll be interesting to see if the staff are as attentive in a few weeks time!
The cocktails were tasty, with the Cherry Bakewell in particular going down well, although I found the Honey & Orange Cosmopolitan a little stingy in its size (see below) and the Espresso Martini only had one shot of vodka, which is an offense to vodka lovers everywhere (AKA me). Neither complaint enough to stop me ordering them again (and again) mind you.
All in all I was pretty impressed with the Novello Lounge on its inaugural night, and look forward to popping back soon to sample more of its delights.
Apologies for the low-light photos, I only had my phone on me and the lounge was dimly lit.