If my trip to Platform 5 is anything to go by, business seems to be back on track at The Pullman.
Like most Mackems, I’ve seen this coastal pub, hotel and venue, and its landmark train carriages, undergo many guises over the years.
Due to a lack of consistency and mixed fortunes, the venue seemed to have lost its way and a regular clientele.
However, if there’s anything that will pull you back to the Pullman, it’s its latest reincarnation.
At the end of last year, it was taken over by a consortium of businessmen on a five-year lease, who are making great strides in breathing new life into a large venue, which had previously stood empty.
The first stage in the revamp was the opening of Platform 5, a bar and restaurant at the rear.
Aside from its Pullman carriages – from the Orient Express no less – I’ve never been a big fan of its uninviting exterior.
But the new management have worked wonders in injecting an air of warm sophistication into the interiors.
I know “shabby chic” is being done to death at the minute, but it really works here and helps to create a coherent theme with the
vintage carriages at the front of the venue.
We took a pew in one of the carriage booths in the bar and got stuck into the menu. It’s a well thought-out read: bar nibbles such as pork pie and pickle (£2.25) for snacking and a list of more substantial grub, such as panackelty (£8), for those after a big meal.
We decided to dabble in both and ordered a selection of dishes to share.
Slightly disappointed to hear they were out of scotch eggs, we chose a replacement of real ale battered onion rings with garlic mayo (£2.50), alongside potted brown shrimps (£5.50); a cheddar and pickle sandwich and salad (£4.95); ham terrine with pease pudding, piccalilli and
grilled stottie (£4.50) and chips (£2.20).
All arrived together, as requested. It was a classic case of “eyes bigger than our bellies” as we waded through the generous portions.
The stars of the show were the terrine and the chips. The former was presented as though we were dining in a fine restaurant and was beautifully smooth.
The meaty slab of terrine was complemented perfectly by a tart piccalilli, all decorated with artistic swirls of balsamic vinegar.
The chips, presented in a trendy metal bucket, were a meal in itself – huge whoppers which were fluffy on the inside with a real crunch on the outside, thanks to being triple-cooked. Heston Blumenthal eat your heart out.
I would have perhaps liked a tad more shrimp in the potted shrimp, a minor quibble, but it was still a classic dish which had been executed well.
Drinks are also traditional treats with the usual range of beers and lager and some real ales, including their own branded Pullman and Platform 5.
There’s a comprehensive range of cocktails where you can pick up a mojito (£4.45), almost half the price of those served up in chain bars.
After witnessing Platform 5’s triumphant new guise, it will be interesting to see how the newly-opened function room fares, as well as the iconic carriages, which are due to be brought back to life in the summer.
The website could do with tackling too. It’s great food with a refreshing local twist, they should shout about it by featuring the menu online.