Review: Retro Restaurant, Roker Hotel, Sunderland

Retro Restaurant (formerly Tavistock Italia) at the Best Western Roker Hotel - Roker, Sunderland...
Retro Restaurant (formerly Tavistock Italia) at the Best Western Roker Hotel - Roker, Sunderland...
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IT’S out with the Rat Pack and in with the retro at this newly-refurbished seafront venue.

Gone are black and white shots of Frank Sinatra and other music and film alumni, to be replaced with a host of shabby chic trinkets.

There’s kitsch lampshades, a Singer sewing machine, distressed chairs and more dotted about – and even a recreation of a 1950s living room.

It’s a veritable treasure trove of vintage finds. My friends Alex and Jo were impressed: there’s no other eaterie decorated quite like this in Sunderland. Big thumbs up so far.

We visited post-work on a Thursday evening and as owners Tavistock Leisure were running a promotion of buy one main meal get another for £1, the place was packed to its decorated rafters.

Though we had booked, it took a while for one of the waiting staff to notice us. But once our presence had been recognised, they soon took us to our table.

Each table at the restaurant reveals some other nick nack to look at, so it took us some time to choose from the menu, in between admiring the surroundings and picking up some home decor tips.

The menu echoes the restaurant’s former guise as Tavistock Italia with pizza, pasta, chicken et al.

The starters are a little pricey, most come in at the £6.25 mark, but we were soon to find out why. They were whoppers.

My choice, a roast ham, wild mushroom and asparagus pancake, topped with melted cheese and chive sauce (£5.50), could have been passed off as a main meal.

It was delectable: very rich, but very moreish and I savoured every mouthful.

Alex, meanwhile, tucked into a classic Italian starter – tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad (£5.95).

Though beautifully presented, she was a little disappointed by the unripe avocado. Joanne opted for one of the cheaper starters, the soup of the day (£4.75), which is again generously portioned.

Like its predecessor, this restaurant certainly doesn’t skimp on ingredients and our main meals were equally tummy filling and rich.

I chose the most expensive pizza option – the allo scoglio, king scallops, tiger prawns and squid sauteed in garlic butter, which comes with a price tag of £9.25.

It was served with a thin base which allowed the flavour of the plump prawns and delicious scallops to shine through.

Alex’s starter slip-up was saved by a scrumptious main meal from Retro’s modern pasta range.

She highly recommends the rigatoni contandina – rigatoni pasta with strips of beef fillet with wild mushrooms and caramalised onions in a red wine and tomato sauce. (£8.75).

The star of the show ingredients-wise was the beef, which was succulent and cooked to perfection.

Chicken-lover Joanne stuck with her favourite and ordered pollo pepe, which at £12.95, is the standard price for one of the menu’s chicken dishes.

The presentation was pretty and she was presented with a good quality chicken breast, complemented by a green pepper sauce.

Our meal was a bargain at £43, although this was down to that day’s special offer and the fact we stuck to soft drinks.

For those watching the pennies, an evening happy hour menu runs from 5pm to 6.45pm.