Best thing about the heatwave? Beer gardens of course!
Sun on your shoulders, pint in your hand - there can be few greater pleasures in life.
While the sun has his hat on - for once - city centre businesses have been making the most of the chance to offer al fresco eating and drinking with new businesses such as Engine Room, The Peacock and Mexico 70 all offering places to sup outside
And one of the city’s biggest, and most-established beer gardens, Revolution, has also had a makeover of late. In keeping with the city’s links to author Lewis Carroll, it’s ventured down the rabbit hole to adopt an Alice in Wonderland theme. Windows emblazoned with the Cheshire Cat and sayings such as ‘we’re all mad here’ and a grandfather clock are all classic Wonderland.
Mini wellington boots filled with faux flowers strung to the fencing and a wall of umbrellas tied with belts are a looser interpretation, but it all helps to create a fun vibe and inject some character into a chain bar.
We visited during warm weather on Sunday afternoon expecting to have to fight for a space in the outdoor seating area, but the fact this was the day after England’s win against Croatia meant the city was suffering a collective hangover.
Rewind the clock to the night before and it was a different story with the pubs in Low Row doing a booming trade thanks to the FanZone - so much so, Revs had actually ran out of some beers on draught - though I’m sure they’ve been restocked now.
After one too many the night before, we were more interested in the food menu, which offers a better selection than your average pub grub. It’s a comprehensive menu filled with plenty of hangover cures, such as slow cooked BBQ ribs (£12.95), steak sandwich (£9.50) and a meat beast pizza (£9.95), with a smaller range of healthier choices such as skinny blackened chicken (£8.95).
We chose a selection of the bar snacks and small plates to start, including popcorn halloumi (£4.95) and harissa houmous (£4.25). The former were as sinful as they sounded: breaded balls of gooey cheese that once you pop you can’t start, while the chuncky houmous worked well with the hit of harissa.
For mains I chose the superfood salad with chicken (£9.95). It’s not the cheapest salad on the market, but it may be one of the biggest.
I struggled to finish the huge bowl of smashed avocado - a whole one at least - which rubbed shoulders with moist quinoa and lentils, wheatberries, wafer thin ribbons of cucumber, carrot and soya beans in a mango and chilli dressing, It was better than I expected, a nice medley of contrasting textures and fresh flavours. My only quibble was that the menu said it came with pulled chicken, but it came with chicken chunks instead. They were a little on the dry side, but the rest of the salad made up for it.
You can shave some pounds off your bill by visiting Monday to Friday when you can pick up two courses for under a tenner - though this is only on selected mains - or use your revolution card to get 25percent off your bill. I didn’t realise they still did the discount cards, but they’re definitely worth keeping in your wallet.