Review: Sonny’s Diner, Queen Alexandra Road, Sunderland

Sonny's Diner, Grangetown, in the former Alexandra pub.
Sonny's Diner, Grangetown, in the former Alexandra pub.
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THIS Grangetown landmark has appeared in many different guises over the years – The Porcupine Park, The Alexandra, Tavistock at The Alexandra.

Now it’s Sonny’s Diner, a pub restaurant with an American/Italian theme.

Back in the day, I was a glass collector at the Alex, my first rung on the career ladder, and I’ve barely been back since.

But looking for a place to eat that would suit everyone in the clan, from my 50-something mother to my eight-year-old niece, we decided to give it a whirl.

It’s changed since I was a teenage employee with the traditional Rovers Return-esque decor swapped for various celebrity signed photos and film memorabilia on the wall.

First impressions were good as our service was excellent. The waiter was informative and chatty and more than deserved his tip.

And, despite half the group arriving before 7pm, and the rest after, he said we could still order from the special offer menu, which runs from 5pm to 7pm.

It’s three courses for £4.95 and includes choices such as soup or potato skins; pizza or pasta and ice cream.

Three of our group chose this, while the rest of us chose from the main menu which had more choice than I expected.

There was a good range of pizza, pasta, chicken, steak, fish and children’s dishes to get your teeth into.

It took a while for our food to be served, but the waiter kept us informed and apologised that a large group of diners had delayed kitchen staff.

There was a further delay with my big brother’s starter, a cheese, tomato and garlic pizza, but though it arrived only a few minutes after ours, it was knocked off the bill.

But the food was well worth the wait.

It was all very nicely presented on those contemporary square plates that seem to be all the rage at the minute.

I tucked into my goats cheese starter (£4.95), which I recommend.

I have a slight cheese addiction and this huge slab of melt-in-your-mouth cheese didn’t disappoint and was complemented well by a rocket salad.

For those with a big appetite, my mum’s starter of nachos is a good choice as she was presented with a huge plate of nachos with lashings of sour cream for £5.95.

My main meal was spot on too. In the wrong hands, risotto can be a gooey mess, but this mushroom one was delicious: not too rich and packed with flavour.

I sampled my brother’s fillet steak £15.95, which was also excellent and he says one of the best he’s had in a while – a big compliment from a massive meat eater like him.

My little brother Michael’s salmon pizza, was top heavy with toppings and was more than excellent value as it was part of the three courses for £4.95 offer.

Mum went for the valdastana, which was also good value at £8.95. She thoroughly enjoyed her chicken breast which was smothered in ham and cheese.

Unlike the flattened excuse for a chicken breast you’re sometimes presented with at restaurants, this was a real chunky affair that was moist and flavoursome. Big thumbs up.

My only quibble was that we were seated near the entrance to the toilets and there was an occasional drain smell, but it wouldn’t put me off going back.

Due to special offers our bill for six of us, plus drinks, was just £80.85.