If there's ever a good time to go out for a family dinner, it's just before you go on holiday and your fridge looks like this:
And whilst I'm not averse to having champagne and fruit for dinner, I don't know that it's brilliant parenting.
So it was definitely time for a pub meal. Plus it felt like we were starting our family holiday a little earlier by having a meal together 36 hours before going.
We headed for The Maxwells in Loughborough, Leicestershire - not far from us - and very easy to get to - just off the A6.
It's a Sizzling Pub and anyone who has been to a Sizzling Pub before knows what this means; big portions, lots of freshly cooked meat, served on a still-sizzling hot plate, so much choice and fantastic prices.
As we arrived, my husband and I realised we had been before many moons ago before we had children and back when we slept in beyond 6am every morning. Back then it was a bit dingy, and in need of a lot of tlc to make it more inviting and presentable. Fast forward about seven years and it is hardly recognisable. The interior is bright, clean and decorated with modern furnishings.
Glass of wine optional!
We walked in and the children went straight to the toy boxes and the colouring in sheets. All parents know that the key to happy customers with children is keeping the kids busy so that the parents can actually relax! The Big One was very happy with a selection of colouring in (I never thought we'd reach the stage where colouring in entertained our children for more than seven seconds but hang in there parents of toddlers - there will come a time!) The Little One found a toy digger which he played with for ages, excavating his crayons (provided by The Maxwells) and a sachet of tartare sauce which he found under the table after our main courses!
He's colouring in! For longer than half a minute!
Talking of food - yum! Me and the husband had three starters between us because we just couldn't decide! We went for Crispy Potato Skins with Cheese and Bacon, Glazed Chicken Wings with Peri-Peri and Beer Battered Salt and Pepper Mushrooms. All were really nice but the mushrooms were my favourite! Crispy batter which really did taste of salt and pepper. I'd definitely have these again, although I did like the look of the Nachos and the Grilled Prawn Skewer. They actually do a fantastic deal which we would take advantage of again, especially if we were visiting for lunch; you can use the starters like tapas dishes and mix and match them to share. Based on our starters, I would definitely recommend this!
The children's food came out with our starters and was impressive. The Big One had gone for adult fish and chips because he wanted 'proper' fish. He promptly removed it all from the batter but ate nearly every bit of a large piece of cod which, for a four year old who would survive entirely on popcorn chicken and raspberries if we let him, was pretty amazing. The Little One had chicken nuggets and baby potatoes which went down a storm. Almost as much as the corn on the cob which he smothered in a delightful concoction of butter and ketchup which only a two year old could enjoy. The chicken nuggets looked homemade - irregular chunks of chicken breast in crispy batter. They were almost as popular as the corn on the cob, which is quite an accolade.
Our mains arrived next and, despite me intending to photograph beautiful untouched plates of food, it all looked so good we dived straight in and I forgot! Because I needed to wear a bikini in front of other human beings only a day or so later, I opted for a superfood salad. But then, because I love food too much, I added halloumi and chilli glazed prawn skewers to it. To be honest, I think I needed these additions because, whilst I love salads, I mostly love them when they have big chunks of cheese or avocado or deep fried croutons on them. Without my protein additions I might have wanted a little more. With them however, I couldn't finish the bowl! It was so filling but delicious at the same time; greens, tomatoes, halloumi, chickpeas, sultanas, quinoa, prawns - so good. I remembered half way through about the photo, but I think I'd eaten nearly all the prawns by this point! You still get an idea of how fresh and colourful it was though:
My husband had a steak (he'd eat steak every day if he could). He went for a 'Black and Blue' steak - an 8oz sirloin covered in Stilton cheese and served with a mushroom and brandy sauce. It arrived sizzling and, by the time I remembered to take a picture, there was hardly anything left - so it must've been good!
We were too full for desserts but, of course, the kids were still raring to go once they knew there was ice cream on offer. Children always have room for dessert! The Big One was enticed by/excited about/beside himself with glee with a 'build your own sundae' where they serve your ice cream in a bowl and bring you smaller bowls of marshmallows, chocolate buttons, chocolate sprinkles and chocolate sauce, whilst the Little One went for ice cream with fresh strawberries.
He's not yet perfected the art of 'smile for the camera' but he did donate a few chocolate buttons to his little brother!
It was the perfect way to start our holiday time together. The children were well behaved and entertained (thanks to colouring-in and a plastic digger - we didn't have to use our phones to entertain them once! Imagine that!) and they ate well because the food was good. We were full and had actually managed to relax and drink a glass of wine without having to get up every few seconds to chase the kids around the restaurant. Fantastic value for money - great portions, fresh food and so much to choose from - lots of choice for Vegetarians and even a selection for Vegan customers (a few main dishes to choose from which is very rare on a pub menu!)
You can view the extensive menu here and visit the website for more info here. You can even sign up to their mailing list for fantastic deals and get £5 off your next food bill just by signing up.
You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date menus and deals.
Disclaimer: We were offered a meal at The Maxwells in exchange for this honest and open review. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.