I must admit, my achy-breaky heart sank into my cowboy boots at the prospect of reviewing an American diner at Valley Centertainment.
Americans, and retail parks, are not renowned for fine dining. Slaw, dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in a Happy Days setting are Yankee doodle dandy if that’s your thing.
But we rocked up at the new Coast To Coast restaurant and bar to find the former Boardwalk diner looking sleek and sophisticated. There’s a lovely whiff of leather from stylish circular green seating booths and polished mahogany, tiled and wooden floors and a long sweep of bar perfect for a pre-cinema cocktail add up to a classy, American club feel. It’s a massive place but the decor, and a nicely dim lighting, create intimacy.
The menu is equally vast; it’s a gastronomic Route 66 from east to west coast America; steaks and grills, sizzling fajitas, wraps and melts, ribs, jambalaya, pastas, US-style salads, Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas… And it looks on the pricy side, especially the drinks. A small white wine is £4.65 and a bottle of Brooklyn beer is £5.25.
Coast to Coast’s American cocktails go from the classic Mojito to Peanut Butter and Key Lime Pie Martini. I have a Scarlett O’Hara mocktail, a £3.65 blend of ginger ale, raspberry puree and lime juice was a tad too sweet to blow me away. His blackcurrant cheesecake shake, £4.25, made of cream, milk and ice cream is a heavenly though artery-hardening dairy overload which tastes of Ribena.
My starter, chicken and sweetcorn chowder, is £5.95. But it’s worth every penny. Instead of a bowl, steaming-hot, creamy soup is inside a cottage loaf you eat as you go. It’s better value than the husband’s nice but ordinary Chicken Tenders, three breaded strip s of tender, super-sized goujons with salad and sour cream, £6.55.
We greet the arrival of our burgers with that classic American refrain: OMG. My three Roadside Sliders, £13.95, look pop art perfect. It’s hard to tell the bacon and cheese one from the BBQ pulled pork, but each 2oz burger is a neat treat of freshly-pressed corn-fed Aberdeen Angus. The glutton’s Double Burger, £16.95 looks like a cartoon. Two 6oz burgers topped with BBQ pulled pork, cheese, bacon, mayo, tomato, red onion, rocket and dill pickle smothered in philly cheese and BBQ sauce have him licked. He leaves his brioche buns (we weren’t keen on them anyway; they’re a bit sweet and greasy), half his tin bucket of perfect fries and the overly creamy slaw.
The service was American-style friendliness and desserts look truly, divinely death defying – chocolate honeycomb and blackcurrant cheesecake ice cream, nut-stuffed chocolate brownies, pecan pie, Mint Oreo Sundae... “Please don’t make me have one,” he begs. I get the bill (£51.40). I don’t like to see a grown man cry.
Coast To Coast, Valley Centertainment, Broughton Lane, Attercliffe S9 2DX. Contact: 0114 2438338.
Food 5, Atmosphere 6, Service 6, Value 4