Review: The Diner at Butlins Minehead

Monday, 20 April 2015

We've had a good run of holidays at Butlins.  On our most recent visit to Bognor at Easter it turned out that we are now Gold members of the Premier club - this was holiday number eight in the last five years.

One of the most interesting things for us is seeing how they develop the sites - the old places close down or get refurbished and new places come along.  We were really interested when the Firehouse Grill opened at Minehead and we were one of the first visitors to it.  We had a good nosey around where the new chalets are due to open later this year.  Like I say, it's interesting to see how the site evolves.  Last year, we were slightly disappointed that we just missed out on the opening of the Bognor Regis Diner but our disappointment was short lived as we were again one of the first visitors to the Minehead restaurant.  They've certainly pushed the boat out.  The decor is amazing - a complete change from the Newsbreak shop that was there before.  It's bright, cheery and aims to emulate 1960s America.  It's loud too - it can be a little difficult to hear the other people on your table!

The first thing of note is the menus on clipboards.  A bit unwieldy and a bit odd looking really.  The menus themselves continue the colourful theme of the restaurant and there aren't too many surprises on it - burgers, hot dogs, sundaes and milkshakes feature prominently.  As is often the case, the vegetarian choices were a little sparse, although I was glad to see avocado offered on a couple of dishes.  There was also the predictable veggie burger but more on that later.  

 D got straight down to his activity sheet which suited his age perfectly.  We ate at the diner twice and there was enough to keep him entertained (although I would have liked to have seen a second offering personally).  The characters on the sheet were well considered - it was nice to see that they had created a whole load of characters from the era with a whole back story.  One of the entertainers posing as Rocky spent some time telling D all about it.  He was great - clearly very much in role.

D loved the chair that could spin around and was made to look like a motorbike.  He had great fun with Roo - just the right size for two lovely siblings.

Talking of which, this is one of my favourite photos of the holiday.  While D has always been really proud and protective of his sister, her interest and engagement with him is beginning to shine through here.  He loves that she gives him the biggest smiles.  

So, the food.  We went twice and tried a few different bits of the menu.  On our first visit, I couldn't ignore the Shroomies.  They were calling to me in a voice that just could not be denied.  I was glad to have them.  Thick, juicy slices of mushroom which a crunchy breading and a very garlicky mayonnaise.  Perfect.  

We also opted to share the nachos.  These were a little less satisfying.  The guacamole was a little too smooth and the tiny peppers were interesting but unremarkable overall.  I'm not sure that we got to the bottom of this.  

For my main, I opted for the avocado, lettuce, tomato philly wrap on a spinach wrap.  I was initially a little worried when the wrap arrived - the amount of Philadelphia was pretty large!  It turned out that this was because it wasn't very even through the wrap meaning that it didn't contain half a tub of the cream cheese.  It was a pretty decent option, if a little expensive for what it was.  

On our second visit, I had the veggie burger.  That really wasn't anything to write home about.  Although the presentation was interesting - with the B branded in to the bun - it just all felt a bit nondescript.  A bit lacking in the flavour that it could have had.  

The milkshakes however are worth mentioning.  They are very generous - two large glasses for each patron.  I would have liked to have seen junior sizes - this felt like a bit of an oversight - but otherwise, I'd find it hard to fault them.  Mr K was rather pleased with his American cider which was a brand he hadn't tried before.  

The entertainment proved really difficult to take photos of.  Every so often in the busier times of the day, there would be entertainers singing the odd song and then walking around and talking to the tables in between.  They were all extremely friendly and popular with the kids.  It certainly made for a talking point.  

Overall, our experience was a bit of a mixed one.  We had a very long wait for the bill the first time we visited and it was only forthcoming after I asked the third member of staff for it.  Given that it was early days, hopefully this wasn't representative.  The second time we visited it was a bit better. The vegetarian offerings were half and half for me.  The milkshakes were good and D enjoyed himself.  We'd return for these reasons alone.   We do generally feel like it would be nice if Butlins offered something other than burgess though - there is a bit of a tendency for the same kinds of eateries.  The entertainment does it make it more interesting but a noodle bar would be ace if you guys are listening?

I am reviewing the Diner off my own back.  We paid for our meal ourselves and our holiday ourselves and all thoughts and opinions are my own and those of the KneadWhine family.

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