A venue for all aspects of the day
Venues which operate as café/bar/restaurants and segue effortlessly from breakfast through to lunch, supper and lively evening venue are on trend in hospitality. Caroline Bingham visited The Market Lounge located in the heart of Witham St Hughs.
With new communities being built across the county, social spaces and amenities are as much an essential element of the planning as schools, shops and leisure facilities.
Witham St Hughs, south of Lincoln, has grown rapidly and its ‘social hub’ The Market Lounge is located right in the heart of the village, next to the school, with plenty of free parking. We visited on a Friday evening. There is a well laid out terrace with tables and seating in front of the building sheltered by a large awning. In warmer months, when the bi-fold doors are opened, the inside and outside make one continuous area, doubling the floor space. We were greeted by Luke, the chef, and shown to our table by Honor. A bar fills one half of the counter while a coffee serving area and chilled cabinet showcasing cakes and bakes, take up the other.
The décor is contemporary copper and natural palettes with a mix of tables that can be joined for larger parties or kept in more intimate arrangements for couples or fours.
Tables and the bar were already occupied with early evening drinkers and diners. The beauty for many is that The Market Lounge is within walking distance and perfect for a family supper out, girls’ wine evening or a pint after work. No need to book a taxi or be miles away when you need to get home.
Pulling off the trick of being an all day venue is not easy but The Market Lounge seems to have the tempo and food offer right. Luke came to talk to us when we had finished our starter of halloumi fries with sweet chilli dip and mains of roasted vegetable curry and rice and oven baked salmon fillet on roasted vegetables served with new potatoes and a lemon and herb dressing. He explained that he lives in Witham and relishes working so close to home.
Many parents meet up for coffee and cake after dropping the children off at school. Lunch and afternoon tea time see shoppers taking a break and friends meeting up while in the evening, The Market Lounge becomes a friendly and social diner and bar.
The menu reflects this progression with a wide and varied breakfast offer until 11.30am after which a lunch and evening menu of sandwiches, salads, filled jacket potatoes and larger plated meals are available. There is a children’s menu and a very tempting cocktail selection, a note of which I have made for next time.
The larger plates menu includes a homemade beef burger, chicken carbonara, burritos or pizzas with a choice of sides. Prices are excellent value for money with a full English priced at £7.25 and the oven baked salmon at £11.50.
There will be more special, themed dining events for Wednesday evenings this year so keep an eye out for those. As traditional wet pubs have closed as pivotal meeting points in the community, the new wave of rendezvous venues follow The Market Lounge model. It is wonderful to see that the community have taken it so to their hearts.