Should the Market Place in Kettering now be called the Eating Place?
Three new restaurants have opened there with the most recent being Kino Lounge, which is in the old Corn Exchange building.
The Lounges are a small chain of eight, with four more to open soon and bill themselves as neighbourhood cafe/bars.
Open from morning through to evening and serving food all day, they aim to offer something for everyone.
The Kettering Lounge already seems to be dividing opinion on everything from its decor to its food, although I’ve yet to hear anyone say a bad word about the staff, who are young, friendly and enthusiastic.
Firstly, the decor. I suspect you either like it or you don’t. Having never been in the building in any of its previous incarnations I wasn’t sure what to expect.
As you walk in what strikes you is how large the space is, then you notice the huge lamps and the stags heads on the walls and then, probably, the fact that there is a lot of bare brick. According to my friend Owain it looks a bit “like how you’d think a hotel in Italy would look after the fall of Tibruk”. His wife, Heather, rather more kindly described it as “shabby chic”. It’s certainly daring and it’s worth popping in just for a look.
The food is less daring and, on the night we were there, didn’t match up to the wow factor of the building.
Perhaps the problem with trying to be all things to all people is that you end up not really pleasing anyone.
The menu ranges from brunch to sandwiches to hot dogs and “Loungers”, dishes such as fishcakes and curry.
Ade, Heather, Owain and I shared three tapas to start (£9.25).
We had the lamb and mint koftas with tzatziki, mozzarella stuffed arancini balls with pesto and the edamame beans with sesame, sweet chilli and soy sauce.
Perhaps the problem is that by writing the menu descriptions as you’d expect to find in a posher restaurant your expectations are set too high. The dishes were fine, but certainly nothing more.
The main courses divided opinions.
I had wanted the grilled halloumi salad but they had run out of halloumi so I had the goats cheese and cherry tomato salad instead. It cost £9.25 and came with spinach, green beans, edamame beans, rocket, Parmesan and a pesto dressing. I also ordered a side of ciabatta at 95p.
The salad was disappointing small, I certainly needed the bread to bulk it out, and was rather heavy on the spinach and rocket, and light on the tomatoes.
Heather had more luck with her choice, the summer frittata (£7.95) which was described as “feta, wood roasted peppers, spinach, new potatoes served with three bean salad, house slaw and garlic bread”, which she enjoyed.
The lads both had burgers, Ade going for the rib tickler (£9.75), which came with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, cheese, sour cream and a sweetcorn relish.
It was served in a brioche bun and came with chips.
He was disappointed with the number of chips, partly because he said they were very good, but enjoyed his burger.
Owain’s choice was the hero burger (£9.25), a six ounce burger with chorizo, cheese, red onion, chimichurri, chipotle mayonaise and marinated chilli.
Again this came in a brioche bun and came with chips. He enjoyed the burger but again would have preferred more chips.
Both men also said they would have preferred a burger bun rather than the more trendy brioche bun.
Having said all that, Kino Lounge deserves to do well. The staff are delightful and the owners have injected new life into the building.
Once it’s found its feet I’m sure it will thrive. It has a laidback atmosphere and a different vibe to other places in Kettering and will appeal to all ages. It is certainly worth a try.
DISABLED ACCESS: Yes
PARKING: Council car park nearby
COST OF OUR MEAL: £46.40
JANET’S STAR RATING: 6/10
1-3 Market Place
Kettering, NN16 0AL