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A couple of weeks ago, my parents and I, along with my children, decided we would go out for a bar meal. We've all been quite busy recently and it's been quite a while since we got together like this.
We decided to go to a place we knew pretty well, which was reliable and child friendly. Knowing it as it's former name, 'The Carrow House', and more recently 'The Border Gate' and part of the Brewers Fayre chain we headed off. Arriving, we where surprised to see it had been taken over again, and completely refurbished, now under the name '"Table Table'"
About Table Table
This isn't a chain I personally have ever come across before, indeed didn't realise it was actually part of the same company as Brewers Fayre.
Part of The Whitbread Chain, Table Table has a more up-market feel than it's sister chain Brewers Fayre.
Table Table offer:
"A relaxed atmosphere with a range of tables and spaces to make your experience one to remember. Choose a table with luxurious laid-back sofas for a business meeting, a homely dining room space for a family celebration, or pull up a chair beside one of our burning log fires for a more romantic meal. Whatever the occasion, we have a table to suit."
Like Brewers Fayre, Table Table can often be found right next to a Premier Inn, A hotel partner, making it a good meeting place for business.
Looking at the map on the Table Table web page, there seems to be a lot of these Pub restaurants right across Britain, from Aberdeen to Plymouth, and Northern Ireland. Nearest restaurants, directions, full menu and more information can be found at www.tabletable.co.uk
Free parking is provided to guests at all restaurants.
Our Table Table
The branch that we visited is just on the southern outskirts of Carlisle, from the M6 ringroad at junction 42, take the A6 northbound towards
Carleton. (I should warn you here I don't drive, so if you would like to visit this particular Table Table, I recommend double checking those directions!)
Although quite near the motor way, it is set in well maintained secluded grounds, with a Premier In adjacent to it. There are outdoor seating area's, however while the landscaping gives the gardens a secluded feel, you can still very much hear the motor way. It was too cold to even be an issue when we went, but can see it would be an annoyance if you did want to eat or drink outdoors.
Entering Table Table I was instantly struck by the interior. It mixed contemporary and traditional very well, and was warm, inviting and incredibly clean feeling. An abundance of textures from smooth wood, plush velvet, wicker, slate, stainless steel and stone made it look very interesting yet all tied in wonderfully. It's teal and deep purple accent colouring give it a warm and luxurious feel.
We were immediately approached by a staff member, who greeted us warmly and pointed us away from the more casual bar area, into the dining area. Table Table is set out in such a way as to create booths, and almost small individual rooms, each with a different feel and atmosphere. We chose a large wooden dining table, which was in a completely private alcove, next to a window looking out onto the gardens. Other choices were more formal dining areas with gorgeous velvet seating, leather covered booths and relaxed and romantic wicker and wood seating around a log fire. I could definitely see how they had created different dining spaces to suit different occasions, and think they have pulled this off very well.
My children are passed the age of needing a high chair, but I did notice that these were available, so I am assuming children are more than welcome here. Probably what I liked most about our large family dining table in our own 'room' almost, was that I didn't have to worry so much about my children bothering anyone else. Although I hasten to add, they are generally very well behaved anyway while out eating!
As well as mens and ladies toilet facilities, there is a baby changing room. I only visited the ladies, and the sleek contemporary yet plush feeling is carried on here. The toilets were impeccably clean, however they were very small with only 2 cubicles, which would be an annoyance if more than 2 people were in the que, as you would be spilling out into the bar.
After choosing a seat, we were quickly approached by another member of staff, who took our drinks orders and made sure we were ok. The menu's are already on the tables, so we were left to decide on our meals for 10 minutes, and then approached again. I found the service to be very good, with extremely pleasant and friendly staff, who checked regularly if everything was ok, without being intrusive, and anticipated in good time when we might be ready for service.
There was definitely music playing while we were visiting, but as I can not remember any particular songs I would say it's unobtrusive background music, though I'd definitely guess pop/chart music rather than pianist lounge music!
The menu is typical bar food. There's a lunchtime, main and kids menu, and Sunday Roast on...a Sunday.
As it was after 6pm, we ordered from the main menu. There's choice of the usual pub favourites, steaks and burgers, as well as a daily specials board. Most main courses are under £8, with only the rump and sirloin steak over £10.
My mum and my son decided on the Beef and Boddingtons pie, which came served with mashed potatoes and peas, and individual tiny gravy jugs. They both thought it was delicious, however my Mum would have liked more vegetables.
My dad chose his usual, Chicken Makhani Curry with rice and naan, and also a side order of chips. It looked very very good, and a very generous portion. My dad, when asked if it was nice replied, 'mmmmmmmmmmm', which from him, is very positive!
I chose chicken nuggets and chips for my daughter, from the childrens menu, which also came with a dessert and drink for £4.99. I tasted the chicken nuggets and they where solid peices of chicken breast, big thumbs up. There is also an organic kids menu for £1 more, my daughter insisted on the nuggets though. I have to say I have rarely seen such an extensive kids menu before. A colouring book and crayon pack is also supplied with every kids meal.
Finally I had cheese burger and fries, which came with a delicious and plentiful salad and home-made coleslaw. The burger wasn't the biggest, but was very good, being thick British beef. The chips where fantastic!
My kids both had ice-cream for dessert, while we adults opted for another drink. They both got a really nice sized serving, with sauce and wafers.
We were all very impressed with our food. Yes, it's pub grub, but it's definitely quality pub grub. It tasted fresh and well cooked. The only complaint we could find was the lack of vegetables with the beef pie.
My Dad paid the bill (thanks Dad!) but I have totted the cost up to roughly just over £50. I think for 4 adult meals, 1 childs and 2 drinks each this was a reasonable price to pay, and indeed about standard for a bar meal. Yet I feel the quality of the food, and the service, surpassed most chain Pub restaurants, including Table Tables own sister chain, Brewers Fayre.
I loved the design of Table Table, and feel I would suggest going here with different people, for different occasions. I also wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others and can absolutly see it suiting the needs of people requiring a business meeting venue, a family get together, or a group of friends getting together. It's a fun, interesting concept, but feel it definitely works.
The only negatives I can find are firstly, the toilets. As they are so small, I wouldn't recommend booking the office Christmas party here!
Secondly is the outdoor area. There are huge lawns, and it's incredibly well maintained, however I couldn't stand the motor way noise, and for that reason wouldn't go here on a warm and sunny day.
I give Table Table at Carlisle Border Gate 4 stars, and I'm sure we will be regular customers here.