UPDATE: Will’s Bar has sadly closed, but will be replaced by a shiny new Brewdog bar in 2015!
We sauntered off into town to watch a spot of comedy last night, and beforehand we decided to use a Groupon (this is my referral link – if you buy the Groupon for yourself using this link I’ll get £6 Groupon credit) we had for Will’s Bar in Leicester to get some grub. Newly opened, this is where the old Varsity was. You can see that the renovations have been done with style, it’s a nice looking and welcoming bar, but sadly was very, very quiet when we got there at 6.30pm – just us and another couple.
When we got there, the staff were super SUPER friendly. Really welcoming and genuinely pleased to seat us. We were surprised that we’d had a table reserved for us, since we’d had to book to use the Groupon. And it was really quiet, but it was a Tuesday night I guess.
The voucher cost us £10.95. and for that we got dinner and drinks. I had a glass of wine, which was a nice rioja, that I really enjoyed. It was a great quality red for a house wine. The Boy was not quite so happy – the voucher only included three lagers, all bottles, so there was no ale for him. It seemed a bit strange as you would think that a bottled Hoegaarden would cost more than a pint of Hobgoblin, but there you go. He had a wine as well, and still enjoyed it.
For my main, I ordered the bangers and mash, which came with seasonal vegetables. It took quite a while for our meals to come – about 20 or 25 minutes from the time of placing the order – I’d hate to see how they cope with a lunchtime rush! For some reason, they seem to serve every meal on a wooden board, and my sausages came in a bowl, but I got the meal I wanted, so I can overlook the gastropub pretentions.
It was a pretty good sized portion, and the sausages were a nice quality, with a slightly sweet flavour. There was a nice dollop of mash, which had a creamy aftertaste. The veg was served chunky, al dente and in an additional bowl (probably why it all came on a board).
The gravy was the only let down – medium thick and still with traces of unmixed in granuales! I reckon if I’d paid £9.50 I’d be expecting real gravy. But it was filling and tasty, for the price I paid I was happy.
The Boy had the cottage pie, which sadly was not as good a meal as mine. As you can see, it came on the obligatory board, with a dish of vegetables and a little jug of additional (ready mix) gravy. He said the flavours were OK, but that the cottage pie was really shallow, so you didn’t really get much. It didn’t feel quite like a full meal – either you’d need a lot more mash on top, or it should come with another side of chips or potato to really be satisfying. Sadly, he was hungry again pretty soon after we left!
As with the drinks choices, there were some pretty weird restrictions on the menu choice. You could pick anything up to £9.50, but not the burgers (most of which were £9.50) and not the steak sandwich, which costs £10.50, but you could pay the extra pound to have the £10.50 scampi or fish and chips. The Boy wanted to try the piri piri burger, so perhaps he had taken against the cottage pie from the beginning.
So for the £10.95 we paid, this was a nice glass of wine and an OK meal, with absolutely super service from lovely, bubbly bar staff. I’d definitely come back, but only for drinks. I’m not convinced the menu represents good value when you can get better quality pub nosh for a bit cheaper in many places in Leicester – The Globe and The Orange Tree to name just two alternatives.
I give Will’s Bar a 6 out of 10 Extreme points. They’ve made a promising start and their service is lovely if a little slow. The menu could do with tweaking, but their drinks selection is excellent. Definitely worth popping by and I shall be interested to if the whole thing takes off over the next few months. It’s a great, central location and I’m always happy to award additional points, especially to a local, independent business. One less Varsity bar in the city is no bad thing.