Muddy Lounges in the Castello and Kino
Something’s happened in the towns of Market Harborough, Kettering, Peterborough and Wellingborough; a kind of shabby, chic lounging experience, only enhanced by a spicy Bloody Mary and a ridiculously delish brioche burger (AND a dicky bird tells me it’s coming to Corby soon, so you’ll never be wanting for a decent Bloody Mary again). Now the reason I’m so excited is not necessarily the fact you can get a decent cocktail (which you can). Or indeed the fluffy bunned brioche burger; after all we live in a county where you can definitely get both of those things, sometimes, even in the same place. No, what’s so exciting, is you can get both of these things in a child-friendly abode. A place where kids can frolick, cause havoc or stare blankly at their iPhones while you’re not suffered the indignity of being served rubbery chicken nuggets and anaemic chips. OMG! Happy, doesn’t cover the gambit of emotions I now feel to be able to frequent a cool, grown up bar, without having to leave my kids in the car eating a packet of cheese & onion crisps (joke! This isn’t the ’70s you know ; )
When the Kino Lounge first landed in Kettering, Mr Muddy and I practically moved in. Grabbing a great brunch in London is all par for the course, but this cosmopolitan tradition is only recently finding it’s feet up here in the Midlands, and Hallelujah for it I say, a lovely soft landing after a Saturday night of shenanigans (occasionally). They’re mostly located on the high street, but there is nothing remotely ‘samey’ or ‘chainy’ about them – despite the fact that it’s part of a growing chain in the Midlands. The Kino Lounge building in Kettering has always been impressive with a colourful and varied past (public hall, a library, a billiard hall, a theatre and a cinema). Back in 1909 the building showed the first moving picture in Kettering (hence the name Kino), and in tribute to this Kino proudly bears an original commemorative plaque from the British Film Institute! Inside it mixes a slightly rustic look along with the majestic feel of the building; and the view from the mezzanine (below) is pretty awesome. The interiors are comfortable, inviting and a bit eccentric (just like us) with a strong use of reclaimed and antique furniture and fittings. The photos on the wall are retro, cool and make a great backdrop for selfies.
Building wise, there was a bit more of a concern over the Castello Lounge in Wellingborough. Until recently it was the town centre McDonalds, housed in a non-descript ’60s/70s style building, and although we were over the moon when we heard a Lounges was coming to town, there was apprehension about how it would look. But we need not have feared, because those Lounges people did a great job, and since it opened a few weeks ago, we often struggle to get a seat immediately. I don’t know where all these people have come from, but there suddenly seems a new set out in Wellingborough, and that in itself is a great achievement.
The staff at both Kino and Castello really are very friendly and keen to help (I’m on first name terms with a few). For some reason, both places have a queuing system like at a shop or bank, rather than a bar, I’m not sure why this is but with that, and no table service, it does mean sometimes there’s a few minute wait. The Lounge menu is available all-day (which is great, if like me you like a late brekkie at the wknd) and offers a wide range of dishes including a selection of proper-job burgers, a great range of tapas & more restaurant-in-style specials. It can get a bit samey if you go as much as I’ve been, but there really is enough choice to suit everybody, even the most picky of eaters and there’s a gluten free menu, vegan menu and for little Loungers there’s the kid’s menu. I had a great chilli and burger at Kino Lounge (separate occasions), washed down with a scrummy Old Fashioned, and the manager and staff made us feel so welcome they almost had to chuck us out (which incidentally was repeated at the opening of The Castello Lounge, oops)!
Another reason I have been using the lounges a lot, is the fact that DOGS ARE ALLOWED (be still my beating heart)! I’m a relatively new dog owner, she’s 11 months old, but nothing prepared me for the amount of places dogs aren’t allowed. At the Lounges dogs aren’t just tolerated, they’re embraced. Doggy bowls, doggy treats, doggy kisses. Muddy paws practically pulls me off my feet to get in there she is so keen to see her bar friends (hmmmmm, really it’s her fault I end up with another mojito ; )
There are newspapers, games for adults and kids, and there’s also loads of room to steer your buggy/wheelchair. There is free Wi-Fi, high chairs and a free neighbourhood book swap facility where customers can bring in an old book and swap it for one in their bookcase. They’re open all day every day, and because they’re touted as a cafe/bar they appeal to families, friends and quite a few first daters (I happen to know there has been a couple of Match.com hook ups there)! The music is really diverse as people have the have the ability to choose their own track with Secret DJ; just download the app and you can control the action!
For the mad tea lady (me) there is an extensive selection of coffee and loose-leaf teas, cakes & pastries, freshly squeezed juice and a good selection of wines, draught beers and cocktails. And no matter how busy it gets, it never feels overly rammed. Yes, it’s a chain, but it doesn’t really feel like it, and besides, all of the plus points above mean you’d be crackers not to at least give it a try. And if you see a slightly harassed woman there with big black dog and a laptop, come and say hello and she’ll talk you through the cocktail menu!
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Those looking for a buzzy atmosphere any time of the day. It offers a great environment to work, chat with friend, meet for a date – you name it. There’s a gluten free and vegan menu, and loads of space for unwieldy buggies or wheelchairs; and dogs are allowed downstairs.
Not for: People who want table service or who don’t want music; and anyone who prefers a revolving menu. It has a very diverse clientele so you’d be hard pressed to pin down who will be there at any one time, but I’ve seen nine month olds to 90 year olds
££: Middle of the road affordable. Lounge burger £8.95 and around that for most mains. Wine around £4 a glass and cocktails around £7.