with original features, high industrial ceilings and eclectic prints scattered around the walls, the cosy club serves up a modern menu in contemporary environment. a former knitwear factory dating back to the 1800s, the leicester city centre bar and restaurant has brought a quirky yet accessible approach to passionate pub grub, sharing platters, cocktails and mocktails.
Having walked down this street in Leicester many times on the way to the Highcross, the first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the place. Then again, it has only recently been renovated and i can't see i would have noticed a knitwear factory before now. The cosy club chain have worked really hard to keep the characteristics of the place intact, with old knitwear patterns and machinery sketches as a nod to its origins. There are also hundreds of prints covering the walls; from regal portraits to anatomical illustrations. Kudos to whoever managed to get all those photo frames straight.
The branding touches are great too. I was easily pleased by the mismatched typography on the menus, cc entwined on the floral napkins, assorted colourful chairs and an abundance of retro lampshades. It was pretty busy for a Sunday night, with tables filling up at the bar, scattered seating and restaurant alike. I'd actually tried to get in on the Saturday but they were fully booked, which i guess is a good sign as it opened back in October.
Whilst we waited for our starters, we opted for a couple of mocktails. I chose the freshly squeezed cool lemonade (£2.60) whilst sam chose the fresh sherbert lemonade (£2.60), and wasn't surprised to see the offbeat presentation of the glasses. The addition of cucumber made it super refreshing, although i definitely would have struggled to finish the sour sherbert concoction.
To begin we shared a tapas platter, which was £11.50 for 3 dishes or £3.95. With gluten free and vegetarian options, i was pleased to see the meat free plates still held the £3.95 worth. We went for mini cumberland sausages with a sticky honey, wholegrain mustard and cider sauce, honey glazed shredded five-spice pork and pan fried halloumi, carrot and chick peas with a sweet and sour chilli dip. The platter came with some warm ciabatta too, which seemed odd at presentation but actually was a dream for mopping up the juices and sauces from each plate.
We loved all three of the plates and there wasn't too much fighting, as they were all so delicious in their own way. Having said that, you need to try the fragrant, sweet and melt-in-the-mouth pulled pork if you go, we cleaned that bowl right up.
It wasn't long before our friendly server whisked out our mains. The cosy club menu featured more adventurous dishes than i expected, such as pan fried hake, pork belly and kedgeree. I had heard mixed opinions so as you can imagine was eager to try something different for myself. No fear, there are also some classic burgers, shepherd's pie and fish & chips.
I'd gone for the slow roasted cherry orchard free range pork belly (£11.95) and sam the hero hamburger (£9.25). I should mention that my boyfriend asked about the burger before ordering, and as the waiter knew they were running low he ensured that one was put aside straight away before other big table orders were taken. This is without him knowing i was a blogger or reviewing the restaurant at all, so we were both really pleased with the knowledge and thoughtfulness of staff.
The pork belly dish came with a mint, pea and ham hock fritter, wholegrain mustard mash, curly kale and apple gravy, with an extremely reasonable portion for just shy of £12. It was a given that i'd love the creamy mustard mash, but i was dubious about apple in the gravy and i sometimes find kale a tad bitter. Instead the smooth gravy was increasingly moreish and the kale had a buttery crunch.
The pork belly itself was delicious and soft once you battled with the crunchy topping, although i'm afraid the pork scratching was too crunchy to tackle without sending my plate flying. I think the diners would definitely benefit from a steak knife for this dish. The star of the show was the inviting ham and pea fritter which added another delicious porky element to my plate. (as if hadn't eaten enough with the starter!)
Sam's 6oz hero hamburger was a medley of mature cheddar, fried red onions, chimichurri, chipotle mayo and marinated chilli with skin-on fries. He found the flavours pleasing and loved the spicy elements, spongy bun, crunchy chips and a zingy salad. On the other hand, the name hero had conjured up (greedy) images in his head of it being a gigantic, stacked up burger, but the 6oz didn't seem much bigger than a 4oz quarter pounder and he vowed next time he'd double up. Totally backtracking, the portions left us too full for puds.
We were both genuinely impressed by the atmosphere, decor, friendliness and effortless cool of the place. You could easily see yourself in there for a drink after work, date night, out for a birthday or welcomed with a family and children. We will definitely be returning to try out the breakfasts, as well as a few of the stronger drink offerings.
I'm absolutely loving all the growing places in leicester lately, making it an even better place to drink and dine out. Variety is the spice of life though, why not take a mini tour between queen of bradgate, cosy club and orange tree, which are all within a couple of minutes walking distance of each other. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, tea, dessert, drinks... Sorted.
62-68 highcross street
Note: i was invited for a complimentary meal to review their menu, although the staff did not know i was there to review. all opinions are honest and my own.