“ZAPATO? Is that going to be spicy food?, asks grumpy daughter, dragged into town to get presents for a sibling.
Clearly she’s not fluent in Spanish. Zapato means shoe, and the ‘Shoe Lounge’ is a nod to the town’s industrial heritage and one of a few new ‘lounges,’ including the Castello Lounge in Wellingborough, Paletto Lounge in Corby and the Kino Lounge in Kettering.
If you don’t go into town much you’re missing a treat here. Tucked away in the corner of Northampton’s Market Square, Zapato Lounge is a Tardis of a place, in one of Northampton’s oldest buildings, the Welsh House. It’s decorated inside with a mishmash of paintings (there must be a factory somewhere pumping out impersonal portraits), wooden chairs and fabric lampshades.
Like the decor, the food choices are diverse. There’s a brunch menu served all day, breakfast, burgers, tapas and sandwiches, plus gluten-free and Vegan menus. The children’s menu is a fiver a dish or six for bigger kids – but you do get breadsticks and crudities to keep them occupied, along with colouring paper and pens. Apparently dogs are welcome too!
It was a relatively busy lunchtime when we – two adults and two kids – visited. You have to order at the bar, which I’m never terribly fond of, especially as it’s a big old place with two floors and according to the blurb, has 173 covers inside, and 34 outside. However, we found a table easily enough and ordered a Pulled Pork Panini (£5.95) with slow-cooked pulled pork, cola-barbecue sauce, roasted red onion, Roquito peppers and mature cheddar; a grilled Halloumi & Falafel Salad (£8.95) with butternut squash, peppers, black quinoa, mixed leaves, coriander and balsamic & honey dressing; a 6oz Lounge Burger (£8.95+£1.60 with extra bacon and an egg); plus some Buttermilk Chicken Lollipops with baked beans and chips (£5.95) from the kids’ menu. We had a side of salt and pepper squid (with bread) for £3.75, which was delicious.
We had quite a long wait for the food: about half an hour, and I think they just needed more staff, because the aforementioned bar ordering system means a queue formed, and once people have had to wait once they don’t want to do so again.
The panini came with chips (in the now ubiquitous metal cup) and a pile of homemade coleslaw. Although teen wasn’t impressed by the sauce, he still somehow managed to devour most of it along with a massive milkshake. Grumpy daughter had forgotten about being grumpy once inside and loved her chicken-on-sticks meal. The burger was pretty innocuous on its own but the added bacon and egg did the trick – although the person who decided that EVERY burger in the UK now has to be in a disgusting sweet brioche bun should be forced to eat them with every meal – dry – forever.
The salad was huge – lots of spinach and a couple of big slices of cheese and three falafel. It was substantial enough not to feel, y’know, salady. The falafel were a bit solid – I prefer them softer. I’d probably choose something else next time, and there will be a next time, because it was really nice place, with an easy-going atmosphere, a varied menu and lots to look at while you wait.