Review: The Lamplighter, 66 Overstone Road, Northampton, NN1 3JS
Penda’s small dining companion is trying to eat with her hands again. She’s gnawing on a chunk of crackling and wiggling as she does so.
“I’m trying to get this wobbly baby tooth out,” she explains, before being ordered to eat the rest of her Sunday roast with cutlery, and with tooth still intact. The crackling, incidentally, was delicious – and crunchy, not tooth-dislodgingly solid.
There are lots of pubs across the county offering a traditional roast, but somehow Penda always remembers to book too late. And booking is essential if you don’t want to spend time in the bar beforehand.
We got lucky with The Lamplighter, but not for lunch, more of a ‘linner’, a lunch and dinner combo, at 4pm.
The Lamplighter is a backstreet pub dating back to the 1880s, and was formerly known as the Overstone Arms. It served the shoe factories and associated two-up, two-downs that surround it, now long gone or derelict.
As The Lamplighter, it’s seen Northampton’s more recent social history, losing and gaining trade with the arrival and removal of the nearby, once bustling, Chronicle building. But as other pubs in the town faced difficult times with a changes in drinking culture, The Lamplighter adapted again, focusing on good food, beer and regular live music that has attracted a diverse age range in its regulars.
The menu knows what works – a good range of seasonal choices, daily specials with roasts and pies alongside a decent range for vegetarians too.
It was packed on our Sunday, with most of the tables in the main bar full of diners and another 50 covers upstairs. We were seated quickly, drinks were delivered without a wait, and our food order was in the kitchen with speedy efficiency.
You can chose smaller portions for smaller appetites, and our wobbly-toothed companion had a half roast pork dinner (£5.95) that was hardly much smaller than the full sized beef version(£12.95). The third of our group had a steak and ale pie (£11.95), and all the meals arrived with a Yorkshire pud, veg and gravy.
We’d ordered an extra side of cauliflower cheese, which actually tasted of cheese and was well-cooked, not soggy (£3.50). We didn’t need it as the mains came with perfectly-cooked broccoli, kale, carrots and peas.
A request for extra gravy was met cheerfully. The food was really very good, and puds were ordered: a sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and icecream, a huge brownie and icecream, and a slice of cake with strawberries, blueberries and white chocolate. The latter was the only dud: it was, as Prue Leith might say, rather more dense than sponge should be. Still ate it though.
Our afternoon linner was a hugely enjoyable, in the pleasant setting of a decent pub, with its old wood and exposed bricks, without being anyway fusty or false.
The total bill, with a few soft drinks, a G&T and a coffee, was £66. We were so stuffed we spent the rest of the day slobbed out in front of the TV, as Sundays should be. With all teeth hopefully still intact.