We tried breakfast at the original Lincolnshire restaurant where your table is a car

My first motor was a Fiat 500, but I never imagined that one day I would be sitting down having breakfast in a quirky car-themed restaurant. Here at V-ATE it’s a car fanatic’s dream – and even if you’re not into vehicles it’s still a pretty cool pit stop just a ten minute diversion, if this is the case of the A52 road Skegness to Nottingham.

We had left the seaside town without breakfast and a much needed break from the journey after driving at a frustrating snail’s pace behind all those farm vehicles on the way to Boston. Situated just off the A17 Sutterton roundabout, the site is also home to McDonald’s, where you know exactly what you are getting, how much it will cost and what it will look like before you walk through the door.

V-ATE holds more mystery. From the outside, the restaurant looks quite ordinary, like a big warehouse. As we pull up, a sign reads, “We are an independent family business. Please don’t make it difficult for us by eating your McDonald’s in our customer parking lots. Thank you so much, the outsider xxx.”

Who doesn’t like cheering on the underdog – especially the one with kisses? As big proponents of all things family run as opposed to multinational corporations, we bypassed the Golden Arches to try something different. The interior of the V-ATE couldn’t be more different from the gray interior. It’s colorful and eye-catching, with a Jeep Wrangler at the entrance – I think. Please know that I am not an automotive expert, so some of my car descriptions like “the rose” are flaky.

There’s plenty of room (or should it be vroom?) with all the tables made from classic cars, including Mini Coopers, a Mustang, a few sporty little numbers and a rose that looks like the Rolls Royce from Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds. A Chevy truck table seats 12 but since there are only two of us we opt for something smaller. I’m instantly drawn to an Italian Fiat 500, which is much shinier than the old rust bucket I was driving and much cuter with eyes for the headlights.

The unique decor at V-ATE

The main menu is burgers, fried chicken, loaded fries, desserts and frozen shakes, but our arrival just after 11 meant we were still in time for the breakfast menu. After two days of eating fries, donuts and other seaside treats, you can’t stomach a full English.

The breakfast rolls are topped with various combinations of eggs, bacon, sausage and mushrooms for the vegan. The aptly named Juggernaut has it all. At the counter, we order tea and sausages, eggs and cheese rolls. Within minutes, two steaming cups of tea are brought to the table. They couldn’t be bigger or hotter.

While we wait for the food, we stare at the oversized family photos on the wall, showing a long history of their passion for cars, and you can’t help but feel that this whole endeavor is a labor of love. So much effort has gone into creating a family dining venue that stands out from the crowd.

Sausage, egg and cheese roll with a big cup of tea at V-ATE
Sausage, egg and cheese roll with a big cup of tea at V-ATE

Soon, two plates of food are heading our way. V-ATE branded the top of the soft brioche bun to give it a more personal touch. Inside is a sizable and succulent peppery sausage patty topped with a fried egg and melted cheese.

Although the components are the same as a Maccy’s Sausage and Egg McMuffin, that’s where the similarity ends. Priced at £4.55, it’s bigger, fresher and tastier and won’t leave your lips caked in grease.

We also ordered a portion of tater tots for £1 more, not really knowing what they are. I was expecting miniature roast potatoes, but they are more like mini hash browns, only crispier and lighter, like eating a warm, fluffy cloud. They are very greedy.

Sometimes style trumps substance at themed restaurants and cafes, but the food is great in equal measure. With the last tater tot consumed, we are fully fueled and ready to hit the road again. Sometimes it’s not just the food, it’s the experience and for that, V-ATE comes in pole position with its decor and friendly, efficient service. It certainly brightens up a long trip.

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