We try breakfast at the quirkiest restaurant on the way to Skegness
It’s early, you’ve put all the luggage and the children in the car and are off to Skegness for the Easter holidays. But in all the excitement you may not have had breakfast and before you reach the resort the belly rumbles are so loud they almost drown out the repeated cries of “are we there almost?”
If you’re looking for a pit stop to refuel (we take food, not gas), there’s no shortage of cafes en route, but we can guarantee there’s nowhere so much fun than V-ATE, just a ten minute diversion, if that, on the A52 Nottingham to Skegness road.
Just before Boston and that twisty last leg of the journey with its winding roads and snail-paced farm vehicles, the car-themed restaurant is located just off the A17 Sutterton roundabout. The site is also home to McDonald’s, where you know exactly what you’re getting, how much it’ll cost, and what it’ll look like before you walk through the door.
Read more: Plans submitted for another Hooter’s restaurant
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 Chevrolet 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 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.
We skip a full English – you have to leave room for all those seaside treats – and take a look at the breakfast rolls that come with toppings of various combinations of eggs, bacon, sausage and of 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 look 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.
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 it’s style over 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.