FOOD MONSTER: Tower Bar at the Engine Shed in Lincoln
This is a good time for the pubs and restaurant trade in Lincoln.
New ventures are popping up every month.
Lincolnshire Red and the Strait and Narrow opened to great acclaim just in time to capitalise on the lucrative pre-Christmas trade.
And Carluccio's in High Street will open its doors next month, just a few hundred yards down from Ribs'n'Bibs.
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But where do you go for a night of good, honest grub and some beers to accompany the Champions' League football.
This was my dilemma on Tuesday as Manchester United prepared to host Real Madrid.
Let's be honest – Lincoln city centre is not blessed with great places to go and watch sport on the big screen.
But there is one gem that you may not realise is as welcoming to us old grumpies as it is to the trendy young students.
The Tower Bar at the Engine Shed, on the University of Lincoln's Brayford campus, is becoming increasingly popular with locals.
Contact details and location map for the Tower Bar at the Engine Shed in Lincoln...
All big sporting fixtures are shown on their half-dozen screens, which are nicely spread out to ensure you're not all cramped up.
When I've taken friends there for the first time, they always remark on how posh it seems for a Student Union.
But it's not the SU, it's open to everybody.
A few weeks ago it was packed at 2am for the Superbowl, and it was just as busy for Tuesday's big game.
With the drinks flowing (£7 for a four pint jug of Carlsberg), it was time to tuck in.
The menu is simple, including burgers, baguettes, a healthy helping of main courses, sharing platters and desserts… all at good prices.
It's never going to be high-end dining – but you get what you pay for.
I went for the club sandwich with curly fries. The toasted sandwich was packed with chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo. And if you've never had their curly fries, you're missing out. Go and have some. Now…
My friend went for the steak baguette. It must have been good as it stopped him talking. The steak was well-cooked but tender and lean, complemented with perfectly-caramelised red onions and more of the piping hot curly fries.
And a second friend went for what is turning into a house speciality – the home-made pizzas.
Freshly made in their own pizza oven, they are fast-becoming a reason to go to the Tower Bar, never mind the football.
The toppings are plentiful and tasty, our 12-inch meat feast easily filling my friend before being mopped up by the rest of us.
Cost-wise, you're laughing, really. Three of us had a drink and food for less than a tenner each. Students fare even better, with their 20 per cent discount.
Add in the fact the service is fast and friendly, and the place is clean and well-maintained, and you have the ideal venue and atmosphere to go and watch the sport - even if the referee spoils the match with his bizarre decisions!
You're never going to take the family there for a Sunday roast, but it's easy to see why the Tower Bar is always so popular.
However, nobody has yet been able to explain to me the one problem with the Tower Bar– why on earth the students insist on queuing single file like they're in the local bank. Odd isn't the word...
THE FOOD: Club sandwich with curly fries (£7.25); 12-inch meat feast pizza (£8); steak baguette with curly fries (£7.25); two pints of Carling (£4.60); Pinot Grigio with soda (£2.60).
TOTAL: £29.70 for three people
FINAL VERDICT: Great value for money. Good honest food at a good price
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