REVIEW: Eat like a lord at Northampton's quirky parkside Medieval Fort
There's not much from the Medieval times anyone could want to see around today. The Black Death. Revolting peasants. Codpieces.
But lordly feasting was a good takeaway. And now there is a little place in Northampton where you can get stuffed on a whole shank of mutton off the bone, Henry II style.
From the same team as Wellingborough Road's Chilli Village comes Medieval Fort, bordering the Racecourse on Kettering Road. Spot it by the four suits of armour on the roof.
Patrons of Chilli Village will recognise the owners' panache for decorating every square inch of their restaurants with... stuff. Step into the Fort and be met by a strange stuffed mannequin of a Middle Ages peasant. Then take in the muskets, bayonets, antlers, potted plants and drape curtains adorning every wall. It's unique. Hardly Medieval though. There's also a grand piano poised on a stage at the end of the room, but no one was playing on my visit.
Medieval Fort does rich, meaty food and it does it big. The menu is fit for a lord's table. Check out the 20oz pork tomahawk steak, the t-bones, the whole bass. Our waiter warned the goulash soup, served in hollowed out bread, leaves diners unable to tackle their main course.
This reviewer went for the lamb shank, and did I ever get one. A thick cut joint of mutton not out of place from a Renaissance-era jousting tournament. Came with buttery carrots, green beans and the best mash I've ever tasted, slathered in good gravy. I ate every bite - indulging a long-held dream of eating off a bone clenched in one hand like Robert Baratheon - and struggled to walk home. Utterly stuffed.
My partner had the salmon, which she had a great time with, even if the celery and broccoli were a weird side dish. But by the end she admitted she wished she had had mine, or gone for the duck confit. If you take a night at the Fort do not go half-measures - take the opportunity and indulge in something thick, fatty and meaty.
If anything works against Medieval Fort, it's the location. A restaurant overlooking the Racecourse sounds like a good USP (and it is - there's a great summery view from the balcony). But no one knows it's even there. On the night we visited - 9pm on a Saturday - we were the only table taken.
Plus, it's paired with a car park that is full night and day. After 7pm, every space is taken by residents and sports teams. Walk or take a taxi. Also, try and avoid the last Friday of the month - the Umbrella Fair on the bottom floor hold parties and if they break out their sound system it will make your wine glass jump off the table.
But take a chance on this utterly different independent restaurant. I couldn't fault the charming staff for their friendliness and it's a great place to get... well, really really full. It is pricey, though. Most mains start at £20. Take it in stride and eat like royalty at this quirky parkside castle.