[REVIEW] Not So Sure About The Top Spot at Halfway House – Donisthorpe

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Halfway House

If you remember a couple of reviews ago, the Halfway House was somewhere that I had tried to visit. Back before I did any research on the place, I went on a Sunday and assumed that it would be serving food.

However this was not the case and I ended up going to Turpins which was a bit of a disappointment.

I found that they served food from Tuesday to Saturday 12pm to 2pm and 6pm to 9pm.

With my ability to going to restaurant when they served food much improved, I headed down to the Halfway House to eat.

The one thing that was going around in my mind before, during and after eating that the Halfway House is that it is number 1 on Trip Advisor in the lovely place of Swadlincote that I live in.

Number 1.

That is a high mantle to hold to. And I’m not too sure how they managed to sit at the top.

At about 6 o clock there were quite a handful of people already sinking down a drink after work. Being a responsible kind of guy I settled for a tap water to help wash my food down.

I asked the person serving me behind the bar if they were doing food, just to be doubley sure. He gave me the nod.

I was told that there were two places to eat. In the lounge or the restaurant section. I asked him which was the coziness and he pointed me to the lounge.

On my walk to the lounge, with my menu in hand, I passed the restaurant. It looked super serious in there. Nicely decorated. It felt like you had entered another building completely. You could easily forget that you were in fact sitting in a pub.

The lounge that I had chose to dine in was your typical pub environment with the vintage carpet being one of the highlights.

I was totally dining alone in here. This saved all the other diners from hearing the pitter patter of my keyboard as I type my notes up.


It was time to choose what to eat. The menu at the Halfway House is really good. They have a large selection of food. Maybe the biggest I have seen at any pub.

They have even put together a selection of starters and mains just for vegetarians which I think is a wonderful thing to do.

The starter was a relatively easy pick. I didn’t feel like the garlic mushrooms or any of the other type of mushrooms that you could have had. I like mushrooms. Don’t get me wrong. But mushrooms are a standard starter in pretty much any pub I go to. And I just get tirelessly bored of them.



The home made fish cakes are the babies that I went for. On the menu I was a getting a twix of fishcake. I abandon the thought that I was getting some sort of chocolate hybrid fishcake and that this was a word to describe the numerlic value of the fishcakes that I was having.

Two would have done just fine. Guess they just like twix’s.

I felt like I was spoiled for choice for my main. My eyes were drawn to the “From The Grill” section which had some tasty sounding dishes. The cantonese steak was what I nearly went for.

Seeing as I had steak when I went to Montanaro’s I decided on the Chicken Sorrento.


My starter arrived fairly quickly. As I was on my own in the lounge I thought that I was going to be lost and forgotten, slowly becoming part of the furnishing of the pub.

Thankfully the waiter that was serving me was on the ball and managed to be attentive even though he was managing two rooms.

No need for plates here at the Halfway House. My starter was served on a wooden board. On there was my twix of fishcakes with a slice of lemon.

A side salad came along as well, with its own dressing.

I know right. Its own dressing!

I think there must be a trend going on as usually side salads just come with nothing on them at all. But the last couple of places have been jazzing it up. They must have been keeping up with my earlier reviews and all the love that I give the side salad when it comes with dressing.

Even though the side salad was upgraded from rabbit food with the addition of the dressing, I only had a nibble.


Fishcakes - Halfway House


The main reason for that was the fishcakes. They were huge. And I had a twix of them!

I honestly would have settled for one but I had two of the bad boys to get through. Goodbye room for my main.

The fishcakes themselves were really tasty. The outer crust was light and crispy. Very fresh. The innards definitely tasted homemade. A good blend of herb and fish to make even the Captain jealous.

You had the option of house tartare or sweet chilli sauce when ordering the fishcakes. I was never asked what my choice was but as I suspected the tartare sauce came alongside my twix.

I have tried a fair few tartare sauce in my life and to me this one did not taste homemade. I am not sure if the house tartare is supposed to mean that it is homemade or what but it the tasted mass produced.

It was nothing like the homemade tartare sauce that I got with my fish and chips when I visited The Fish And The Chip in Leicester.

This was only a little oversight for me as it was ok to eat alongside my scrumptious fishcakes.

So far I could see how they had got to number one spot on trip advisor. But it was my main that let itself down.


Again I was not forgotten by my waiter, being as attentive as before. My main was out with me in barely no time at all.

This when I started to be a little disappointed. So alongside the chicken and the sauce I got a portion of peas and chips.

The peas that arrived were halfway to becoming mushy peas. I am not sure if it was because they had been overcooked or they had been sitting, waiting, but they were like mush when you bit into them.

I like all of my veg to be introduced to their cooking method only briefly, keeping their freshness and the crunch you get from them being partially cooked. You want enough to give them a little scaring, not being tortured until they have no life left in them.

This might be how the chef wanted them cooked but a few fork fulls and I was done.

The chips were another thing that let the meal down. For me, chips should be cooked like how I had them at The Crossing in Burton.

Best chips going. They have some chronic secret recipe there. I am so going to befriend the chef just so I can find the recipe out.


Chicken Sorrento - Halfway House


The chips that I got served with my meal were on the other spectrum from the peas. They looked and tasted like they had not had enough fire on them, like the pigment of someones skin who had not seen the sun for several years.

And there was no crisp on them at all.

In previous reviews I have mentioned my love for chips and how easy restaurants can do them wrong. This is one of those occasions where they had just done it wrong.

Definitely not a number one spot thing to do.

With the hate aside I can move on to the good bit of the meal.

The chicken and the sauce.

The chicken was nicely cooked. No pinkness and not dry at all.

The sauce was a thing of beauty. Cooked with brandy and white wine, it had been cooked just enough to get rid of the bite of the alcohol but leave it to hold together the rest of the components of the sauce, giving it a creamy richness.

Mixed in with the sauce was ham, prawns and mushrooms all nicely done. The ham was of a good cut, nicely and thick, full of flavour.

Unfortunately the chicken and the sauce couldn’t save the dish from the other parts of it. Number one. Not on my watch. In the top 10. Yeah I could see it. Needs some more work in my eyes though.

Montanaro’s, that top spot is for you.

Epic Toilet Review

The toilets in the Halfway House looked to have some work carried out to them. As you entered the males toilets you are greeted by a archway, all tiled.



The colour theme was all masculine, slate colour everywhere. Whoever was the interior designer had a good eye and the toilets were one of the best that I have seen.

Very clean and they had made the most of the space that they had.


Trip Advisor

Halfway House holds the number one spot on Trip Advisor. From the experience that I have had I do not agree with this at all. Maybe if I had chosen another dish then my opinion might have changed.

Due to them being so highly ranked there are very little negative reviews. As I write this the last negative review that the Halfway House got was back in Nov 2016.

The customer was complaining about the lack of service and no one seeing to them. I had no problem with this myself as the members of staff were super helpful and friendly.

Not many people had complaints with their food so I think that it must have been an off day for the chef or a lack of attention on my dish.


Overall, the service that I got at the Halfway House was very good. The starter that I had may be one of the best to date had but the main let its self down. From my experience I do not think it is worthy of the top spot in Swadlincote compared with the other restaurants that I have reviewed.

If you are looking for above average pub food experience you’ve got that here. Anything else, ask me for other recommendations.




Service – 7

Food – 6.5

Value – 7

Overall – 68%

Telephone number – 01530 588783





Craig is very passionate about all things food. He has to keep highly active to prevent himself from all the food making a difference to his waist line. With his love for writing and sharing places for people to eat, Craig Eats Food was born to combine all of these elements. Craig would love to hear what your thoughts either via the comments or on social media.

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