Something new has arrived at Butlins, Bognor Regis – a restuarant experience like no other I have encountered before.
The Diner only opened a few days ago on 3rd May, 2014 and when my family and I popped along to see what it was like during our break the restuarant had only been running for 3 days! As part of the dining package at Bognor, we were able to have meal vouchers towards the cost of eating at The Diner, which was good news as it is not yet advertised along with the other places you can eat at during your stay. Luckily for me, I happened to ask at the reception of our hotel (The Shoreline) if it was included, and to my delight the answer was ‘yes’.
I have to say that all we were basing our visit on was the menu which we had read outside, and the fact that I assumed that it had been created to replicate a 1950’s American diner, and I have always wanted to eat in one!! It also sold hot dogs (which the boys like) burgers and fries which the OH and I like and ice cream milkshakes!!!
However, as we walked inside I was totally blown away by the decor – it is so visually striking and colourful. It is fun and there is so much to see and to read and to want to touch! So much attention to detail – no wonder it has cost Butlins about £1.2 million to bring to life! As soon as you walk in the decor really hits you and I think it definately has a ‘wow’ factor.
Everything from the slogans on the wall to the tables, seats and booth seats and the juke box has a really authentic 1950’s theme and just made me smile with a real feeling of nostalgia. Obviously, I was not around in the era that The Diner is replicating but having seen films and TV shows where it has been featured, it makes me think of those with fondness. No expense has been spared in making your eating experience in The Diner a really special one. Vinyl records hung on the walls,black and white photography of the entertainers from back in the hey day of the 50’s – images that will birng back memories for some and will be completely alien to the younger generations! Plus of course music from the era playing while you enjoy your food and to occupy you while you wait for it – guaranteed to make you sing along!
The food is very American – pulled pork and chicken, various hot dogs and burgers (meat, poultry and veggie), popcorn chicken, fries, onion rings, slaw, ranch dressing, milk shakes, oreo ice cream sundae, toffee popcorn cheesecake and milkshakes! There are wraps, salads, brioche buns and a great kids menu including fish fingers and cheesy pasta aswell as junior sixed hot dogs and burgers. And the burger baps are branded with a B for Butlins!
However, what sets The Diner apart in my opinion, asides from the visually appealing layout of the room, is the surprise you get from the singing staff! The waiting staff are dressed in 1950’s style clothes with slogans across their tee shirts BUT there are some ladies that are wearing vintage dresses and a young man in matching trousers and shirt who stand out from the rest of the staff, with their clothing.
However, it soon became obvious that it is not just their clothes which make them stand out! Every 15 minutes or so, the juke box (well it may be a CD or iPod player hidden behind the scenes but I will say juke box as I am not sure, and I want it to be so) blasts out a familiar instrumental introduction to a well known song from the fifties and then the ‘house’ lights go down and coloured disco lights come on and the afore mentioned ladies and gent start singing songs!
I can tell you now, we were not expecting that at all! Yet it really works and looking around the room from the young to the old and the older still, everyone sat in The Diner were smiling and singing/tapping their feet to the music. It just felt really special actually and not cheesy or uncomfortable in the slightest.Maybe I just felt like I was in a movie like Back To The Future and therefore felt happy and content to take in all my surroundings and go with the singing flow!
So what did I really think of The Diner?
If I am perfectly honest I did think that their milkshakes, as yummy as they were, are a bit pricey at £3.95 which is only £1 less then a dessert. Plus they do not make them available in a childrens’portion allowing for a smaller and cheaper milkshake which I think they should. And when you consider that an Oreo ice cream sundae costs £1 less again, and you get a huge amount of ice cream, we felt the milkshakes were a little expensive for what they were. There again, maybe we are out of the loop with milkshake prices!! However, I know that we were paying for The Diner experience as part of the price, so it is not a big deal really, and what the heck we were on holiday!
There were also a few teething problems with our order – we did complain once and the burger was returned, but it still did not contain all the elements promised on the menu when it came back to our table. Therefore, we did end up paying the full price, even though we should have challenged it really, because we did not receive the Full Monty Burger plus an extra topping that we ordered, and so we paid for food we did not have! However, as I mentioned The Diner is newly opened and all of its staff is getting used to everything about it, and we felt we would not make an issue of it (we didn’t leave a tip as a result, as we over paid on our bill on out first visit). I also feel there should be something for the kids to do to occupy them like some colouring sheets maybe, which I have seen in other eating establishments on site, as we did have to wait a while for our meals and the boys did moan a bit! However, there is no faulting the food on taste, it is delicious and their flame grilled burgers taste sooooo goood! It was also the only meal Burton ate almost in its entirity during our stay.
I must praise the staff too, all of whom we encountered were wonderful – so friendly and chatty aswell as attentive , and they all stopped to ask the boys if they were having fun and enjoying their meal. We actually visited twice during our stay – for an evening meal and then the following day for a milkshake (and to sit in a booth!), and we were remembered. All the staff who we came into contact with were so genuinely nice and helpful. Can not praise them enough and the service they gave.
You have to try The Diner during your Butlins holiday, even if its just for the experience, although the food is good too and well worth trying! We ended up paying well over the amount that the vouchers we were given were worth, BUT it was such a fun evening and we all really enjoyed our food and the entertainment, so it was great value and an amazing experience. Where else can you go where you are given a bib and some wet wipes when you order ribs that look like this:
It is a shame there is not a restaurant like this where we live, because I fear I would become something of a regular!
I have not been asked by Butlins to write this post – I have done it as part of my Ambassador role and because being newly opened I wanted to blog about it first! We were given some money towards the meal as part of our holiday but we paid the remainder of our bill ourselves.