Never has climbing so few steps felt like travelling so far. Climbing the steps to the West Coast Rock Cafe takes mere seconds, and yet it feels like you’ve been transported thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s dimly lit with a grungy student feel. Music plays and TVs show the videos. Dozens of number plates circle the room. There are neon lights, framed NME magazine covers from the early 2000s, and even a wall of photographs bearing beaming smiles of the various celebs who have crossed the threshold of this legendary Blackpool eatery.
All pretensions are left at the door. This isn’t somewhere for a candle-lit romantic dinner. It won’t impress a lover. But yet it doesn’t pretend it would. A sign sums it up perfectly: Our house wine is Jägermeister.
If it wasn’t for the autumn rain tipper-tappering on the windows as we sat and looked at our menus, we could have been sat in a stereotypical American diner sat just off a sun-beaten stretch of Californian highway.
The kids – boys aged three and seven – played in a small play area while we decided on our main courses. I had a chimichanga: a large flour tortilla filled with chilli beef, deep fried and served with rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and (although it wasn’t mentioned on the menu) some tortilla chips (£12.45).
It was well cooked, though there wasn’t quite enough sour cream to numb the spicy kick of the chilli. The portion size was generous, and the only thing I didn’t like was the guacamole, which is a shame because it can be delicious.
The other half had a burrito: a large flour tortilla filled with Cajun chicken and peppers and served with rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and, according to the menu at least, guacamole (£11.95). She said the chicken and the sauce were quite sweet – more akin to Spanish chicken than Cajun, but she really enjoyed her meal regardless. Her dish didn’t come with guacamole as advertised, though she would have left it anyway.
The boys both had a mix ‘n’ match, which allows youngsters to choose three items from a set menu for £3.95. The youngest had sausages, chicken goujons, and baked beans, while the oldest had cheese and tomato pizza, sausages, and chips.
They both enjoyed their sausages, which were of a really high quality, as were the chicken goujons. The pizza was disappointing because the sauce had chunks of tomato in it, which was off-putting for the lad.
As a side, we ordered the garlic bread with melted cheese (£4.15), which was a quartered ciabatta so haphazardly topped two quarters were too dry.
For dessert, I had the chocolate Dime bar cake (£4.75), which was a slice of toffee crunch pie with Dime bar pieces, served with ice cream. It was delicious and very well presented. The other half had the New York baked vanilla cheesecake (also £4.75), which was served with a Baileys ice cream and very quickly devoured.
The lads both had a ‘Baby Dino create your own pudding’ (£3 each). They got ice cream, chunky chocolate brownie pieces, giant marshmallows and a pot of chocolate sauce. One of them didn’t like the marshmallows, but they got such a pile of goodies we had to ask for it to be boxed up so we could take it away with us.
The service was great. We were never left waiting for too long, nor were we constantly interrupted.
Our final bill after drinks (a pint of bitter, a pint of pop, a J20, and an off-brand Fruitshoot) came to £61.60 – or £51.60 by the time we used a voucher that plopped through our letterbox recently. That’s good value.
The West Coast Rock Cafe isn’t somewhere to go to watch the calories. It’s not somewhere to go to wine and dine. But it’s somewhere to go and enjoy some tasty grub with some decent music and in comfortable surroundings while your young ‘uns enjoy themselves in the play area. It’s been open for 32 years now, and I hope it’s here for many more yet.