We tried breakfast at the quirky diner where your table is a car
My first motor was a Fiat 500 but I never imagined that one day I’d be sitting eating my breakfast at one in a quirky car-themed diner. Here at V-ATE it’s a car fanatic’s dream – and even if you’re not that into vehicles, it’s still a pretty cool pit-stop just a ten-minute diversion, if that, off the A52 Skegness to Nottingham route. We’d left the seaside town without breakfast and a break in the journey is much needed after driving at a frustratingly slow snail’s pace behind all those farm vehicles on the way to Boston.
Located just off the A17 Sutterton roundabout, the site is also home to McDonald’s, where you know exactly what you’re getting, how much it will cost and what it will be like before you step through the door. V-ATE holds more mystery. From the outside the diner looks quite ordinary, like a big warehouse.
As we pull up there’s a sign which reads: “We are an independent family business. Please don’t make it even harder for us to survive by eating your McDonald’s in our customer parking bays. Many thanks, the underdog xxx.”
Who doesn’t like to root for the underdog – especially one with kisses? As big supporters of anything family-run as opposed to multinational corporations, we bypassed the Golden Arches to try something different. Inside V-ATE couldn’t be more different from the grey interior.
It’s colourful and eye-catching, with a Jeep Wrangler by the entrance – I think. Please be aware I’m no motoring expert so some of my car descriptions like ‘the pink one’ are flaky. There’s plenty of room (or should that be vroom?) with all the tables crafted out of classic cars, including Mini Coopers, a Mustang, a few sporty little numbers and a pink one that looks like Lady Penelope’s Rolls Royce in Thunderbirds.
A Chevrolet truck table has seating for 12 but seeing as there’s just the two of us, we opt for something smaller. I’m instantly drawn to one with an Italian Fiat 500, which is far shinier than the old rust bucket I used to drive and much cuter with eyes for headlamps.
The unique decor at V-ATE
The main menu is all about burgers, fried chicken, loaded fries, desserts and ice cream shakes but our arrival just after 11am means we’re still in time for the breakfast menu. After two days of eating chips, doughnuts and other seaside treats, we can’t stomach a full English.
The breakfast rolls come with fillings of various combinations of egg, bacon, sausage and mushroom for the vegan one. The appropriately entitled Juggernaut has everything. Up at the counter we order tea and sausage, egg and cheese rolls.
Within a couple of minutes two steaming mugs of tea are brought to the table. They couldn’t be bigger or hotter. While we wait for the food we check out the supersized family photos on the wall, showing a long history of their passion for cars and you can’t help but feel that this whole enterprise is a labour of love.
So much effort has gone into creating a family-friendly place to eat that stands out from the crowd.
Sausage, egg and cheese roll with a big mug of tea at V-ATE
Before long, two plates of food are heading our way. V-ATE has stamped its branding onto the top of the soft brioche bun to give it a more personal touch. Inside is a sizeable and succulent peppery sausage patty topped with a fried egg and melted cheese.
Although the components are the same as a sausage and egg McMuffin from Maccy’s, that’s where the similarity stops. Priced GBP4.55, this is bigger, fresher and tastier and doesn’t leave your lips coated in grease. We ordered a portion of tater tots too for an extra GBP1, not really knowing what they are.
I was anticipating miniature roast potatoes but they’re more like mini hash browns, only crispier and lighter, like eating a hot fluffy cloud. They’re very moreish. Sometimes it’s style over substance in themed restaurants and cafes but the food is excellent in equal measure.
With the last tater tot consumed we’re fully refuelled and ready to hit the road again.
Sometimes it’s not just about the food, it’s the experience and for that V-ATE is in pole position with its decor and friendly, efficient service.
It certainly brightens up a lengthy journey.