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It’s tempting to make my review of Dalton Rooms’ Saturday comedy night a few sentences long. I think I could probably leave it at “they have a white piano and law books in the bar” and you’d get a rough impression of what the place is like and could fill in the blanks.
For sure, it’s not your average student pub and I mean that in the best possible way. Too many of Lancaster’s bars are aimed at the student demographic, but mistakenly think we’re all ravenous alcoholics and pay little attention to decorum and atmosphere, instead opting to shove as many drinks offers in your face as you can take. Not that I mind that too much, but it’s nice to know there’s a place in town I can now go to that won’t patronise me.
The piano, law books and its up market, stylish theme tell you a lot about what Dalton Rooms is trying to be. In terms of drinks, an impressive array of wines and lagers, ranging from your standard Stella Artois to more adventurous flavoured lagers, as well as a diverse range of wines and spirits are available. Unfortunately this also contributes to Dalton Rooms’ biggest drawback, which is without question the drinks prices, which are towards the high end. I was paying between £3.30-£3.50 for a pint, meaning you could probably save just under a pound going to other places if beer is your thing. This makes it unlikely that this Dalton Rooms will become a regular staple of student party nights out.
That said, I don’t think that Dalton Rooms is aiming for that. Rather, Dalton Rooms seems to be positioning itself as a place that you’d maybe take someone out on a date, or somewhere you’d go if you’re expecting something of a higher standard than your usual fare. The entertainment offered is varied, with various genres of music ranging from jazz to funk being offered on various nights. That’s outside the scope of this review, though, as the only thing I got to experience is the comedy night and, of course, the food.
Dalton Rooms’ chef, Liam Robertson, is impressive to say the least. I had the mozarella and pesto risotto balls with roasted red pepper sauce for starter and beef bougignon for main course. The mozarella balls were a good starter, but the main course was really where the points were scored, with succulent pieces of beef in a not too overpowering red wine sauce complimented perfectly with fresh bread and home cut chips. All of it was cooked to perfection and presented beautifully, to the point where I had to double check the menu prices: I was sure that this kind of standard of food should cost more than £9.95 for both courses.
For students, the quality of the Dalton Rooms’ food coupled with its wallet friendly prices mean that it’s a good place to go for a meal if one is after decent food, but concious of their spending. The price of two courses for us that evening weren’t much more expensive (if at all) than you’d pay for a standard pub meal, but the quality was noticeably higher than average. Plus, the general atmosphere of the place is leaning more towards the restaurant side of things – slightly more formal and sophisticated.
After eating, we were shown to the performance room. Given Dalton Rooms’ attention to detail in the presentation of its main bar area, the performance room is something of an anti-climax, with a few tables arranged around a main stage area, it can leave one feeling that this room has been given slightly less attention than the main bar area. This can be forgiven though: when there’s entertainment on, one pays less attention to décor than the standard of the entertainment itself.
Both comedians and the compére were top notch. The acts booked showcased a decent mixture of observational humour, relatable stories about relationships, of the wall Emo Philips style garden path trickery and the obligatory picking on the front row banter. There was also some welcome audience interaction, in the form of a make your own joke sheet, for which prizes were awarded at the end (the winning joke runs the risk of being defamatory, so I won’t repeat it).
Overall, it’s difficult to find much fault with Dalton Rooms’ comedy night. One really has to nitpick or be some kind of professional misanthrope to find fault with it and the negative aspects are surely outweighed by the sheer attention to detail and effort that’s gone into providing Lancaster with a new and exciting place to go on nights out. Whilst it may not be the place to be for typical drink all you can night out, that should not dissuade students from checking out what it has to offer.