I’ve always been a curious soul. From Boris Johnson (does he ever comb his hair?) to chocolate (it MUST have some magical quality), various topics pepper my conscience on a daily basis. One such topic on my mind was Walkabout – was the food actually any good..?

I had to find out and thought the invite from Team Walkabout was most opportune. My preconceptions of Walkabout (speaking from experience of a forgetful drinking night aeons ago) consisted of inebriated folk, sticky floors and boring food reheated to within an inch of its life.

Since its inception in 1994, the brand is popular around the country and now boasts hundreds of bars in the UK and beyond. Billing itself as an Aussie bar, with chilled vibes and pocket friendly drinks, it appeals to the masses.

I walked into the Derby branch with trepidation. It has undergone a recent refurbishment and looked alright. I was hopeful. The front windows are done away with in clement weather, giving the impression that one is actually on a large veranda in a far flung European island.

We were shown to our comfortable and pretty booth, which was reserved with my framed name. Great so far – except my name was spelt wrong. Not to worry, these things happen. A smiling waiter took our drinks order and handed us some menus. One thing that struck me, was the lighting inside. It is dark. And I mean dark. You know when your date dims the light for a more romantic ambience at his home? It was that dark. Odd, but nothing untoward.

We checked out the various menus, which I thought comprehensive, very diverse and actually pretty great. The drinks menu is better than most bars, featuring Staropramen (ordered by my partner), draught beers and cider, spirits, cocktails and wine list.

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We kicked off with Dipping Shrimps (breaded Whitby Bay prawns, spicy seafood sauce, watermelon, salad). The prawns were good; nicely browned, succulent inside and great when dunked into the sauce.

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I had the Bondi Fish Burger (lightly battered barramundi fish fillet, tartare sauce, watermelon, salad). The portions are very generous and I found myself struggling to finish it. The fish was seasoned well, and overall, the burger was good. It would have been great to have a different salad than what was served with the starter (perhaps dressed differently, or using different components, say cherry tomatoes?), but this was hardly a cardinal sin. The additional Peri Peri Sweet Potato Fries were delicious. I’m a huge fan of sweet potatoes, and I rejoice when this understated vegetable is shown some TLC and cooked well.

My partner had Kangaroo Steak and as recommended, ordered it medium. It came served with chips and the watermelon salad. I had seen enough watermelon throughout the course of the meal. Unfortunately, to have the same salad served three times in one meal was just a little too much for my liking.

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I tried to cut off a piece of steak from my partner’s plate and miserably failed. I felt as if I was sawing the meat, because it was very, very, very well done, despite ordering it medium. At one point, I stuck a fork in to see how tough the meat was. It was tough, chewy and when I tried putting the slab of meat back down, it landed with a “thwack” on the plate. It was a very dry plate of food. Perhaps a side of sauce may have provided some form of liquid moistness on the plate.

We didn’t order dessert, but the menu looked good (the Strawberry Cheesecake sounded lush). There are many positives with Walkabout. The waiting staff are welcoming. The sides are very good. The menus are diverse. The delivery, unfortunately needs work, and the development chefs some inspiration on ways to prep different sides and to review cooking of burgers.

Would I go again? I am a hopeful soul so yes. Their breakfast menu looks good, so I may pop in sometime soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I’d rather eat my own shoe, I hated it that much” – 10: “I’d pillage for a meal here”.)

Food: 5

Value for money: 7

Ambience: 4

Service: 7

Rate or Slate? Rate.

Derby Walkabout, 9-11 Market Place, Derby DE1 3QE

Website: www.walkaboutbars.co.uk/venues/derby

Tel: 01332 292172

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