Life

Eating Out: Solo at Campsie is in a good location but they should illuminate the sign...

The location will count for a lot but what matters even more is Solo’s warmth and friendliness, says Dominic Kearney

Solo at Campsie. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 31-1-2024
The friendly Solo is a surprise find at Campsie (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )
Solo Restaurant and Bar,
Unit 1A, Campsie Business Park,
Eglinton,
BT47 3XX.
028 7186 0912

Okay, so it’s a step-up from an industrial estate, but still, a business park isn’t where you’d normally expect to go for your evening meal. But that’s where we found Solo.

At least, that’s where we found Solo eventually. The satnav took us right to the door, but the only sign I could make out on the front of the unit was for a physiotherapist’s. It wasn’t until my daughter’s night vision kicked in that we saw the sign for the restaurant, above a door to the side of the physio’s.

The modern, bland, functional exterior of the building gives no clue to the nature of the interior. Through the door and you’re in a room of rich woods and comfortable furnishings. It’s like the fixtures and fittings have been lifted from an old city centre pub and dropped into this out-of-town business unit.

Solo at Campsie. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 31-1-2024
Eating out review Solo at Campsie - they should illuminate the sign (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

The interior is divided into two halves, although the split is nicely blurred. On one level is the dining area, while, down a few steps it’s more of a pub, with a semi-circular bar lined with stools. The four of us were seated in a booth in the restaurant, where the sense of being disconnected to the outside was reinforced by the firmly closed shutters over any window.

The location will count for a lot: it’s hard to think of another nearby place to eat in the evening. What will count for more is the warmth and friendliness of Solo, and the feeling that, once you’re inside, you are no longer in a business park, but a cosy local

We chose from the early evening menu. My daughter’s chicken burger arrived first, the meat soft and moist inside a crispy coating, and the mash creamy and smooth. My wife’s baked cod was well-cooked, although lacking a little in seasoning. With the addition of the red pesto and parmesan, however, there was a great leap in taste. The creamy sauce added wetness and texture, but it was hard to discern the exact flavour.

I enjoyed my gammon. For one thing, there was loads of it: two big, thick slices, salty, sweet, lovely. It went well with the mash, although there was a bit of skimping with the scallions. My brother is quite conservative in his restaurant choices. With him, it’s either chicken or burger. He went for the burger this time, and he got it right. The patty was thick and moist, with bags of flavour, while the relish was lovely and the onion rings crispy and sweet.

He also got it right when it came to the pudding. The apple was sweet and sharp, with just the right amount of bite, while the topping was crunchy to begin with and then soft. Good custard. The other desserts were fine – soft sponge and sweet sauce for the sticky toffee pudding, and a fairly ordinary Baked Alaska. Perfectly nice, but nothing to write home about.

I always find it interesting to have a look at the other customers when I go out to eat, to get an idea of the attraction of a place. Doing this, it was clear that the food is only one part of Solo’s appeal.

Solo at Campsie. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 31-1-2024
Once you’re inside, you are no longer in a business park, but a cosy local (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

We were there early on a Friday evening. There were others there when we arrived, and it was filling up nicely as we left. While it was our first time, I got the impression that wasn’t the case for most of the others, given the familiarity with which they were greeted.

There were a number of families, including a dad with his four children (it has to be said, the children’s meals are great value). And there was a table with three couples, all pensioners by the look of things, each with a pint of creamy Guinness in front of them, taking their time with the menu. No need to rush when you’ve got a good Guinness.



The location will count for a lot: it’s hard to think of another nearby place to eat in the evening. What will count for more is the warmth and friendliness of Solo, and the feeling that, once you’re inside, you are no longer in a business park, but a cosy local. They should illuminate the sign.

The bill
Mains:
  • Sugar-baked Irish gammon, spring onion mash, white sauce
  • Baked cod, red pesto and parmesan crust, spring onion mash, white sauce
  • 8oz steak burger, mozzarella, bacon bits, lettuce, onion rings, Ballymaloe relish
  • Child’s chicken burger, mashed potato
  • Sides of chips and vegetables
Desserts:
  • Baked Alaska
  • Sticky toffee pudding, custard
  • Apple crumble, custard
  • Child’s ice cream
Drinks:
  • Coca-Cola x 3 - £8.85
Early evening menu, Tuesday to Sunday, 4pm to 7.30pm, two courses for £21.95; child’s meal, £6.50
Total: £81.20