The Brightside roadside dining brand is part of cafe-bar and restaurant operator Loungers, which counts around 230 UK sites under its Lounge and Cosy Club concepts.
The first Brightside venue opened in February 2023 in Exeter, within the former Route 5 restaurant on the A38. This was followed by Brightside Saltash in June of this year, with a site set to follow in Honiton on the A303 (opening 3 August), and a further one under development on the A1 in Rutland.
The brand has been inspired by the Happy Eater and Little Chefs of the 1970s and 80s, designed to offer “a sense of nostalgia with a modern edge”.
I recently moved from London to Saltash in Cornwall, so my interest was piqued when I heard that a new restaurant called Brightside was opening in the town.
In fact the venue is about seven miles west of Saltash high street, next to the Shell garage / Little Waitrose on the A38 Trerulefoot roundabout, but of course that’s the point – it’s a roadside dining concept, not a high street restaurant.
The property had previously traded as Route A38 restaurant, but before that it originally opened as a Little Chef in the 1980s, which shows the longevity of the site as a roadside dining offering.
Inside guests are greeted by a welcome desk and staff in casual uniforms with the tagline “Travel Happy” emblazoned on the back. The venue is deceptively large, with some booths for larger groups near the entrance, and a mixture of smaller booths and dining tables around the corner towards the kitchen.
There is also an outdoor space with tables and parasols. The photo below was provided by Loungers – this being England it was pouring with rain when we visited on a “summer” day in July.
Decor is warm and fuzzy, with orange and black striped booth seating inspired by old train carriages, formica-topped tables and rattan lampshades – but there are modern elements too including USB-ports, and of course the venue is fully accessible.
Toilets continue the retro feel, with that 1970s/80s phenomenon which was the avocado suite – see this post on the Brightside Facebook page. The diner is both dog and children friendly, and judging by the clientele when we visited it is popular with both.
Food and drink
The diner operates a Rise and Shine menu (available until midday), with cooked breakfast options including the Brightside Breakfast – bacon, sausage, potato croquettes, egg, mushrooms, baked beans, tomatoes and sourdough toast (£11.50), and the Veggie Early Riser – grilled halloumi, egg, avocado, tomatoes and sourdough toast (£7.95).
There are also breakfast buns (from £4.95) which might be useful for those on the go, as well as sweeter options including bacon and maple pancakes (£9.50), and even a range of “breakfast cocktails” served from 10am, including a Morning Martini consisting of gin, orange liqueur, pineapple juice and marmalade.
At midday the menu switches over to the Noon to Night menu. A few all-day breakfast items remain available at this point, alongside a range of pizzas (from £10.25), burgers (from £13.95), and “Nation’s Favourites” including chicken Katsu curry (£13.95), ham, egg and chips (£14.95), and spaghetti and meatballs (£13.95).
There is a good selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options – my wife was impressed with the cauliflower macaroni cheese (£11.95), which was rich and packed full with baby spinach and tomatoes. I went for a burger which again was tasty – my only gripe was that the side of “Brightside Waffle Fries” was a little on the measly side.
We all agreed that the winner was the range of milkshakes – thick and creamy with Jersey ice cream, with choices including chocolate, vanilla, banana and salted caramel.
The 1970s inspiration is carried through to the puddings with various Sunny Sundaes including the Brightside Eton Mess, Black Forest, Lemon Meringue Shortbread and Chocolate Fudge Brownie (all £5.95). Coffee is provided by Bristol’s Clifton Coffee Roasters and is also available to take away.
A Bright Sparks children’s menu is also available, and on Tuesdays there is an offer of two pizzas for the price of one from 4pm. For the full menus click here.
The venue was busy when we visited on a Sunday lunchtime, but there seemed to be plenty of staff – we were greeted at the entrance and taken to our seat, and our order was quickly taken.
At one stage we had to send back one of our dishes as we had asked for a plain burger (which for my son means just the burger and bun, no salad or sauces) – this was quickly rectified, and as you can see below he was happy with the outcome.
Decades on from the first roadside diners, they still have their place on the UK road network, and Brightside has done a good job of updating the concept while retaining that warm, comfortable feel that made them so popular in the first place.
Overall we found there to be plenty of choice on the menu – we live around ten minutes from the diner and I could see us visiting again for a family meal, or trying out one of the other venues the next time we pass by.
- Hours Daily from 8am to 9pm
- Price Our lunch for four people (two adults and two children), including main courses, drinks and desserts, came to around £80
- Contact Brightside Saltash, Trerulefoot, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 5BL; +44 (0)1752 373213; brightside.co.uk