Monday 23 August 2010

Magpie Cafe, Whitby, Yorkshire

On a Saturday in summer, you will often have to queue in the rain to get into the near-legendary Magpie Cafe. The top-notch seafood is certainly worth a wait in the wet, but you should aim to get there by noon to be sure of a table in time for lunch.  Spread over several floors of an atmospheric white-washed nineteenth-century harbour-side building, the Magpie is a cramped, but enjoyable, place to eat. From the big windows, there are views across the harbour, towards the ruined Abbey and the narrow winding staircase is lined with arresting old black and white photos of Whitby. Service by the mostly middle-aged locals is very professional, friendly and accommodating. The waitresses will bring colouring sheets for kids and they don't rush you, despite the pressure of people standing on the steps waiting for a table.

Creamy and delicious
The massive menu is awash with local seafood and includes options to suit just about every pocket and stomach. The Magpie fish pie is superb for a tenner. Creamy mash potato and cheese strained into fine strands sits on top of prawns, big hunks of salmon and white fish swimming in a creamy and delicious tarragon sauce. If you want to push the boat out, shell out seventeen quid for the hot seafood pot, stuffed with ultra-fresh clams, crevettes, scallops, mussels, salmon and haddock cooked and served in wine and butter. Very large, very filling and very good. The Magpie isn't overrated. 9/10