Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Magpie Cafe - Whitby

Most people in Yorkshire, especially those who have visited Whitby will tell you that the best place to get fish and chips in Whitby, or even on the whole East Yorkshire coast is The Magpie. Long queues are associated with both its restaurant and takeaway and it has become somewhat of a Yorkshire coast landmark, it has afterall been serving fish and chips since 1937. With celebrity chef accolades  (Rick Stein has sung its praises, remarking that I opened his eyes to how good a chip can really be) it's one of the most, if no the most, popular places to go in Whitby.

As mentioned in my previous post we opted to have fish and chips (because you can't go to the seaside and not have fish and chips) for our evening meal. Too many times have we indulged during the day, perching on walls or sand, to only feel lethargic and tired afterwards, not great when you're wanting to explore the area a bit more... and perhaps have an ice cream too.

I've been to Whitby a few times over the last few years, and so my dad tells me, I spent a week there when I was three years old too. Each time I've been to Whitby (from the times I can remember) there has been a large queue for both the restaurant and the takeaway. The only other chippy that seems to acquire queues as long as the Magpie's is one near the harbour/pier, but I guess that's due to location more than anything else. I've heard that other nearby businesses have complained about the long queues which have stemmed from outside The Magpie, what they expect to be done about it I'm unsure. 

We tried to book a table for the night on the day that we arrived but we were told that they only take large party bookings so we would need to chance it and queue. We arrived at 7.20pm with the queue  much smaller than anticipated, it grew as we stood there but we we're only waiting 10-15 minutes for a table. As it was a pleasant evening it wasn't too much of a bother. 

We had walked past during the afternoon and noticed there was only a short queue for the restaurant and virtually no queue for the takeaway, we visited on a Friday before the schools broke up so Whitby felt unusually quiet. I'm told Friday is switching over day for the people on weekly stays too. It was much more peaceful than a mid summer weekend. 

We were seated upstairs with further surprises as I hadn't expected it to be so big inside. It's clear to see that they are doing exceptionally well as the specials were displayed on flat screen TVs and the waitresses took our orders using tablets (iPads or similar). The restaurant was full of families, couples, and adult diner groups. There was a nice relaxed atmosphere and the staff were extremely pleasant and accommodating. 

The menu was quite extensive, far more than simply fish and chips... But how could we not have fish and chips in the infamous Magpie?! 

I spied the specials TV and eyed that they had Pollock on the menu, my preference over cod and haddock any day. I was worried that it would be served with bones so I chickened out and ordered cod that was stated on the menu as boned. Why I didn't just ask the waitress is beyond me, pre-dinner nerves I guess. 

D and I both ordered a small portion of cod and chips, mine accompanied with mushy peas and D's with chippy curry sauce. Should you wish to take a visit to The Magpie I'd suggest if both of you would like mushy peas just to order the one portion, my portion was far more than I could eat and D even dipped in a bit too, despite his slight aversion to mushy peas brought on by naivity (it was only his second time trying mushy peas). I was slight perturbed by D's curry sauce, I was going to sneak a dip with my chip until it arrived at our table. Served in a gravy boat it had more skin on the top than sauce in the bottom. Blurgh.

The small portion was definitely the right amount for us, I managed to finish my fish on this occasion (this never ever happens) and just left some chips. D cleared his plate and managed to do so in record time, I was left lagging behind.

The fish, as you would expect at the seaside, was sensationally fresh. The fish was unbelievably white (the picture doesn't do it justice) and broke away in to flakes as we ate. The batter was crispy with only a few fatty pieces (not everyone's perfect eh?). It definitely beats the fish and chips in Leeds.

Whilst we were there we were sat next to one other couple at a table about 20cms away from ours, they didn't order fish and chips but instead something that looked a little more refined. They weren't impressed with my picture taking, I'm presuming because I had my obtrusive SLR camera with me. I didn't notice and D didn't tell me until after the meal, which is probably for the best as I might have done something obnoxious and taken a picture of them.  Either that or I would have felt downtrodden and reverted back to covert iPhone pictures...

All in all I enjoyed our meal at The Magpie, two small fish and chips, with peas and curry sauce accompanied by two pints of pop came to £28.18. We tried to leave our cash on the table once we had received our bill but as we began to walk back down the stairs we were acosted by the waitress who said we needed to take it down with us and pay the lady at the desk. This was similar to Murgatroyd's in Leeds so I'm wondering if it's a general paying rule with fish restaurants?

I'm happy in the fact that I can say I have now tried The Magpie's fish and chips... although I will probably get take out next time, nothing beats that sandy fresh aired taste that accompanies them at the seaside (despite what I said earlier). 

Magpie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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