During the last bank holiday I spent 3 days away from London in North Yorkshire near the sea side. It was three perfect peaceful day apart from a broken phone and a car breakdown at the end. I visited three different villages and restaurants : The Magpie Café in Whitby, Tea Rooms in Ravenscar and The Wayfarer in Robin Hood's Bay (Reviews below).
My friend and I slept in a nice Bed & Breakfast Thorpe Hall in the village of Flyingthorpe. The house was built in 1680 by the Fawside family, the family legacy is still alive in some of the rooms of the house. Owners were very nice and welcoming and did a nice breakfast every morning which featured nice home-made jam. This place is ideal if you don't really want to use a car, it is few minutes walk away from Robin Hood's Bay and a few other villages on an old railway line.

English breakfast (I requested without tomato beans), toast with butter and home-made plum jam
While you were all enjoying probably a nice piece of lamb for Easter served with vegetables and mint sauce, I became friend with three sheep in Thorpe Hall, which is probably the reason why I didn't eat lamb this year, instead I only had fish.  

Our first excursion was in the seaside, port town of Whitby. It was such a lovely town, I was impressed by the fact there was a queue nearly outside every restaurants that served Fish & Chips and the town itself smells Fish & Chips apart for the top part on the hill near Whitby Abbey. Of course the longest queue was where my friend wanted to go: The Magpie Café, but he told me it was the one of the best Fish & Chips in the UK. We waited 40 minutes which wasn't that bad as it was pretty warm and sunny outside. I'm not sure I will have queue that much under the rain. 
The menu is mainly fish dishes (fried or grilled) but they also have vegetarian options, I laughed when I saw this option as it reminds me of Chris Pople tweet from the 16th April (see below), but well I guess restaurants especially in small town had to please everyone.
However my friend and I are not vegetarian so we both ordered a regular cod and chips each and we shared a side of mushy peas as the waiters told us the regular portion of fish was massive.
The waitress didn't lie, the fish was very big, the batter was light, crispy and not greasy, and the fish inside was...WOW... white and flakey. It was by far the best fish and chips I had in my life, nothing compare to all the fish and chips I had in London, Brighton or Eastbourne. Fries and mushy peas were perfect too. Both plates were empty at the end. 
While we were eating, one of the table next to us became available, my friend and I were both impressed by the rapidity of the service, in less than 30 seconds three waiters had emptied and re-laid the table for new customers, by reading that you might think they pushed us out very quickly after the meal... but in reality it was totally the opposite, you didn't feel they were in the rush, they let you enjoy your meal and even digest at your table.    

Cod and chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce

Magpie's Cafe
14 Pier Rd
Whitby YO21 3PU
Twitter: @Themagpiecafe
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The second excursion was in a weird village...Ravenscar, the town that never was. Around the 19th–20th century, plans were made to turn the village into a holiday resort. Roads were laid out, some houses were built and sewers were laid. Ravenscar never achieved popularity and the development was left unfinished mainly due to the long trek to reach the rocky beach. The railway was closed also in 1965 so now the place look a bit deserted near the old railway station, apart from a little Tea Room
Hot Chocolate and Victoria sponge cake

This place was totally old fashioned, plastic tablecloths on table & old frames on the wall, it was also miles away from everything...but guess what? It was packed. We had to wait to get a table as this place is a pitstop for walking and cycling enthusiasts who goes along the old railway. 
I loved that place, it was old school, people who worked there were all nice and authentic, such a massive difference with some of pretentious afternoon place in London.
I had a Victoria sponge cake which was home-made, delicious and big with a hot chocolate with whipped cream. I feel a bit sad now we didn't took the Afternoon tea for £9.95 each including a hot drink, sandwich, buttered scones and a piece of cake. 

Ravenscar Tea Rooms
1 Station Square
 Ravenscar YO13 0LU
Ravenscar Tea Rooms on Urbanspoon

Our last excursion was in the small village Robin Hood's Bay which was only 10 minutes walk from our bed and breakfast. 
We had dinner at The Wayfarer, a small bistro situated on the main road on the top of the hill. The restaurant  menu was quite classic and had most of the basic dishes. The most interesting thing was the specials on the board which changed daily depending on fish arrival.
From our table we could see the kitchen, we noticed the team was only three girl chefs, despite the rush because the restaurant was packed, they worked in a quiet kitchen, they were all focused on their dishes.
My friend ordered the halibut and cod special fishcake served with a garlic mayonnaise as a starter and I had the black pudding. Both starters were nice, tasty and despite the way it looks, it was quite light to eat. It looked like a de-constructed black pudding scotched egg, it goes very well with the caramelised onion chutney.
Halibut & Cod fishcake, garlic mayonnaise
Black pudding with an ham hock potato cake, crisp crumbed poached egg, caramelised onion chutney
As a main we both ordered from the specials on the board, my friend had Whitby scampi served with salad, coleslaw and fries, and I had Monkfish wrapped in parma ham with chorizo, welsh rarebit and spicy harissa served with vegetables and fries. Both dishes were fantastic and you could taste how fresh the seafood was. The batter around the scampi was perfectly crispy. My dish was delicious,I really liked the different texture of this dish, the monkfish was flakey inside, parma ham, chorizo and Welsh rarebit was crispy around and the spicy harissa sauce and mixed herbs was very tasty, full of flavours it really gave another dimension to the dish. 
Whitby Scampi, salad, coleslaw and fries
Monkfish wrapped in parma ham with chorizo, welsh rarebit and spicy harissa
Robin Hood's Bay isn't the place to go as a foodie, as there is not many restaurants around here...Most of them are part of a bed & breakfast or a pub. I think we found a good place to enjoy a great dinner with well executed tasty dishes made with very good and fresh products. 

The Wayfarer
Station Road
Robin Hood's Bay YO22 4RL
The Wayfarer on Urbanspoon




Recently I went to the one-Michelin starred restaurant Galvin La Chapelle for my friends birthday. We both ordered the Menu Gourmand which included 7 courses. The restaurant looked very nice, I don't really know if it was an old Chapel some time in the past, but the decor felt like it. The table set up is quite traditional with white napkins and white tablecloths.
Before the first dish, we were offered some white or brown bread. It wasn't the best I've had, I'm not even sure it was home-made.
The first dish in this menu was a lasagne of Dorset crab, unfortunately my crab allergy doesn't allow me to eat this kind of dish, the team was very understanding and replaced my first dish with one of the dish from A La Carte menu : Cured organic salmon served with kohlrabi, avocado & blood orange. My salmon was nice but nothing special. 
 Lasagne of Dorset crab, beurre Nantais & pea shoots

Cured organic salmon, kohlrabi, avocado & blood orange

Second dish was a pressed ham hock & foie gras terrine served with red onion marmalade
It was a nice dish but not really my cup of tea. I have never been a terrine fan, I like foie gras on its own. The terrine was a bit dry, however the red onion marmalade made it more easy to eat. 
 Pressed ham hock & foie gras terrine, red onion marmalade

The first really enjoyable dish was the risotto of Périgord truffle and Jerusalem artichoke, the whole dish was a delight, not too rich and very tasty. I love Jerusalem artichoke, it is one of my favourite roots vegetables just after "tubercule de cerfeuil". The mixture of them with truffle & risotto was perfect. 
Risotto of Périgord truffle and Jerusalem artichokes

Next course was a red Cornish mullet, I never tried this kind of fish before in my life. I won't be the best person to judge this dish, but anyway... I think it tasted very nice and it matched very well with the vegetable barigoule.

Fillet of red Cornish mullet, saffron orange & vegetable barigoule


Tagine of Bresse pigeon, cous cous, confit lemon & harissa sauce

When I saw Tagine of Bresse pigeon I though it was a weird combination pigeon and Moroccan dish. After few bites this dish became the highlight of my meal.The meat was perfectly cooked, moist and tender, confit lemon and harissa sauce adds a litlle bitterness and spiciness to the whole dish and goes very well with the pigeon. I was just a bit disappointed it didn't have a bigger portion of it like the table seated next to us (They ordered it from A La Carte menu so the portion is a lot bigger than the tasting menu version). 

Truffled Brie de Meaux, grape chutney & walnuts

Cheese selection was great, the brie was soft and very tasty combined with the grape chutney. Then came the dessert, it was a wonderful apple tarte tatin, apples were full of flavours, quite soft, caramelised and soft at the same time. Those two last dishes were faultless. 

Apple tarte Tatin, Normandy crème fraîche

Overall my dinner at Galvin La Chapelle was very nice, compare to tables around us, waiters have been nearly faultless with us, I have to request water two times but I guess we have been more lucky than the table around us which had two glasses dropped on the floor. I didn't think all dishes have a Michelin level, but I really enjoy the Tagine of Bresse Piegon. I am not sure it will be the place I recommend for a special experience.


Galvin La Chapelle
35 Spital Square
London E1 6DY
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Since the last few weeks, I like to go outside the trendy new list of restaurants everyone is talking about on the blogosphere or Twitter. Instead I go to small little independent restaurants near central London. Previously I went to Hudsons in Putney which was a great surprise. This time I had dinner in Finsbury Park in a traditional south Italian restaurant: Little Sardegna. A friend introduced me to this place as she just lives in front of it. 
When we arrived the restaurant was totally empty, we had a booking for five person. In less than half an hour, it was totally packed, they had to refuse walk-ins. 
The decoration is traditional, green and red checked tablecloths, specials written on the board and some Italian accessories on the wall. Waitresses were very nice and Italian which makes this place more authentic.
At the back on the restaurant on the left there is a bar area and on the right side you can see the kitchen and chefs cooking. I thought we had  the best as we could see the kitchen. 
On the menu, there is pasta dishes, meats or fish dishes. All of us focused on the two special pasta dishes on that night : tagliatelle tartufo and ravioli cernia and the pasta section on the menu.
We ordered the special ravioli cernia, mallureddos, gnocchi contadina and two of us had tagliatelle funghi e salsiccia. When food arrived on the table, everything smelled delicious. Pasta were all homemade, cooked al dente, all dishes were faultless and well seasoned. 
 Ravioli Cernia: homemade ravioli filled with grouper fish, butter, parmesan and botarga sauce
 Mallureddos: traditional homemade Sardegna gnocchetti in pork mince ragu & Pecorino cheese
 Tagliatelle funghi e salsiccia: thin stripes egg pasta in Porcini mushrooms and sausage sauce
 Gnocchi Contadina : Potato gnocchi filled with pesto in Mustia cheese, cherry tomato & aubergine sauce
As a dessert some of us had a tiramisu, I can't really tell how it was as I am not a big fan or expert in tiramisu. But my friends seemed to enjoy it.
At the end of the meal we had a complimentary limoncello shot each, I don't know if they do that for all client, but my friend is a regular there. 
If you are looking for real authentic Italian food, Little Sardegna is definitely the place you should go to. Prices are a bit expensive for the area or for the fact it isn't a fine dining restaurant, but it's totally worth the price. 

Little Sardegna
170 Blackstock Road
London N5 1HA
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