St. Annes-on-Sea, Lancashire, dining recs. pls.
3 dads and 3 13 year old boys staying at the Dalmeny Hotel just for next Sunday night. Any advice on where we should eat (or not eat) supper within strolling distance please? We're driving from the south coast, so we'll have had enough of cars. Most cuisines should be fine. Or are we best to eat in the hotel?
Head to The Hastings in Lytham
I went there to try the hot pot cooked by young chef, Warrick Dodds and it was one of the most memorable dishes of my recent trip around the UK. I think you have to give him 24 hrs notice to make it, so call ahead
Have it with some of his pickled red cabbage and follow it with one of his Eccles Cakes
Hope this helps
We had dinner twice at the Hastings.
The chef at the Hastings used to be at Northcote Manor in Blackburn. The Hastings offers good, solid grub: pie, potato soup, burgers, fish and chips, smoked salmon, etc. What it does best is the intensely local/ British. There are a couple of vegetarian options, and the menu claims that 'nearly all' dishes can be adapted for vegetarian diets, but I can't imagine how that would work.
The space is open and airy, with generously separated tables. One of the two nights we went there they had live musicians doing classical covers of old tunes - the musicians were able enough, but set the volume very loud indeed.
I enthusiastically second Simon Majumdar's verdict from a year or so ago. The hotpot is spectacular. Melt in the mouth lamb, very delicately spiced, with a paper thin layer of potatoes and melted cheese. Accompanied by a little pot of cabbage pickled in apple cider: sweet, tart and immensely refreshing. Delicious. This dish is not on the summer menu, but I rang two days in advance and the chef agreed to prepare it. It was worth the extra phone call or two.
Lamb suet pudding with steamed vegetables. This is the stuff of culinary nightmares (or Enid Blyton novels): a stodgy pudding filled with tasteless meat, and not much else. At the Hastings, the pudding came in a delicious jus of lamb and rosemary. The suet was light, acting almost like a dumpling wrapper to a gently braised lamb, and the whole package was flavoursome, with textural contrasts and freshness from the mange tout. This is how traditional British cuisine can and should be done.
Finally, there was the true star of the meals (ordered twice): a Lytham shrimp salad with a soft boiled duck egg, served (an inspired touch) on a toasted crumpet, with a tarragon mayonnaise. Superb balance of flavours, with fresh flavoursome little shrimp holding their own against the mayonnaise, and the crumpet providing a lovely base for it all.
Off the specials menu came a local Dover sole with parsley butter, Lytham shrimps and a generous mound of capers. A well cooked fish, a good balance of flavours, and the local shrimp are deservedly delicious.
A grilled mackerel starter also played well with flavours, a strong mustardy sauce and sharp pickles holding their own against the strong fish.
The sirloin steak was good meat, and came with small but tasty portions of chips and mushrooms. Unfortunately, we had requested medium-rare: it came closer to medium.
The worst dish was a starter of roasted lamb fillet with caramelised lamb shortbreads. The fillet was overcooked, the shortbreads were startlingly uninteresting and were overpowered by (of all things) the pea shoots. All in all, the dish needed something more to bring it all together and thence to life. We finished the plate, but would probably rather have ordered a third of the shrimp salad instead.
We tried three desserts whilst there, and none of them were standouts; two were actually uninteresting. The mango trifle with coconut foam was the best of the three. The foam, though sweet, was well flavoured and complemented the custard and mango well; and pineapple added a spot of sharpness. The sponge was on the scanty side, but not enough to feel stinted. The other two desserts we tried were the iced apple crumble and the manchester tart. The latter was a fairly ordinary banana and custard tart which needed copious amounts of the raspberry coulis to elevate it from blandness. The former was a spicy apple compote with a sprinkling of crumble over it - I'm not really sure why it was called 'iced'.
I wish the Eccles cake had been on the menu; I think it would have played to the chef's strengths, which the more delicate desserts didn't. This is a place for good British standards and local produce. I thought it rather a shame there weren't more Lytham shrimp on the menu: only one dish on the main menu, and one on the specials. I wish I had tried the steak and ale pie. It seemed a favourite: about a dozen wafted past our table over the course of the two evenings, and it looked spectacular.
robin, simon's bob on, hastings is in a league of its own in the area, but it is in lytham and would involve a short cab ride. if you're dead set on eating within strolling distance i think it comes down to a few choices:
greens bistro at the top of wood st has been going for some time now and is listed in all the guides. i've not been but word is it's fairly unadventurous, yet competent, well executed stuff with a lot of good sourcing from the region.
jacks is at the other end of wood st (take the back exit of the dalmeny and it's literally a stone's throw across the road). again, competent bistro/brasserie style food. it's really popular with locals and, when busy, does have a great atmosphere.
i've not been for a while, but joya, mid way between the two up wood st, is an ok modern italian.
finally, cafe grand in the grand hotel has been very popular since it opened 18 months ago and admittedly does serve to a certain standard, although i couldn't quite get my head round their global menu which mashes tapas alongside northern favourites. i found it to be jack of all trades, master of none and expensive to go with it. however, as i say, i am prob in the minority here.
have a great trip
Thank you both.
We ended up going to Jack's Bistro last night, and it was a bit mixed. Very friendly welcome from the boss, nice European waitress, and perfectly ok food (variously pan fried sole, roast beef, steak, chilli prawns, fishcake and pesto linguini). However the place really could do with sprucing up. My thumb left a smear in the sheen of grease on the sideplate already laid on the table, glasses looked washed but not dried/polished etc. Also the Gents was in a distinctly musty basement (again, a very greasy handrail on the stairs), there had been a flood by the washbasins and the bin was overflowing with used paper towels. Clearly no staff had been in there for some time.
They need to address these matters before the holiday season gets going.
Overall though, it was good value, and busy enough on a Sunday evening to have a nice atmosphere, but the drawbacks would probably make me look elsewhere next time.