Walkers Fish Restaurant, East Ayton
As I sipped my way through a cold, refreshing cider, waiting for the food to arrive, I reflected on what a comfortable and relaxing place I was in.
Away from the midsummer hubbub of similar venues on the seafront or town centre, Walkers seemed a little haven of calm. On the Sunday we visited it was roughly half full, with people of all ages, and has such a pleasant ambience that I could have happily stayed all afternoon.
Even the toddlers – there were a couple at a nearby table – were entertained, by two fish tanks built into the walls.
Not that those tanks could have contained the fish that arrived in front of me – a whopping cod that was one of the finest fish I’ve had for a long time.
Anyway, first things first. Walkers has a not-unwieldy menu, in fact the mains choices – obviously centred on seafood – fit on one page. But the choice of starters was impressive – 10 in the menu and a further two on a specials board, to be exact.
From those, we chose deep fried goats cheese, breaded brie wedges and Atlantic prawn cocktail. The two cheese dishes were sublime; succulent cheese covered in thin and light batter and breadcrumbs respectively. My son’s prawn cocktail was despatched quickly, with no complaints.
The fish dishes on the main menu come in three sizes – small, regular and giant. We chose a small haddock, medium cod, and Scottish scampi, with a good helping of bread and butter and a portion of mushy peas.
My son’s small haddock left him struggling to eat the accompanying chips, while my monster of a medium cod spilled over the plate. The fish was succulent and delicious, and so white that it almost required sunglasses to eat it! The batter was light and crispy. The chips were chunky without being starchy, and the peas completed a really appetising dish. Heaven knows how I’d have managed a giant version ... I doubt the plate would have been cleared.
The scampi was equally tasty, beneath more perfectly cooked batter.
Feeling suitably full and lethargic in the comfortable, sun-bathed restaurant, it was a difficult decision whether to finish off with a dessert. So we shared just one.
The separate dessert blackboard was crammed with choices, from coffee maple walnut pavlova and rhubarb and ginger brulee to summer fruit Eton mess and jam sponge. We chose a sherry berry banana trifle – pleasant enough, although it was a little stodgy with its clotted cream, and the summer fruits overpowered any banana taste.
Walkers isn’t particularly cheap – most of the starters are £5.95, for example – but for a quality, comfortable seafood dining experience it’s hard to match.