Reviews: North East Lincolnshire Dining
Out in Grimsby
pick on Grimsby?
It was a remark said to me when I mentioned that I thought Id
review dining out in Grimsby. Well why not? Sure I could pick on
Scunthorpe, Cleethorpes, Skegness or almost anywhere on the East
Coast of England, but it I was in Grimsby for the weekend to visit
relatives and if you are ever faced with the same choice, you might
want to consider bringing sarnies...
is a fine looking town on the East Coast of England on the River Humber.
If Peoples Park and the surrounding elegant late Victorian and
Edwardian homes were nearer London theyd be million pound homes.
But they are not and neither is Grimsby. Getting there requires absolute
determination. There is no direct train (long ago decapitated by British
Rail and GNER). You can get there via the MI and M180 (the loneliest
motorway in the UK) but watch out for bored cops with radar lining the
route. You can also go up by the A1, take the Lincoln turn off at Newark
where you will find a great new fast highway to Lincoln. Savour it,
for after this you can stress out for the next 50 miles when you realise
there is nowhere to overtake for the entire journey and there are a
lot of tractors and Robin Reliants in the way. Lincolnshire is justifiably
proud of its lack of good roads and many motorists death black spots.
No motorways anywhere, its all single lane in every direction.
This is 19th century Britain and pretty much going to stay that way
So lets say you want to stay the night in Grimsby (its an old
town, allegedly it put the Doom into the Doomsday Book). Well there
is the Queen Elizabeth hotel by the golf course, but its a soulless
60s nightmare a granny in a miniskirt. Theres
the St James Regal Hotel by the pretty St James Church in town, but
you might not like the noise and the rising tide of vomit around it
from all the bars around the Bull Ring and Victoria Street. Theres
something called Oaklands out of town, which used to be a private mansion.
(Around fifty quid a night it you want to know.) You could stay in Cleethorpes
at the Kingsway
Hotel, which is quiet, has 52 en-suite rooms, and captures the pure
essence of 1950s with some degree of accuracy. The dining room
is one of the best in the county but it is trapped in the roast beef
and yorkshire pud past and the wine list is limited, the barman completely
indifferent. Nevertheless it is reassuringly expensive and thats
enough for some.
is also Millfields on Bargate which is also a sports club and
it has a friendly bar and dining room, as well as 26 rooms and
conference facilities -you can enjoy the hotels sporting activities
which include squash, gymnasium, turkish room, sauna,solarium
I believe the Yarborough Hotel by the station also is functioning
as a hotel again. It features a Weatherspoons inside which offers
a varied food menu.
its Saturday night and you want to eat. Its tough. People
dont eat in Grimsby they drink. Food is an afterthought, if you
want something other than fish and chips you will find it a challenge.
However there is excellent fish to be had at Coxs by the Freshney
River (just dont look too hard at the river) or Steeles in Cleethorpes.
Both offer fresh fish, large portions, but its fried or nothing.
We sought pasta. We were recommended an Italian restaurant
in the base of the Windmill in Waltham on the Brigsley Road. Its
probably not their fault that there was a funfair there that night and
a firework display but the rest of it is. The decor is what people used
to imagine foreign restaurants looked like in Spain or wherever in 1960.
Great splodges of scalloped plaster painted yellow. A wine list that
basically offered a pungent merlot or acidic house red. Staff who couldnt
be bothered to give out a menu and food at London prices (Beef stroganoff
Halibut with some kind of sauce.)
Castle in the Docks -
A taste of
Italy? Waltham Windmill
left. Its a risky thing to do when you are hungry and its
After driving for a while we began to realise that there are no restaurants
in Grimsby. Sure theres a Pizza Hut on Victoria street but you
risk being maimed for life parking in the centre of town on almost any
night around there. The bars (the usual chain of Chicago and Walkabout
bars) are heaving with skimpily dressed underage kids who havent
noticed the frost outside. By accident, we drove past the Pink Butterfly
restaurant and paused.
I remembered from past visits that people had mentioned it as being
civilised and it being next to the police station, one could possibly
park outside and be fairly confident they arent going to nick
your alloys wheels whilst you eat.
We parked, we asked if a table was available, (it had just two diners
in there) and they thought about it for about 20 minutes and finally
allowed us to eat. The decor is restrained for the region, even though
it started life as someones living room or office; it is comfortable
and relaxing. It was probably too quiet and the lighting too bright.
It is the sort of place that attracts young lovers looking to impress
their first date. When other customers finally came in they felt obliged
to whisper and it did feel a lot like dining in a contemporary funeral
home. The menu is divided between a wide choice of fresh fish (Bream,
Halibut, Tuna and more) and meat dishes. I usually judge a place by
the quality of the house wine. If its dire then you can be sure
the rest will be. I was possibly proven wrong here. The wine was a plonk
Californian red and was undrinkable (but they still charged three quid
for it.) I had bream and my sister had tuna. The portions were, to put
it mildly, small, but tastefully presented with strips of burned leek
strands and full of flavour. The owner and chef is Italian, and some
care had gone into the presentation of the anti-pasta range on offer.
I noted the Chef carefully went around greeting everyone but us, maybe
we scared him, or frowned too much. The service was bit surly, but we
put that down to the girls being forced to live in Grimsby rather than
an attitude problem. With no pud, one cup of coffee and that awful glass
of wine it came to forty pounds. Would we go again? I think not.
Grimsby isnt alone in being short of choice for dining. You can
experience the same disappointments in thousands of northern towns and
many southern ones. For three long years I lived in Cornwall and although
the choice was greater and the food better than Lincolnshire, you had
to travel miles to find the places and drive back on treacherous roads.
Grimsby is not a poor town. It has a college that is better equipped
and offers a more diverse range of courses than many Universities offer
and it even has some interesting buildings (The Dock Tower, and er well
The Dock Tower). But unless you count shopping in Abbeygate an experience
(where youll find niche designer clothes and a good cup of latte)
its an experiment in cultural nihilism. Grimbarians are proud
of their almost total rejection of art or culture and culinary skills.
These are the types of people who will still be there after the apocalypse
but you still wouldnt want to spend a Saturday night there. Ever.
To find out more click on www.visitgrimsby.co.uk
and see for yourself.
© Marcel d'Agneau November 2003
all rights reserved