A Travelling Author’s Guide to Amazing Food

What with Degrees, Terror Scribes and promoting the new book Green Living, Sacred Life, I’ve been travelling around England a lot this year and have eaten in pubs, cafes and restaurants all over the shop, so I thought I’d recommend the ones that impressed. Don’t ever look for negative reviews from me, unless there’s a serious health or safety issue, I won’t condemn just because something isn’t to my taste – I just won’t publicise them, on the basis that all publicity is good publicity and good publicity should be earned. Anyway, here goes with some worthy eateries. There will be more in the future and you’re welcome to add your favourites.

First off, down to the West Country to the Yard Arm in Plymouth. It describes itself as ‘The Pub On The Hoe’ and this can cause some confusion for non-natives. Plymouth Hoe is a mostly green area where Francis Drake is said to have played bowls before tackling the Spanish Armada for Elizabeth I. It’s still there, still mostly green and overlooking Plymouth Sound (a stretch of water that leads out from the River Plym to the sea), but it goes beyond the grass into more built up parts. The green bit is graced with several statues, including one of the great man himself. The Yard Arm is on Citadel Road, one street back from the sea front. We found it one hungry evening after a search of the area.

I was there with my other half Morgan and my parents, doing a tour of our West Country friends and family while I promoted the new book. We’d booked into a hotel on Citadel Road and discovered too late that they did not do evening meals, so it was a race to find somewhere close at hand that would feed four people. After a couple of hopeful places turned out to be closed, we arrived at the Yard Arm perilously close to last orders.

The greeting was cheery and we were all rather taken by an item on the specials board – the Full Roast Platter, which promised roast dinner for two or four with all the trimmings. The prices were impressive – £12 for two or £20 for four, so it seemed only polite to give it a try. Now, maybe it was because we ordered late and they didn’t expect any more customers, or maybe they always serve giant portions, but that platter was piled high. Nobody could quite agree on which meat option to choose so we’d asked for a bit of each. There was clearly a large bit of each, together with all relevant trimmings – Yorkshire puds for the beef, stuffing balls for the pork, roast potatoes and lots of veg. I’ll be honest, I was hungry and would have settled for anything remotely edible. Being so late, we assumed the food would have been hanging around in steamers etc for a while, so imagine our delight when every single thing on that platter turned out to taste freshly cooked, even the potatoes. I have a thing about potatoes, absolutely hate them reheated and these were definitely fresh. All this was made even better by the waitresses, who made us feel really welcome without overwhelming us or keeping us waiting too long. Oh, and the house wine is pretty fine too. Definitely recommended.

 We were staying at the Georgian House Hotel on Citadel Road and we’re highly likely to stay there again after the lovely lady who greeted us put us in the Bridal Suite (four poster bed, antique furniture and general loveliness). In the morning the Full English was perfectly cooked and perfectly delicious. Telephone them on 01752 661950.

Hop across the country to Essex for the next delight. This one is in Clacton and was introduced to us by close friends we were visiting (without the lovely parents this time). The trip had been great, starting with that visit to the Degrees rehearsal and then several days with old friends Sue and Brian. On the final night we wanted to take them out to dinner, but bowed to their local knowledge on choosing the venue. They opted for Cafe Medina , a modest little Indian restaurant that serves stunningly good food. They choose not to have a license, so you need to take your own beer or wine, but that’s not really a problem as long as you know before hand. I had Chicken Goa, which is chicken and mango in a light fruity sauce. Others had the more usual curry dishes of varying heat. It was all good – very good and I reckon we’d be regulars if it wasn’t such a long drive from home.

Mind you, there was that meal at The Chequers, Pampisford we had when we were actually on our way home. Home made fish cakes for me, steak pie for himself and the most gorgeous desserts ever. I don’t usually bother with a second course, but that pavlova… wow!

Okay, that’s a start. I’ll feature more places in future blogs and if you know of a really good place to feed your face, drop a comment in the box below and if you fancy buying my book…


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