Restaurant review - Albert’s Eatery, Whitby
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Few things are better than seafood at the seaside but Albert’s Eatery in Whitby packs in a fascinating history lesson too.
Fine food and fossils. It's an unusual combination but one that sits nicely on the menu at Albert's Eatery where the twin pleasures of nostalgia and convivial dining go side by side.
Albert's Eatery lies within the Museum of Whitby Jet in Wesley Hall, a former Methodist chapel in the heart of old Whitby. It's packed full of character thanks to striking features such as the very grand original Victorian tiles.
A vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows add to the sense of history, making it an unusual and fascinating place to sit and enjoy a very modern-day lunch or dinner.
Albert's Eatery is named after Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria. When Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria took to wearing Whitby Jet jewellery in remembrance of him. It was the only jewellery she allowed to be worn in court.
It was at this time that James Storr established his very own Whitby Jet jewellery boutique and W Hamond first opened its doors.
Following Victoria's death there was a surge in demand for Whitby Jet and the small coastal town became world famous for its craftsmanship and the quality of jet from the North Yorkshire coastline.
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The museum is a fascinating place to see unique jet pieces close up - and to see modern-day designs, still painstakingly made by craftsmen in the Whitby workrooms.
Albert's Eatery sits alongside the museum, but you can also share your feast with a record-breaking piece of Whitby Jet, which lies in a glass case dividing the dining tables.
Staff have to learn their geology as well as their culinary knowledge - they tell you that this is the largest piece of jet gemstone in the world at a hefty 21ft long. It's now divided into smaller sections but up close you can see its surface encrusted with ammonites, millions of years old.
Having soaked up the history lesson, it's now time to dive into the less cerebral lesson of good food.
Albert's Eatery opens all day and in the evenings Wednesday to Saturday. The menu is ideal for all. You can go for seafood blowout, sample daily specials featuring freshly caught fish from the boats or just go easy with the very real and simple pleasure of a Whitby crab sandwich (£7.50).
In the kitchen there's a talented team working to create solid classics as well as inventive main dishes making the best of local produce and the fresh fish landed a seashell's throw away.
We learn from a regular that the creamy seafood chowder served with warm soda bread (£7.95) is a thing to behold. There are tempting sounding dishes such as dressed crab salad (£13.95), or fillet of salmon with samphire (£12.95). Plenty of meat options too, such as a gourmet burger or sirloin steak
But we struggle to stray from surf and are tempted by the seafood platter (£50 for two from the evening menu),
It brings the blessings of the sea, as you'd hope. Serve it fresh, serve it simple and let the ingredients sing. That's precisely what the kitchen does.
We dip into oysters, chunky prawns, half a lobster, a very delicious dressed crab, smoked and hot salmon as well as gutsy crab claws. Lovely. Salad leaves and samphire add some earthy freshness to the grazing plate too.
We share a taste of chef Bryce Gibson's daily fish special, a lovely chunk of the freshest hake. Perfectly cooked so it was still slightly translucent, it was accompanied by the sweetest tiny carrots, a sweep of carrot puree and the silkiest white truffle pomme puree.
Food is impressive, surroundings are splendid and the welcome from maitre'd, Daniel Costi, is memorable. We suspect Queen Victoria would, in this case, be very amused by Albert's.
Wesley Hall, Church Street, Whitby YO22 4DE