Old Lamp Room, Cottingham: The cute little restaurant housed in a Yorkshire village train station

Situated on Platform 2 of Cottingham station, the Old Lamp Roomis a beacon among other train station offerings. Dave Leediscovers a fun, good value and effervescent little restaurant.

It’s a little-known fact that, for a short while, I lived in Cottingham. It’s a perfectly pleasant place with some lovely houses, good local shops, a couple of decent pubs and quite a few residents who insist on using the ‘largest village in England’ title without offering any definitive proof for the claim and who you can merrily engage in pointless, pedantic debate about the difference between large villages and small towns.

I’ve used the train station in Cott a fair few times. It’s a cheap way to nip into Hull as the journey only takes about six minutes.

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Until last week, though, I’d no idea that Cottingham station was home to one of the cutest little restaurants in the East Riding.

Old Lamp Room in CottinghamOld Lamp Room in Cottingham
Old Lamp Room in Cottingham

The Old Lamp Room sits within - you’ve guessed it - the former lamp room on platform 2 and is a tightly-packed, tiny triumph.

If you can get a seat (and that is quite an achievement in itself) you’ll find three small rooms, separated by a fireplace wall; three waiting staff making drinks, taking orders, handling payments and doing the washing up in a space little larger than a pool table and, barely visible through a small hatch, two chefs handling all the cooking and whatnot. Sitting at one of the squeezed-in 25 seats, you’ll notice the walls are lined with busts of zebras and giraffes and other mis-matched oddities, including a beautiful tile map of the railway lines of the East Riding. The phrase ‘compact and bijou’ has rarely been more applicable.

It’s the ongoing project of owner Kasha Gravill, who took on the series of disused platform outbuildings in 2019 and entirely renovated all of them to turn into her dream project. One room had been a taxi office, another a ticket office. All were either derelict or as-good-as derelict and some corners hadn’t seen a broom or a lick of paint since they were built in the 1840s.

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The Old Lamp Room opened in early 2020, just in time to be turned into a takeaway operation for the length of the lockdowns.

Inside the Old Lamp Room in CottinghamInside the Old Lamp Room in Cottingham
Inside the Old Lamp Room in Cottingham

In the morning (they open at 9am for breakfasts and brunch) people come and go rapidly. The morning’s menu features, as you’d expect, plenty of bacon and sausage and egg options but there are also a couple of more refined offerings, including an excellent shakshouka, something called The Red One – Romescu sauce on house focaccia served with soft boiled eggs and dukkah – and the dish I’m trying next time I visit, Green Eggs and Ham. Pesto, apparently, provides the advertised verdancy along with ham, feta and fried eggs.

Around 11.30am, when the menu switches to lunch, traffic becomes noticeably heavier. The good folk of Cottingham clearly know a good thing when they see it, and The Old Lamp Room fills to the brim until doors close at 4pm. Booking is a necessity.

Among the starters and lighter dishes, I’ve tried homemade focaccia and dips - which turned out to be a single dish filled with more Romescu, spinach hummus and a covering of feta and rocket leaves - and kale crisps and spicy chickpeas, which mixed together marvellously leaving me wondering if I could replicate them in my airfryer at home.

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On the mains section, but still not a heavy plateful, sourdough crumpets come topped with a cheese rarebit and an accompanying Waldorf salad. I couldn’t discern any grape in the salad (so not quite fulfilling the Waldorf brief), but the cheesy crumpets were such a savoury delight I didn’t care.

Belly pork, black pudding, mash and red cabbageBelly pork, black pudding, mash and red cabbage
Belly pork, black pudding, mash and red cabbage

The Old Lamp Room has just started opening for night-time supper clubs and has been running extremely popular Sunday lunches for a good while. It was these that seems to have influenced a main on the specials board of belly pork, black pudding, mash and red cabbage. It may not sound particularly special but, like so many of the dishes, it was excellent. And this is what I like most about the restaurant Kasha has created; everything is much better than it really needs to be. When you read the menu, all the dishes appear relatively simple and straightforward, but every one of them is either tastier or larger or more imaginative than a little diner on the end of a railway platform really needs to make them.

Nowhere is this more noticeable than with desserts. Kasha used to run her own cake company and still bakes them all herself. There are usually at least three or four huge confections on display and they are all wonderful. So vast was my slice of apple crumble and cinnamon cake that I couldn’t finish it and I was left offering the waitress a look that forlornly said ‘I’m sorry, I have failed you.’

Other options - like the banoffee ice cream sundae and, my absolute favourite, spiced apricot bread and butter pudding with vanilla custard – are just as good or better. It’s actually worth taking an unnecessary train journey just to sample them.

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There’s a photo book kept near the till illustrating all the hard work that went into converting these unused and unloved buildings into a bustling and thriving enterprise. It’s pulled out and passed round with much pride whenever someone shows some interest. When most train stations these days house drab, expensive, humourless chain coffee franchises or bland sandwich or pasty operations, The Old Lamp Room serves as a beacon. This marvellous, independent, fun, good value, effervescent, little restaurant is exactly what we need on all railway stations. Everywhere there is public transport, in fact. You’d do more stopping than driving if motorway service stations offered pitstops of such joy. Kasha and her team deserve all their success and long may this lamp room shine this brightly.

Welcome 5/5

Food 4/5

Atmosphere 5/5

Prices 5/5

The Old Map Room, Platform 2, Cottingham Station, Cottingham, HU16 4LL. www.theoldlamproom.com

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