What is it with Scarborough and naturalised Europeans? Georgio Alessio has been cooking up a storm for 15 years at Lanterna and now the Spaniards have landed. Well, not so much landed, as returned.
Conrad Diaz and his son Antonio (both married to local women) were a foodie presence in the town decades ago then flit to their native Menorca, presumably and understandably for some sun and to have a go there. For one reason or another it didn’t work out and back they’ve come.
This time they’ve colonised the magnificent Bethel Mission Chapel on the front at South Bay; as Phil and Kirsty are fond of saying, it’s all about location location location. It’s a handsome building on the rather dog-eared front next to a tacky seconds shop – blink and you’d be missing a trick. By day it’s disguised as a coffee shop – good coffee mind, from a gleaming hissing stainless steel monster (plus good cake).
But after the hoi polloi have departed for Middlesbrough and Redcar, it morphs into a pretty cool, sophisticated restaurant.
Father and son have spent a king’s ransom on gussying it up and they’ve done a good job; it’s a curious hybrid of lofted chapel and post-industrial steel and glass but it works; there’s a funky leather banquette downstairs and on the mezzanine floor... well, tables and chairs I guess – truth is I didn’t really notice as the astounding view out of the floor to ceiling window at the front end stole my attention first off, and continued to do so for the rest of the evening. Gazing out across the harbour, it’s easy to imagine yourself by an Italian lake, or looking over the sea in some cool Mediterranean resort, particularly if a bit of pink appears in the sky and the rain stops momentarily. Which it did.
A short menu features pizza and steak; an incongruous choice given the owners are Spanish and you can watch fish being landed from where you sit. To be fair they had a local crab cocktail on earlier but the bank holiday hoards ate it all up. I guess they’ve held focus groups and come up with a menu that people want.
Half a dozen starters include Calamares a la Romana, Scottish smoked salmon and prawns and garlic bread pizza; there’s no wonder I’m having a geography crisis.
Our delightful waitress Juliet, a veteran of four whole days, is an absolute asset to the business. I’m not sure if an award exists for Best Front of House, but let’s create one and give it to her. Friendly without being intrusive, she looked after us (and all the other diners) with charm, efficiency and a stunning smile. In fact, service throughout was exemplary; I was particularly smitten with a local lass who came up to ask us the inevitable, “is everything ok with your meal tonight?” which I hereby pronounce a moratorium on in favour of “are y’ havin’ a good time?” which she came out with instead.
Classic tomato and mozzarella salad is just as it should be, the tomatoes vine ripened, not too cold and the cheese plentiful. Garlic bread with tomato is side-plate sized, thin crust and fine, but imaginatively priced at a fiver.
Mains-wise there’s a choice of a sirloin or fillet steak (“supplied locally by Stepney Hill Farm and matured for a minimum of 21 days”) a Business Burger Gourmet (what?) and chargrilled free range chicken breast. On the specials card is the snaffled crab cocktail, roast salmon fillet and jumbo scampi served with Antons tartare sauce. The scampi are fat and juicy but the batter disappointingly limp. Another minute in the deep fat fryer should do it.
My sirloin is perfectly cooked, tender and full of taste, not a scrap was left. Again, another flash in the fryer will result in crispier chips.
The pudding list is short, but includes Crèma Catalana (hooray! A Spanish dish!) and is silky smooth, eye-rollingly luxurious and a great finish.
The atmosphere’s friendly and fun, the building’s been thoughtfully done up and the views astonishing; it’s only a matter of time before the menu creeps up a little to join the list.
Anton’s, 20 Sandside, Scarborough, YO11 1PE. 01723 381445, www.antonscafebar.com