HELEN MEAD enjoys lunch on the waterfront near York.

BEING somewhat obsessed with boats, the idea of lunching at a marina was exciting to say the least.

Sadly, I don’t own one, but love watching them scud in and out of harbours, so I was eager to dine in the heart of such activities. Only this marina wasn’t anywhere near the sea – it was a mere four miles from York.

York Marina on the River Ouse outside Naburn has berths for 300 boats as well as a busy chandlery, caravan site and training centre for the Royal Yachting Association.

It also houses the Waterfront Café, a recently redeveloped and refurbished eaterie that offers fabulous views across the river.

A row of pleasure cruisers stood on dry land opposite the modern wood-clad building, with, to my delight, dozens more moored in the marina itself.

The Waterfront is clearly popular, with the large car park beginning to fill up as we arrived at around 12.30pm.

The expansion of what was a smaller café was completed a year ago, but a member of staff confided, “the wallpaper has only just gone up this week” .

Very nice it was too, delicate gold leaves on a teal background, to match the colour of the comfortable armchair-style seats and other decor.

With a mixture of different sized tables to accommodate diners from couples to larger groups, and a smart bar with industrial-style lighting, the interior looked stylish and welcoming.

A large wood-burning stove radiated heat at one end of the spacious room bordered along one side with bi-folding doors and those amazing river views.

We were shown to a table for two in a corner spot affording views both across and upstream towards York. Before the building of nearby Naburn Lock in the 1757, the river would have been tidal right up to the city.

Two fellow diners, sitting nearby, had just been served. Their gammon, fried egg and chips looked delicious. They had been coming for years, they told us, since the café was a very small affair, sharing space with the chandlery. “We tell everyone about it,” they gushed.

The extensive drinks menu offers everything from soft drinks to wine, beer and gin. My husband Andrew chose fresh apple juice (£2.80), while I drank water.

Menu choices range from sandwiches to light lunches and mains. Full English breakfasts are served up to midday.

Our orders were taken by a friendly waiter, with the food arriving soon after.

I chose my all-time favourite lunch of baked potato (£7.25). The ‘Yorkshire-grown’ potato - “that makes all the difference,” quipped my husband - was offered with a choice of fillings: tuna sweetcorn, baked beans, coleslaw or Yorkshire Cheddar.

I picked the tuna. I’m a bit of a baked potato connoisseur and was pleased to see that this one was large, oven baked with a slightly crisp skin, and a fluffy interior. The filling was plentiful and tasty and there had been no scrimping with the accompanying salad, which contained peppers, beetroot, tomato, cucumber, cabbage and onion.

Other light lunch choices include omelettes, steak sandwich and soup of the day, which was carrot.

Andrew opted for a main – scampi, skin-on fries and tartare sauce (£9.95). His scampi, he reported, was crisp on the outside and succulent inside. It too was served with a crunchy salad.

While my seat faced inside the café, Andrew watched the Ouse. There wasn’t much traffic on this cold January day but there were plenty of dog walkers on the opposite bank.

Two more diners arrived to sit at the table next to us. The row of two-seater tables are, I would say, a little too close together. Moving them slightly, if possible, would afford a little more privacy.

For afters we chose cakes from the mouthwatering selection on the bar – a slice of Gluten-free carrot cake (£3.50) for me, which I ate slowly to savour every moist, carroty mouthful, and a brownie (£2.95) with a “lovely soft caramel middle” for Andrew.

Many of the cakes are made by Pocklington-based Becky Mackenzie, who runs a home-made cake-making business.

There’s a good atmosphere in the café. Amy, from Barnsley, brought over our decaff tea (£2.50) and Americano coffee (£2.95).

She told us how her partner, café manager Tom, began working at the marina – which has been owned since 2006 by Phil and Pam Bleakley – as gardener, and how they all loved their newly-expanded surroundings.

Sunday lunches are clearly popular, as booking is required. Throughout the year the Waterfront hosts special events – coming up is Burns Night on January 25.

In summer, the doors fronting the river are open, with outdoor tables on the flagged patio and grassy riverbank for alfresco dining. I popped outside to take photographs, finding a large gazebo set out with tables. This is for dog walkers who fancy a snack and cuppa.

Inside I found a couple with their friendly Jack Russell/Schnauzer cross, about to drink their tea. “We’ve walked from Bishopthorpe,” they told me.

Our bill came to a reasonable £31.90.

We ended the day with a bracing walk to Naburn Lock. Perfect.

Waterfront Café, York Marina, Naburn, York YO19 4RW

T: 01904 621021

W: yorkmarina.co.uk.

FOOD: Tasty 4/5

AMBIENCE: Friendly 4.5/5

SERVICE: Excellent 4.5/5

VALUE: Good 4/5

Reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press