MAXINE GORDON widens her net for a birthday meal in Whitby

WHITBY is one of our favourite destinations for a day out. In recent years, to mark our daughter's mid-summer birthday, we have been combining a walk on the coastal path with fish and chips in Whitby.

Normally, we head for the Magpie. Last year, we tried Andrew Pern's just-opened Star Inn the Harbour. But this year, my daughter fancied somewhere different.

A quick trawl on Tripadviser uncovered The Moon & Sixpence, a bistro overlooking the harbour. Online, I secured a table for six of us, requesting a table with a good view. When we turned up at teatime the following day after a gorgeous, if tiring, walk from Hawsker to Robin Hood's Bay, we were delighted to be placed at a long table in the window, giving us a view of the water and the bustlings outside.

The Moon & Sixpence is a lively place, with pop music playing in the background (but not too loud), and a 2-for-1 cocktail menu served from 4-6pm.

This appealed to mum and me and we each ordered a Jamaican Mule (£8.50) – a mix of spiced rum, lime and ginger beer. Granddad had a pint of Black Sheep (£4.20), while my daughter and her chum had a Diet Coke (£2.90 each). My husband, who was driving, stuck to water.

Their drinks arrived in good time, but mum and me waited what seemed like an age for our cocktails. Were they worth the wait? Not really. Served in a plain glass with little garnish – we even had to ask for a straw – they looked unexciting and the taste was unmemorable too. Note to readers: try the wine if you go!

The menu had plenty of choice without being over-facing. We chose just one starter dish to share – tempura cauliflower (£8). When it eventually arrived (with the main meals rather than as an appetiser because of a kitchen mix-up) it was absolutely delicious and the dish of the day. The cauliflower florets were golf-ball size, but completely tender inside, while the batter was lovely and light. The spicy sauce on the side was a great contrast.

It was one of the nicest things I had eaten in a restaurant for a long time – and would happily have eaten the whole bowl myself.

Instead, I chose fish and chips (well someone had to). It was good, if not outstanding. The cod beneath the crispy batter was as glistening white as a perfect smile, and lovely and moist too, showing it had been cooked well. The chips, mushy peas and tartar sauce were perfectly acceptable. I liked that it came in two sizes: regular for £11 or large at £15 – I found the regular portion was adequate for me.

Both grandparents chose the gumbo (£17) and declared as "tasty" their bowls of rice with shrimp, cod, chorizo, tomato and okra.

My husband had the seabass (£18) – a generous plateful of "dirty chilli rice" with samphire, salsa and two fillets of Cajun blackened fish.

Birthday girl went for the chicken skewer with chorizo and garlic mayo which also came with tortilla wraps and a cabbage salad (£16), while her friend picked the Buddha bowl (£13) – a giant ensemble of goodness: sweetcorn, tomato, chick peas, carrot, crispy lettuce, pickled red cabbage and avocado. This can be topped with a choice of prawns, chicken, flat-iron steak or grilled halloumi. Our veggie friend chose the halloumi – and declared it all delicious, but far too much to eat.

Portions were generous, but then, the dishes were not cheap.

Stuffed, we ordered just two puddings, each digging in for a spoonful of sweetness before facing the car journey home.

Compared to the generosity of the main courses, the chocolate brownie (£5.50) was a meagre affair, with one half of it miserably thin. The ice-cream was top notch though. Normal serving size was resumed for the caramel sundae (£5.50) a gut-busting and wickedly delicious mix of vanilla ice-cream, caramel and chocolate sauce and mini pretzels giving an unusual but pleasant salty crunch.

The Moon & Sixpence wasn't perfect, but the food was tasty and it's a fun place to hang out. Best of all, it got the thumbs up from birthday girl.

The Moon & Sixpence, 16 Marine Parade, Whitby


T: 01947 604416


Food: Decent 3.5/5

Ambience: Lively 3/5

Value: OK 3/5

Service: OK 3/5

Reviews are independent and paid for by The Press