Join our editor-at-large as he samples the delicious fare at Passage to India in Whitby.
Along the Harbourside, a short walk from the newly restored and moored Captain Cook replica ship, The Endeavour, away from the frenzy of hungry seagulls plotting a raid on idle tourists’ fish and chips, is a celebrated Whitby institution. Hidden toward the end of a neat row of houses, opposite the train station, is a place of cultural importance that doesn’t feature on many of the usual tourist maps nor guides. A place that in its modest and humble way has earned the love and loyalty of locals and tourists alike. Step off the platform, cross the taxi rank and you will indeed find yourself face to face with a Passage to India Whitby.
A Whitby Tradition
Whitby is famed for its fish and chips; scampi, crab, cod – all these are hugely popular perennial favourites and are always top of the list for visitors to this historic port town. Yet there’s a restaurant that is part of the fabric of the town, in much the same way as the Magpie Cafe or the Abbey. Its hard to imagine Whitby without a curry house. What town would be complete without one? Whether you’re seeking an early snack for two, a family meal to celebrate a birthday or after a big feed after a night on the tiles, the curry house is always there when you need it. We dined on a busy Thursday night after a long drive up from Stafford.
We’d made the journey to come to Whitby to celebrate the summer solstice at Saltwick Bay. Another popular website had recommended Saltwick Bay as a special place to see the sunrise and set into the sea – a rare phenomena that occurs during the longer summer months off the North Yorkshire Coast, particularly at Whitby. We took a table in the middle of the main restaurant, admiring the ambient lighting and the subtly Eastern decor. The waiters came to take our order. We hadn’t even looked at the menu. “Can we have a few more minutes, please? We’ll take a couple of mango lassi to drink.”
A Solstice Feast
At length we got to grips with the starters and found that the selection was both extensive and interesting. I’d had a fancy for some fried deliciousness for some days and the choice at the Passage did not disappoint. We ordered the Aloo Bora and Onion Bhajee with a couple of poppadoms to start.
The aloo bora was a magnificent victory for taste and flavour; the creamy mash perfectly fluffy and complimented well with the hearty spinach goodness; the crispy breaded shell was a joy to munch through – this was exactly what I had in mind – the sort of starter that makes Indian food the cuisine of choice for hungry vegetarians everywhere. The onion bhajee was similarly pleasant and nicely fried. Rather excellent with a little mango chutney and a drizzle of mint raita left over from the poppadum.
We took a further look at the menu between photographs to order a couple of mains and sides – we’d committed to a veg and fish menu to see how well the chefs knew their way around the kitchen. A good Indian restaurant can knock veg and fish dishes out of the park with the delicate spice combinations available to the experienced chef.
Some short time later we were presented with a King Prawn Suka; a flavoursome feast of a half dozen large butterflied prawns cooked in a tangy sauce; tamarind and honey for that sweet and sour punchiness; a paneer matar with chickpeas, and a couple of breads; a peshwari naan and a garlic naan. The suka chosen from the specialty menu was excellent; the sweetness of the prawns contrasting with sour tang of the tomato sauce.
The paneer was presented with chickpeas in a spicy sauce which made a pleasant change from the usual green pea matar paneer dish found elsewhere. This side dish was generously filling and so ended up in a doggy bag along with a couple of triangles of the crisp-sweet-soft-doughy-delicious naan breads. A tasty treat to be enjoyed on the beach next day.
This place may not be on the well trodden tourist track, like many of the popular restaurants and bars, but for curry lovers seeking satiation, a temple of spicy delights awaits the intrepid traveller at a Passage to India.