I must have driven past Harpers at Staxton a hundred times and never thought to venture in – until now.
Having heard good things about the restaurant, I decided to cast the thought from my mind that it was just a tourist stop-off on the A64 and take the plunge.
The restaurant has a sizeable car park and a separate takeaway, which was quite busy as we arrived midweek at 7pm.
The restaurant itself was quiet, but on a Wednesday night in term time, I didn’t expect it to be packed.
We all commented on how attractive the interior was, with bright, modern decor and a large tropical fish tank.
Harpers has a pretty impressive menu, with a large selection of fish dishes along with plenty of choices for those who fancy something different.
Starters are priced at around the £5 mark, with choices such as prawn cocktail (£5.45), home-made fishcakes (£5.20) and garlic mushrooms (£4.50).
We went straight to the mains, where three of our group were tempted by the jumbo haddock (£11.50).
For fish and chip fans, options include small cod and chips, with salad (£8.90) and a larger size cod for £10.95.
Also on the menu are fish pie (£10.95), haddock mornay (£10.95) and salmon en croute (£12.50).
Non fish dishes include hunter’s chicken (£12.95), gammon steak (£10.50) and mushroom and spinach lasagne (£9.95).
Harpers also offers a Staxton Special for £10.50, which includes haddock and chips, bread and butter, tartar sauce plus tea or coffee.
We noticed that some of the other diners had gone for the senior citizens’ special, which is available every day and is good value at £8.95.
It includes fish and chips, bread and butter, a pot of tea and your choice of dessert – ice cream, fruit crumble or strawberry pavlova.
Our food arrived quickly, and was met by gasps of surprise when we saw the size of the jumbo haddock – which was actually two sizeable fillets of fish.
My scampi, chips and salad (£9.50) was tasty and a decent size, without being over the top. It was piping hot and the home-made chips were not greasy at all.
The others all enjoyed their jumbo haddock, commenting on the crisp, non-greasy batter and succulent fish, but adding that they may go for “large” instead of jumbo next time!
The only way I think the meal could be improved is by providing a more generously sized pot of tartar sauce per person and offering the choice of salad or peas, as three of us wanted mushy peas which had to be added as an extra (£1.20).
The service, though very polite, could have been a little quicker, as some of us were waiting a while for drinks.
Rather full after the main meal, which we dubbed “man vs fish”, I was the only person to order dessert. Choices included apple pie, banoffee pie, cheesecake and treacle sponge, all £3.95.
I ordered a strawberry meringue sundae (£4.95), which was lovely, with good quality ice cream, fresh strawberries and a light, crisp meringue.
The meal for four, with drinks, cost £66.50, which was great value.
Ratings out of ten: Food 8; menu choice 8; service 7; decor 8; ambience 7; overall 8.