Dining Out: Penny Hedge, Whitby

The Penny Hedge, Whitby.
The Penny Hedge, Whitby.

Penny Hedge, Whitby

Whitby is famed for its quirky charm. Traditions date back centuries, and none more so than the Penny Hedge - the ceremonial planting of twigs reputedly started as penance for three noblemen who killed a hermit in an act of jealousy.

The custom has taken place in the upper harbour since 1159, with hundreds gathering to watch the hedge planting crafted from sticks and leaves once a year.

In fact, this year’s version is still standing strong, despite taking place in May. So is Marston’s pub, the namesake of the age-old event, a strong option filled with tradition? Not quite, but it’s worth a visit all the same.

I’d driven past The Penny Hedge on the way into Whitby probably hundreds of times, but only ever been in for a drink, so sampling the food on offer felt long overdue.

Upon entry I was pleased to see a slick modern interior, with a friendly gentleman ready to greet you. After informing him that we were here for food he instructed us to head up to the far end of the venue where we were told there were a few tables ready.

All seemed well until we got to the dining area, to find no tables were in fact ready.

After an uncomfortable wait we sat down as another couple finished their meals, with their dishes still in situe, not a great start.

Shortly after clearing the table, we ordered some drinks and set about dissecting the menu, which offered a great selection to cater for most appetites.

However, this meant choosing a dish proved a challenge for my girlfriend Katie, for whom choice is always a challenge, “I’m not good at making decisions me,” has become one of her favourite phrases as we deliberate over what to have for tea.

I went for the Mac & Cheese (£7.75), while she chose the Tikka Masala (£8.95).

I’m a fan of onion and have nothing against it, but whoever wrote the macaroni cheese recipe must know something about them that I don’t, it was onion overload!

The pasta itself was topped with crispy onions, which felt like a slightly odd choice, but this was made stranger by the addition of spring onions.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, the plate came accompanied with...you guessed it, onion rings! Despite this, the dish was tasty and satisfying, but I’d just grown a bit tired of the onion taste by the time I’d finished.

Katie’s curry was a tasty portion size and packed a decent punch, with the addition of rice, a naan bread and a poppadom adding value for money and leaving us both full.

Overall, the couple of hiccups didn’t detract from an enjoyable evening in an atmospheric setting. There was a lot to like about it, let down only by a slightly shambolic opening.