If there are two things my mid-twenties has taught me – it’s that life is too short to drink bad gin, and paying an extra 50p for Fever Tree tonic is absolutely justifiable.
Yes, for those visiting Whitby for the day, not having fish and chips is like going to KFC and not having chicken. However, Rusty Shears is a true hidden gem (cliché alert) catering to those with a taste for nutritious home cooked food, good cake, and a good G&T.
I visited Rusty Shears last week during an annual ‘Whitby weekender’ with my best friends from uni. Whenever I visit my hometown now, a coffee or lunch at Rusty Shears has become part of a Saturday ritual.
The cafe does the ‘twee’ Cath Kidston-esque china cups and antique cutlery thing, but with its own, garish edge (by that I mean taxidermy, and a ‘graveyard’ of smashed tea cups in the garden labeled ‘tea cups rest in pieces’).
I’ve obviously visited on numerous occasions, but never had I tried any of the 160 gins available on the menu, so what better occasion than to go with the girls?
To start, we sat in the autumnal sunshine outside and had lunch. I always take forever to decide what to have at Rusty Shears – the specials board usually includes a couple of homemade tarts and pasties, a lot of vegetarian options (falafel, beetroot burger, mushroom on toast), and local dishes such as dressed Whitby crab and pork pie from a nearby butchers.
My friend and I decided to share the vegetarian homemade dips board. For £11.95 it includes homemade garlicky humus, lovely smoky baba ganoush, a coarse mushroom pate, olives, cornichon, salad, and toasted pitta breads. We both agreed, very good value and a considerable size.
Moving inside, we felt obliged to try at least one of the incredible array of cakes on offer. We chose the Key lime pie, and brownie between three of us. The Key lime pie had the perfect satisfyingly tangy lime and condensed milk layer, and a ginger biscuit base. The brownie was devilishly squidgy and rich – how a good brownie should be.
On to the gin tasting. Rusty (the owner), has a clear personal passion for gin, and has carefully and very admirably put together an extensive menu of 160 gins. Each is served with the optimum dressings to compliment the flavour of the gin. For £14.95, you can choose any three gins with a Fever Tree tonic.
As we were so comfortable, we decided to stay a couple of hours, and select three each (we hadn’t quite anticipated the quantity of gin and factored in the fact that some were up to 50% alcohol volume!). Understandably, selecting three gins from a menu of 160 is tricky. In the end, our approach was to select ones from our respected regions (contesting the Manchester Gin and Whittaker’s Yorkshire Gin just had to be done).
A thing of beauty, the three gins are served on a tray with one tonic.
A little overwhelmed, we would sip each one trying to decipher which was our favourite. Mine, was the Whittaker’s gin, which had a lovely old fashioned bitter gin flavour, served with juniper berries. Other memorable picks were the Hoxton – from the ‘sweet’ section. It had a subtle coconut flavour, served with my favourite, pink grapefruit.
Recommending any of the gins is a somewhat wasted task when there are 160 to choose from! So all I can advise is, that you go and try them for yourself.
…And after that, you’ll be glad to know we had a nap.
Rusty Shears is on 4 Silver Street, Whitby. (They don’t have a website, but you can call to book a table: 01947605383)