Feeling foodie? 5 scrummy secrets of the Virgin Trains East Coast route

From a Sunday Times Top 10 restaurant in a Grantham living room to fresh lobster on the dramatic Northumberland coast – there’s plenty of fun for foodies along our route...

The East Coast Main Line travels from Inverness in northern Scotland to London in the south – taking in some of the country’s best-known foodie destinations on its way.

Catch the tasty train with 5 of our fave restaurants along the route…

 Norse - credit Dan Oxtoby

Photo credit - Dan Oxtoby

1. Norse

Scandinavia is all the rage – from food and furniture to fashion. And there aren’t many better places to try grub cooked in traditional ‘Scandi’ ways.

By day Norse is a coffee shop, but after dark it is transformed into a cool, laid-back eatery with a unique approach to food.

Nordic techniques like curing, pickling, fermenting and dehydrating are all at play. The menu is made up of small plates, and you eat either a 4 or 8-course meal.

Interestingly, the price you pay for your meal depends on when you eat – whether it’s a busy Friday night or a quiet Tuesday afternoon, for example.

The owners say this is a bit like buying an advanced train ticket – where you can get a better-value deal when there’s less demand.

So what’s on the menu? Think cod served with sea veg, apple and dill or pork with oyster and peas. Each course is served with wine painstakingly selected to complement the grub to a soundtrack of folky far-North music.

No wonder it’s in the 2016 Michelin Guide.

Where to find it: Harrogate, North Yorkshire  

How much? ££

Book your table at Norse

 

2. Harry’s Place

Harry’s Place takes 10th spot in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants in Britain, above the likes of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck.

So what’s the story? Harry’s Place is a family-run operation with Harry Hallam as head chef and his wife Caroline running front of house.

It’s based in the family’s converted farmhouse in rural Lincolnshire.

Each day they do 1 sitting at lunch and 1 in the evening - each for just 12 hungry people - in their tiny dining room. It’s very cosy, with scrubbed wooden tables and handwritten menus offering 2 choices per course.

The food is serious but simple modern-European. The menu changes with the seasons, with pheasant and suchlike during the game season, and there’s fish every day.

Harry is known for his boozy sauces. Think sautéed brill with Pernod sauce or salmon with vodka crème fraiche. Harry’s expertise and deftness of touch shine through everything – this is grub knocked up by a bloke who seriously knows his stuff.

Where is it? Great Gonerby, Grantham

How much? £££

Book a table: 01476 561780 

 

3. The Raby Hunt Restaurant Another of the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants in Britain (number 17), the Raby Hunt in County Durham serves visionary food in an idyllic setting.

It’s the brainchild of former professional golfer turned Michelin-starred chef, James Close. After tasting the food you’ll be thankful he swapped argyle sweaters for chef’s whites.

The food served at this rural 19th-century inn is clever and scientific. You can eat a 5 or 10-course tasting menu made up of delights like oyster from nearby Lindisfarne served with cucumber and dill and raw beef stuffed in a cleaned-out bone and served with basil and black truffle.

It’s seriously foodie, seriously fabulous.

Where is it? Summerhouse, near Darlington, County Durham 

How much? £££

Book at the Raby Hunt

 

4. Beaches Restaurant

You’ll find the family-run Beaches in the picture-postcard fishing village of Alnmouth in Northumberland.

It’s all about locally-sourced seasonal grub, either cooked traditionally or with a nod to countries like America or France (the family are keen travellers).

Seafood from off the Northumberland coast is a specialty. Find locally-caught lobster and crab in June, and hake and sole throughout the summer.

The family behind the restaurant have been cooking for a living since the 1950s.

The vibe is laid-back, unfussy and definitely not pretentious. The small, cosy dining room feels like enjoying dinner at a good friend’s place. Posh plates and napkins are eschewed for hearty grub and belly laughs.

You can bring your own booze too.

Where is it? Alnmouth, Northumberland

How much? ££

Book a table at Beaches

 

5. Lebaneat

Among the knotty cobbled streets of this historic Cathedral city sits a Lebanese restaurant causing quite a stir.

Locals rave about Lebaneat and its vibrant, colourful food that seems almost too loud for this tranquil place.

Lebanese food is all about spiced, slow-cooked meats and dips made with aubergine and chickpeas – ripe for plunging warm pita into. 

We love the mixed starter made up of hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, halloumi and more. The chargrilled lamb, chicken and king prawns are OMG too.

Where to find it? Durham, County Durham

How much? ££

Book your tablet at Lebaneat

 

Feeling hungry? Book your tickets to the place you’d most like to eat dinner.