Scholars bar & Cellar bar, Scarborough

Scarbro harbour barI love Scarborough, as a kid we went there on holiday every year, along with half of the West Riding and for some reason, half of Scotland too. This is the first of three posts which detail my account of a Saturday walk around Scarborough and it’s pubs. I picked some of my choices from the handy York CAMRA Scarborough pub guide, you can print off a useful little map. If I’m honest, I’m probably guilty of hitting the boozers with the biggest range of ales, rather than those that may be really good pubs which only have a couple of standards on. I make no apologies though, as it was my day out and I wanted to try as many ‘different’ ales as possible. Lets face it, wherever you live you can go into a decent sort of place with a couple of traditional bitters on any day.

The first bar wasn’t a pub at all. It was only 10.30am so we visited the, never changed in years institution that is the Harbour Bar. All glass cups of coffee, milkshakes, yellow waitresses, formica, chrome and Knickerbocker glories. This place is a living shrine to sixties popular culture and a must visit (if you can manage to find a seat). I went for banana milk shake, winding the clock back forty years, it tasted of sand, Clarke’s sandals, short trousers, grey socks and a bar stool so high your legs dangled in mid air.

After a nice walk round the harbour we could have called in the sea front Golden Lion. The main bar has probably the best outlook in Scarborough, it’s Sam Smith’s cheap prices and a bit like what I imagine drinking in the captains cabin of a parked up old galleon to be like. When you go in keep right, don’t go up the stairs to the left into the area where you can take kids, it’s dismal.

The first port of call spoiled it for everywhere else. I should have saved North Riding Brew Pub till the end, it deserves, and will get it’s own write up.

Scarbro ScholarsScholars is just on the edge of the centre. It’s a one room, but with distinct areas, sort of place, if you see what I mean. There’s a bar, a bit with a pool table, separate areas of seating round the side and front and then a big vertical drinking area in the middle. Inside everything is immaculate, a lot of varnished wood, floors, half panelled walls, the lot. The toilets got a 9/10. It’s obviously professionally run and it would have been good if there had been a few more people in. Maybe it’s my day time drinking habit, I don’t know, but with only a handful of people and some tinny piped music, on Saturday afternoon it was lacking in the atmosphere department. Scarbro Scolars OTBIt needs a revisit later on in the day to properly assess, it must get busy though because they had quite a good selection of beers, which tended towards traditional real ale styes rather than modern cutting edge stuff. Prices were between £2.95 to £3.30 a pint. Cider drinkers take note, they had as good a selection as you will get anywhere. I plumped for a Slightly Foxed Urban Fox. I hadn’t tried this 4.8% porter before. Maybe it wasn’t the drink for a hot day but in the cool vaults of Scholars it was very enjoyable and obviously well kept.

Scarbro CellarsIt’s quite a walk up the impressive Valley Road past late Victorian and Edwardian up market residences, many gothic, semi gothic and arts and crafts styles. Refreshingly, nearly all these were very well kept and still private residential dwellings, something which can’t be said for some parts of Scarbrough. Cellars Bar is a converted basement underneath a big old house. The upper floors are holiday apartments now. When you step inside it’s got the feel of a country pub, nicely decorated and well kept. Outside there are a few tables and chairs, although most of the frontage is car parking. There’s only five people in at 3.00pm Saturday which is a shame as a lot of the town centre pubs, the ones selling industrial lager around the £2.00 mark were heaving. Cellars Bar prices were around £3.20 a pint for real ale and Monday to Thursday you could get a pint for £2.90 before seven.

Scarbro cellars bar

Looking around, there’s a big music theme and regular forthcoming turns were advertised. I was offered a try before you buy taster, Salamander Albino Armadillo turned out to be really silky in the mouth, biscuity with a bitter finish. I could have chosen any one of five others from Bradfield brewery, Camerons (it’s their traditional catchment and tied house area), Daleside, Isle of Purbeck (I once went to a super beer festival at The Bankes Arms), or North Yorkshire brewing. Despite the number of beers and lack of customers I couldn’t fault the quality of the beer. If I lived in Scarborough this is the sort of pub I would visit often.

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