Towering tastes

In the second of our series on the tastiest places to eat out that will also please your wallet, food writer Ruth Allan is in Blackpool

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England’s favourite resort specialises in holiday food. Fluffy candyfloss and face-sized lollies. Red ketchup and fat chips. So with this in mind, I decided to see if it was possible to find really great versions of the stuff you eat when you’re on the pier or riding the rickety Wild Mouse rollercoaster at the Pleasure Beach. This being the noughties, modern British grub gets a look-in too. The Michelin and Harden rated Hastings, for example, in nearby Lytham St Anne’s, is one of the best gastropubs in the north. But taking a different tack turned out to be worth it, and I felt like I got to experience another side of this destination popular since Victorian times through curry, ice cream and chips. Great fun.


Founded in 1937, Notarianni’s family-owned ice cream parlour has hardly changed at all. Running along the top of the takeaway hatch, the sign is made from bold, newsy letters while inside the décor is simply vanilla. A nice touch, it turns out, as that’s the only flavour on offer. House special is a wafer cone with ice cream dunked on one side in pink sherbet, the other in green, making the Italian flag (£1.65). The Oyster

(£1.65) is made from two wafers dipped in chocolate with desiccated coconut and a ball of gooey marshmallow inside. Delicious but hard to eat, we soon discovered. Milk comes from a local supplier and the family produces 50 gallons of ice cream every other day. With ice cream this good they don’t need to offer much choice but fruity sundaes are available to eat in (the kiwi and strawberry is a bestseller at £3.95), and they do a melted mozzarella and tomato panini for £3.20. The only other place I’ve been to like this was the grade II listed Pellicci’s café in Bethnal Green. Another gem from a different era.

Ices from £1.65, sandwiches £3.20, tea and coffee from 85p, 9 Waterloo Road, FY4 1AF, 01253 342510,


Quilligans and West Coast Rock Café are two of Blackpool’s most popular family diners. New arrival Toast comes out top online, though, with a Taste Lancashire Highest Quality Assured certificate to prove that local ingredients are used when and where possible. The copper and laminate interior would be forgettable were it not for the huge windows, bathing both tiers in coastal light. Indian, Chinese, Spanish, and Italian themed meals are available and the seats around us filled up time and again over the Sunday lunch hour. It’s not the place to savour your roast vegetable wrap (good size and variety, let down just a tad by margarine-y flavour, £5.95); perhaps more of a chow-and-back-to-the casino kind of joint, but the chicken and chorizo skewers crafted from fine hunks of pan-fried Spanish sausage (£6.45) suggested the tapas menu would be worth exploring. A glass of chardonnay was a chilled companion. We lookedelsewhere (see Notariannis) for dessert, as most are bought in.

Soup £3.95, mains £6-£12, 28 Corporation Street, FY1 1EJ, 01253 749777,


The opening of AA Rosette-winning curry house Jali on Blackpool’s seafront doesn’t appear to have affected Curry Queen. In fact, things haven’t changed at this local favourite for a while. A worn floral carpet lies underfoot, while random prints of earth decorate the walls. Taking advice from the helpful maître d, I went for a garlicky tarka dhal (£2.95), mirch murgh (thick, oily curry of tandoori chicken, red firebrand chilli and mince. Aromatic and burgundy, it’s as spicy as the colour would suggest, £7.50) and a chickpea puree (£3.10). Naan (there’s a range of options, from £1.70) was satisfyingly chewy, rice cloud-soft (£1.80). Most customers seemed to know the staff and their special deal – the Mumbai Banquet, four courses for £9.95 – is hard to beat. A big neon banner outside proclaims Curry Queen “the restaurant with personality”. If they mean friendly and extremely good value by this, they’ve got it spot on. Ideal for dining with friends after a day at the beach.

Prices start at around £2.95 for starters, £5.20 for mains, 49-51 Red Bank Road, FY2 9HX, 01253 590 044,


The grade I-listed Ballroom gives pride of place to a Wurlitzer organ dating from 1935 and some of Britain’s best amateur dancers as gold-leaf decked viewing galleries swirl around the space, under names of composers like Liszt and Elgar. It costs £9 to enter the ballroom, rather than watch from the balcony. This sounds a lot, but it turned out to be one of our favourite parts of the trip. Taken beside the dancefloor, a high tea of little ham sandwiches and overly uniform scones with packet butter and pre-packed jam (£6.50) was a meal in itself. More scones, jam and a hot drink (£2.95) make up the better value cream tea. Toffee gateau, blueberry and cream cheese cake and Victoria sponge made at Latham’s bakers in Southport are worth a nibble as the dancers bob by, while sandwiches, such as egg salad, start at £3.25. As we supped americanos, two ageing sisters danced the chacha-cha in matching, sequined shoes. It was like entering a delightful parallel universe for a while.

Tea and coffee from £1.45, sandwiches £3.25, two coffees and a cake, £6.20. Blackpool Tower, The Promenade, Blackpool, 01253 622 242,


Don’t be misled by this chippy’s country cottage looks. It’s as spacious as Dr Who’s Tardis and just as techno-savvy (beeping thermometers, glistening fryers) inside. Specials are listed on the pristine chalkboard to the left as you walk in and, in an attempt to eat sustainably, I had the skate wing special (two arm-length pieces, £5) plus five fish bites (£2.80), chips and thick, minted mushy peas. Nuggets of soft cod, the fish bites were as perfect as the fryer promised. He’d never done skate wings before, but showed a strong interest, asking me all sorts of questions. I could have had hake, turbot, cod or haddock and your favourites are available in a range of sizes too: small, medium, large and “big catch”. Batter is freshly applied, everything fried to order. The experience is like visiting a particularly luxurious bathroom, or getting into your newly valeted car. Something everyday that’s giving you all it’s got. Oh, and you can eat in too for around £1 extra.

Cod with chips and mushy peas, £3.20-£9.50, 31 Newhouse Road, Marton, Blackpool, Lancashire FY4 4JH, 01253 764081,

Last time, Ruth visited Bradford, see what she thought here. Next, she visits Hull.

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