Eating out: Tank and Skinny's Seaside in Buncrana
Tank and Skinny’s Seaside, Swilly Road, Buncrana, Co Donegal
CHILDHOOD summers were long and hot, so they say. The days were endless. Children laughed delightedly as they gambolled through sun-beaten fields, safe in their innocent fun. Mothers finally herded the children in for their tea through back doors that were never locked. And the rain? Why, there wasn’t any.
Hmm. That’s not the way I remember it. My childhood summers were tepid, at best. The days always ended, unlike the games of Monopoly, which stretched to infinity and beyond, unless they never started because of the fight over who got to be the battleship.
Mothers locked the back door behind them as they slipped out unnoticed for five minutes’ peace. And the rain? Why, it bucketed down, usually heaviest during our annual trip up the coast to Blackpool, where the days would be spent with eight of us squeezed into a Morris Marina, eating soggy egg sandwiches, squinting miserably through a bleary windscreen, listening for the rivets falling off the big dipper off at the nearby funfair.
Little has changed. With the blistering heat of earlier in the year now washed through memory’s sluice, any day when it’s not raining yet has to be considered a chance to grab a fistful of traditional summer fun – which, for me at least, means heading to the beach.
From Derry, so many beaches are within ludicrously easy reach. On this particular overcast day, we chose to go to the shores of Buncrana.
It mightn’t top everybody’s list, but there’s a cute little stretch of sand there and you’re also handy for the Swilly ferry.
As we parked up, the clouds started to carry out the threats they’d been making. It teemed down. Happily, we’d spotted a café, standing hard by the beach, just as the road bends towards the jetty.
Last time we were here, it wasn’t, so finding it was a nice surprise, and the niceness didn’t stop.
Tank and Skinny’s Seaside is a new venture by two brothers, one called Tank and the other called Skinny – hopefully not their real names – and builds on the success of their ventures in Muff.
The name is something of a misnomer, suggesting a jolly, bucket and spade, kiss-me-quick, fish, chips and 27 flavours of ice cream kind of a place.
In actual fact, it’s a bright and stylish café-cum-bistro, which changes tone and menu from early morning through lunch and into the evening.
To my mind, the lunch menu could do with a couple more hot meals, but there are plenty of tempting sandwiches to choose from, and no-one was complaining.
The coronation chicken wrap was the size of a small boulder, requiring not so much two hands as a baseball mitt. Impressed as I always am by quantity, a bit of quality never goes amiss, and this had it – a coop’s worth of tender chicken coated in just the right amount of curry mayonnaise, which was deceptively mild to start off with, before finishing with a pleasing heat.
The lasagne, accompanied, as all lasagnes should be, by delicious chips, was meaty, rich, well-seasoned and full of flavour, although it seemed to have only one layer and lacked a sheet or two of pasta.
There was too much pastry, but the sausage roll was quality nevertheless, the peppery pork complemented by a sweet and tangy onion marmalade. And the salad was really good, soft, crunchy, sweet, deep, earthy, sharp.
Judging by the queue for a table when we left, word of its high standards has spread fast. Don’t wait for rain to stop play, just say sayonara to soggy seaside sarnies!
Oh, and don’t leave without a traybake.
The bill (prices for three in Euros)
Coronation chicken wrap – €7.50
Lasagne and chips – €8.90
Red onion marmalade sausage roll – €2.50
Small goats cheese, pear, and walnut salad – €4.30
Bakewell tart – €3.30
Chocolate brownie – €3.30
White chocolate and Crunchie cheesecake – €3.80
San Pellegrino – €1.90
Diet Coke – €1.60
Total: €37.10 (£35.08)