Eating Out: Take it easy at Tank & Skinny's
Tank & Skinny's,
21 Broad Road,
028 7777 8177
IT IS a big box, basically, in a car park, next to a petrol station and a Tesco Express. I was thinking just the other week about the spectacular views offered by so many restaurants in Ireland. This doesn't make the cut, unless you like gravel and a busy main road.
The view inside is much better, though. It's a warm, modern, and stylish place, done with thought and care, mixing bare brick, green and white letterbox tiles, blue-painted wood panels, and parquet flooring. There are steel beams overhead, and soft lighting.
This is the latest outpost of the Tank & Skinny empire. Having conquered Muff and won over Buncrana, they set their sights on Limavady, and have obviously been made welcome.
My brother and I nipped up here for lunch on a wet and ordinary Tuesday. It was near full when we arrived and packed by the time we left, buzzing with chatter and laughter.
We're not talking a fancy dining experience here. Once seated, you have to go to order at the counter at the far end from the entrance, and then the food is brought to your table.
My brother ordered the quiche Lorraine with chips and salad. I have recently attempted to tackle my alarming girth with regular trips to the gym, and so I went for the goat cheese, pear and walnut salad. It's possibly not all that healthy, but it does have the word 'salad' in the title, so that must count for something, mustn't it?
Although then I went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like, "And a red onion marmalade sausage roll, please..."
The quiche was delicious, a generously-sized individual pie, a deep, crisp pastry shell encasing creamy egg and plenty of salty bacon. The accompanying coleslaw, sprinkled with cous-cous, was fresh and crunchy and not drowning in mayonnaise at all, so you could actually taste the vegetables.
And the chips... they were great: proper chippy chips, golden and crisp with soft, sweet potato inside.
I should have asked for the dressing on the side with my salad. I really enjoyed it, but – and this is just a matter of personal taste – the dressing meant that the other ingredients had to fight a bit too hard for attention.
Nevertheless, the combination of sweet pear, creamy, salty goat cheese, and deep, autumnal walnut is pretty much guaranteed to be a winner, and this was no exception. The dressing, although I felt there was too much of it, was good and sharp, and the deep green leaves were dotted with full-of-flavour sun-dried tomatoes.
We shared the sausage roll. Reluctantly, it has to be said. The pastry was lovely and flaky, not in the least soggy, and the taste of the good quality pork was enhanced greatly by the rich, tangy, sweet onion marmalade.
I was a touch disappointed by the traybakes we took home with us - or one of them, anyway. The brownie was richly chocolatey, with a light, peppermint chocolate cream topping, just the thing with an afternoon cup of tea, but the Bakewell tart, while full of a delicious almond flavour, was a little on the dry side.
As we were finishing, three women entered, each with a baby in a pram. I was snooty about the location earlier.
That's not the non sequitur it appears to be. I was wrong to be snooty. The location is perfect, because people can get to it easily and there's easy parking right on the door step.
That means mums like these three, not to mention the friends of all ages who had met up in there for a bite and a catch-up, have no need to worry about where they're going to leave the car. Not a big deal, maybe, but it's one less thing to be flustered about.
And that's what Tank & Skinny's offers – a lovely, relaxing, unflustered experience. It's a friendly, inviting café that serves freshly-made, carefully-prepared, high-quality food.
Nothing fancy, but everything – Bakewell tart notwithstanding – very good, indeed.
It's not our handiest café, given the distance from Derry, but I can definitely see this being a regular, much-anticipated stop-off point for us on journeys back to Derry from the north coast.
- Quiche Lorraine, chips, salad £8.50
- Goat cheese, pear, and walnut salad £7.90
- Red onion marmalade sausage roll £2.70
- Bakewell tart £3.10
- Chocolate brownie £3.10
- Diet Coke £1.50
- Total: £26.80