Yorkshire's Independent Restaurant Guide

The Meanest Flood

We don’t get many complaints at Squidbeak – honest. Perhaps it’s not so surprising because if we don’t like a place enough, it just doesn’t get listed but we had an unhappy follower recently who’d taken our advice to eat at York’s Ambiente Tapas bar.

“They were friendly and all”, he wrote “but the food was just terrible. Badly cooked fare,
presented and served indifferently. Won’t go there again, and will think
twice about other restaurants you recommend”.  John Baker of York.

Which surprised me because I’ve eaten there at least three times in the last 12 months with good results from a high percentage of dishes. Not 100% but let’s say 75-80%. And had that view confirmed by others whose judgment I trust.

Hmmm…John Baker of York? Sounded familiar. Couldn’t be the J. Baker with the restaurant of the same name in York because he’s a Jeff. Could it be John Baker of York, the crime writer? Indeed, it could. For those who don’t know his work, he has a York-based private detective called Sam Turner who takes his morning coffee in the demure setting of Betty’s but whose  jobs lead him into a seedier underbelly of York. Turner is a great Chandler-esque gumshoe (painfully divorced, tick; alcoholic, tick), the plots are good, the locations sharply drawn, the writing sharper still. Never understood why they never crossed over into best-sellerdom while another Yorkshire crime writer like, say, Peter Robinson hits the jackpot.

Anyway, for some years you’ve been shamefully unable to find John Baker on the shelves of Waterstone’s, even in his home town of York so I direct you to his website where they are on sale direct. Try Poet in the Gutter or The Meanest Flood, for starters. Plus there’s the added benefit of the literary musings, quotations and writing tips of an extremely well read man, as well as good places to eat.

Mind you, we had to agree to differ about Ambiente, though he’s promised not to ‘dump squidbeak’.