[Harrogate] Drum & Monkey

It’s many years since we last ate at the Drum & Monkey. Certainly not this side of 2008, which is when I started to keep notes of our restaurant meals. We remembered it as a good seafood restaurant and that’s not changed. Speaking of things not changing, they have a “classics” section to the menu – things like fish pie which never really goes out of fashion. But, for the most part, the menu is bang-on for current “Modern British” seafood cooking.

There was a classic prawn cocktail to start for one of us. A generous serving of prawns, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber and Marie Rose sauce, made quite pokey by a sprinkling of cayenne pepper across the top. The other plate was also fixed somewhere in Northern Europe. Mackerel had been given a light, sweetish pickle and was served with shaved fennel and kohl-rabi and an indeterminate savoury puree. The starters come with bread.

If the starters were very European, one main course, from the day’s specials, went a bit fusiony. Monkfish had been coated in char sui sauce, roasted and thickly sliced, just as a Chinese restaurant might do with pork. I’m not normally a big fan of fusion but I thought the treatment would work well with the firm texture of the fish. And it did. It was served with leaves of chicory and radicchio which brought crispness and a really nice bitterness. And there’s a puree from sesame and Maitake mushroom. I assume the chef reckoned the Asian name, rather than “hen of the wood”, fitted the menu better.

The other main was perfectly cooked hake with pancetta and a Pedro Ximenez sherry sauce. The menu said there was leek and lobster also in there but they must have been playing very much in the background as their flavours could not be detected. But it was still delicious.

Carbs are extras here and we ordered a dish of new potatoes. We also got a dish of mixed “greens” – mangetout, beans and courgette - which were cooked through but still with a bit of bite.

We didn’t want dessert but did have very decent coffee. And it’s the making of the coffee that brings our only criticism. Our table, booked at the beginning of August, was the worst in the place. Literally, right next to the coffee machine on the bar which, when in operation throughout the evening, is so noisy as to make conversation impossible. Had every other table not been occupied, we would have asked to move. For goodness sake, move it to somewhere less disruptive.


The name made me giggle because some pubs here in Massachusetts, striving for authenticity, will be named after 2 disparate things such as “Elephant & Castle.” I find “Drum & Monkey” charming but also funny imagining myself saying to B “let’s go to ‘Drum & Monkey’ tonight.”

Sorry, just feeling silly. In any case, that monkfish prep sounds right up my alley.

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That sounds very interesting. I’ve not seen char siu applied to seafood.

Yup, I’ve been to that area of London. I was referring to an actual pub that was in Boston years ago.

I thought perhaps the Boston pub was named for the London throwback.

I’m sure it was…but it’s still funny to me, especially out of context. Like “hey this sounds British…let’s go with it!”

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Many seemingly odd pub names will have their origins in history. Although more recent namings can be contrived - such as the Slug & Lettuce chain.

A quick Google indicates that the Drum & Monkey pops up as a name right across the country. We have one about 10 minutes drive south of my home. It’s thought to originate from travelling showmen or fairground workers who had a trained monkey which played a drum as well as doing other tricks.

Near to where I used to work is the pub with the UK’s longest name - it’s “The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn”. Just 50 yards away is the “Q Inn” which is the shortest pub name.


We recognize Harrogate as Celia’s original home before meeting Alan in Skipton. Had he enticed her to their reunion in Halifax, where would that have been?

Are you sure you were not imagining saying to B, “let’s Drum and Monkey tonight (all night), old chap”?

Sorry, I’m a sucker for an easy shot.

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Yo dude: let’s keep it clean here!!! Family site and all.


No soup for you @fooddabbler!


As for clever names for accommodations,

here across the Pond, Do Drop Inn for bars, and Dew Drop Inn for overnight lodging were once the ticket.

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Hey, didn’t mean to offend you, of all people. It was just that “Drum and Monkey” is such a particularly funny juxtaposition.*

  • ETA: Because it’s so meaningless, you can pretend it has any meaning you choose to give it.
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I think it was, thanks to you, John, that we ate at the Drum & Monkey some years ago and enjoyed it very much. We’ve been known to go to Harrogate just to eat at the Royal Baths Chinese restaurant. It reminds me of the good food I always had in NYC. I think its time for a drive. :slight_smile:

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We walked past the Baths on the way to each of our restaurants and thought “what a funny place for a Chinese restaurant”. And it’s really that good that it’s worth a drive from down south?