The North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate sees its fair share of cafés and tea shops—some good, some not so good. A relative newcomer on the café scene, and one which drew three weary and spent shoppers into its doors after a round of late morning errands, is Café Rita.
Café Rita is a welcoming and cozy little establishment serving an array of foods spanning the day from breakfast through lunch and into early dinner hours (through 6:00 p.m.). There’s a serious hodgepodge of meals running the gamut from a Full English Breakfast to a prawn and avocado sandwich served on a bloomer (British vernacular for a type of bread) to a chargrilled mixed grill featuring rib eye steak, chicken and lamb cutlet. And not a bangers and mash plate in sight. Café Rita also offers a wide selection of hot and cold drinks including an assortment of teas, coffee and alcoholic beverages, all at affordable prices.
As my hungry party of worn out shoppers popped in at lunchtime, sans reservation, we were immediately seated at a corner window table. Not particularly picky eaters, we perused the menu for something, anything, that sounded good—and honestly, practically everything on the menu seemed as if it would be palatable at that moment—and finally ordered. Coming right up: Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs served on toast (£5.95), Full English Breakfast which included bacon, sausage, egg, mushroom, baked beans, grilled tomato and toast (£3.95), a Steak Sandwich on a baguette (£6.95) and Tuna Mayonnaise Salad Sandwich (£3.95).
It’s really difficult to rave about food that tastes like it’s meant to taste. There was absolutely nothing bad about any of the dishes. On the other hand, no single dish was an amazing standout that put all other plates to shame.
While the steak sandwich was nicely seasoned, the meat itself could have been a little less tough. A couple of times I almost pulled the entire piece of meat free from the confines of the baguette when I took a bite. But here again, it wasn’t a bad sandwich. The flavors were spot on and it was cooked as I had ordered it: well done. Having said that, “well done” does not equate to burned, charred, desiccated and totally inedible and, to Café Rita’s credit, they didn’t totally annihilate the steak, a feat to which I am wholly grateful.
The smoked salmon and scrambled eggs scored high marks for both presentation and taste, as did the tuna mayonnaise salad sandwich. Once again, they both tasted as they should—like smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and a tuna sandwich. When you think about it, that’s a good thing indeed. They could have come out of the kitchen tasting like everything else except what it should have tasted like (salmon that tastes like bacon…really?!?).
Perhaps the least successfully executed dish was, surprisingly, the full English breakfast which, according to the bona fide Englishwoman eating it, suffered from a case of overall blahness. Such a shame, too, given that it was prepared on British soil to an Englishwoman who had her taste buds primed and ready for the satisfying flavors of a full English breakfast. That aside, it was a mouthwatering plate to gaze upon.
There really was nothing overtly spectacular about the food at Café Rita. However, this in and of itself is not a negative. It simply means that Café Rita offers good food at prices that are more than reasonable and won’t break the bank or your wallet. The staff is hospitable and friendly, and I get the sense that they would bend over backwards to right a wrong when presented with one.
Café Rita is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner; Mon-Sat 9:00a-6:00p, Sun 10:00a-5:00p.
Café Rita, 15A Bower Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 1BE, United Kingdom +44 01423 202703