11 The Spa Buffet Bar, Scarborough

Spa Complex, South Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 2HD

If one was not obsessed with pubs it is quite easy to imagine one could become obsessed by seaside spas. There is something rather special about these regal buildings which stand full square against the sea and provide a constant reminder of the days of old when the Costas were nothing more than a typographical error. If you wanted to be multi-obsessive, you could always collect Seaside Spa Buffet Bars. The one in Scarborough is a gem of a building and is one of the oldest remaining parts of a Spa complex which has undergone many rebuildings over the years. The current grand Victorian building mainly dates from the 1880s. The previous manifestations of this grand building almost seem to have been a test-bed for Three Little Pigs Construction Corp, falling victim to either fire, gales or tidal surge. The current building is satisfyingly chunky and easily resisted the high tides and beating waves that were present during my visit. 

Like all goof buffet bars it is long, narrow and fairly single-minded about its purpose in life which is, of course, to dispense alcohol. One can imagine the poor foreign tourist who has looked the word "buffet" up in a dictionary coming in search of a choice of tasty food items and finding little other than a series of shiny beer pipes. A careful search revealed a few packets of crisps and peanuts, but other than that it is a buffet bar in the strictly nineteenth century English sense. 

Food there may not be (and to be fair, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants elsewhere in the Spa Complex) but there is usually some very pleasant beer. As well as the usual choices, there is normally a selection of beers from the Wold Top Brewery which is situated in Driffield. My visit coincided with the annual Scarborough Jazz Festival and therefore my choice was the specially brewed "Festival Bitter". It was a bit pedestrian, but it was perhaps a good choice to go with jazz. The music could be left to challenge the senses - the beer helped you get in a pleasantly receptive mood. Giant television screens relayed the music from the concert hall, allowing you to lean against the majestic bar and sip on your pint. A not unpleasant way to live your life. 

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