Paignton has a strange attraction, it is a splat in between the sizable populous mass of Torquay to the north and the beautiful harbour of Brixham. There are a few words that you could use to describe Paignton, and depending on who you ask will depend what sort of words they end up being. True, the town has its problems and suffers from a lack of investment but its charm and cheesyness is the thing that brings me back to this slightly strange town time and time again.
The town has ample supply of cafe’s and restaurants aimed at visitors and locals alike. There are so many arcades, cheap tat shops and charity shops you might end up getting lost in a bizarre world of childhood nostalgia and vintage re-runs of Coronation Street that will scar your brain forever.
The choices are endless, and despite the fact there is a Costa and the obligatory chain outlets, it is full of strange independent cafes and take-aways and for me, that is too much to resist. And, despite a previous visit I am here at Scoffs in Torbay Road again.
Scoffs has no website. It has no online presence at all, apart from a slightly scarce Facebook page with little on it apart from a comment about chips. It has no twitter account, at least nothing that is visable from a Google search.
When you do a Google search you get ample amounts of Tripadvisor reviews and only then do you realise what a dichotomy exists between the people that LOVE this place and the slightly lesser amount of people who don’t like it at all. Luckily I can put myself in to the camp of people who do love this cafe, with my couple of visits being both very happy experiences.
Scoffs stands out because of its claim to be the home of the Yorkshire Chip. What exactly is the Yorkshire Chip? A quick google search brought back nothing of any use, and I wonder if this is something that is truly unique to Paignton. The Yorkshire Chip is from what I can see, their special variation on the traditional chip. Coated in something that resembles batter, the chips are coated in a light sprinkling of this special ingredient which gives them a bright orange glow and a very crispy-on-outside-soft-inside end result.
It was the end of a busy Saturday. We had been around to pretty much every arcade, looked around every charity shop and been to see my friend Bryce over at Epicentre Cafe. The one thing I had set my heart on was some Scoffs chips.
To the right you see the Pie and Chips (£5.50) that my companion had, bad photo was because I took it on my iPod as I forgot my usual camera.
The one thing that left a positive impression with us was the service. As soon as we came in we were greeted by a lovely long-haired waiter who found us a seat and said that he’d be with us shortly. So we sat down and waited, and it wasn’t long until the waiter (who we found out was called Stuart), took our order. He knelt beside the table so we were able to make eye-contact with him, we actually had what could loosely be called a conversation. Throughout our short visit, he was attentive and polite, near perfect service and certainly the best I had ever come across in a cafe of this type.
Scoffs has a charm which I am yet to pin down. It has laminated menus that have been photocopied time and time and time again, and the ambient noise seems to be a blonde haired lady who shouts a lot. During out visit, despite our best attempts we couldn’t quite work out what she was shouting about. Was it at customers? Was she the manager? or just mad. Either way it is something you generally have to accept when the chefs are front-of-house. Upscale restaurants have theatre kitchens, but the humble chippy has been doing the ‘theatric dining expereince’ for generations. Cooks/chefs shout.
The decor is average chippy decor, but it was clean and looked hygenic which is up on many cafes I have been to over the years. Very quickly Stuart brought over our food, me with a battered sausage and chips and my companion had. Whole thing including drinks was shy of £12.
The sausage was well battered with an even coating, well cooked and not overdone. The chips were generally perfectly cooked, although the large portions that they serve are terrific value but the coating can be quite heavy on the stomach.
My companion’s pie was very nice, with a rich sauce and generous chunks of steak which were cooked well and not overdone. A very satisfying hole-filling meal.
True, Scoffs isn’t exactly Michelin star quality and the Yorkshire Chip is an delicious oddity with many other local variations (they have something similiar in Exmouth) . And you can read through Tripadvisor and see that the service hasn’t always been very good to some people, but the portion size to the price paid ratio is high. The value is quite amazing in that sense, but it depends if you can eat it all.
Scoffs is food to fill a hole with, the experience of dining in was for us a really good one which I am happy to recommend to anyone.
Pros: Excellent service, fantastic value for money, amazing chips, proper cafe grub with no pretensions.
Cons: Shouting lady, located in Paignton which for some might be bad. Chips are ‘too much’ depending on appetite. Inconsistent experiences from other diners.
23 Torbay Road, Paignton TQ4 6AA, 01803 529 584