MEAL REVIEW: Bertram’s, Warkworth

Cuddy's Cave cheese and ham quiche, served with salad, coleslaw and chutney.
Cuddy's Cave cheese and ham quiche, served with salad, coleslaw and chutney.
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It may have been open for less than a year, but Bertram’s in Warkworth is already making quite a name for itself.

The Bridge Street eatery took the best newcomer title at Northeast Press’ recent WOW 24/7 Food, Drink and Leisure Awards and is currently the village’s top-ranked restaurant on TripAdvisor.

Seahouses smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich on chunky granary bread, served with salad.

Seahouses smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich on chunky granary bread, served with salad.

And after a lunchtime stop on Saturday, it is easy to see why this licensed café is attracting attention, rave reviews and accolades.

Quite simply, it is a welcome addition to Warkworth, with fine food, pleasant surroundings, attentive staff and is highly recommended. Bertram’s opened in July, following a major transformation of the Black Bull pub.

From the outside, it is an attractive building, with the exposed stones showing the history of the property.

Inside, Bertram’s oozes character and charm, but there is also a contemporary feel. Wooden floorboards and log-burning stoves are complemented by crisp, neutral coloured walls and fairy lights. There really is a relaxed, laid-back feel here.

Potato skins

Potato skins

Art from the village’s Fenwick Gallery adorns the walls. Behind myself and my dining partner was work by renowned wildlife and animal painter Nicole Fenwick. Entitled Puffin Island, it captured some of the cute creatures at the Farne Islands. Much of the artwork on show depicts Northumberland in one way or another.

It is indicative of what is to come – as the ‘keeping it local’ mantra stretches to the menu, which is packed with options such as Doddington cheese and fish from Seahouses, while the homemade burger is made from Turnbull’s steak mince.

Not only is the menu crammed with local produce, but it is also fairly extensive. Breakfast is served from 9am to noon, (some options are served all day), lunch – which includes specials – is noon to 6pm, and afternoon tea runs from 3pm to 6pm. There are also desserts and sweet treats and children’s options and many of the dishes are homemade.

To drink, my partner had a bottle of Hollows & Fentimans alcoholic ginger beer (£3.80). It didn’t have the kick that some ginger beers have, but it was still nicely spiced and incredibly drinkable.

Gluten free chocolate brownie.

Gluten free chocolate brownie.

I opted for an Americano (two shots, £2.40) and was promptly asked if I wanted milk or cream – a nice touch. I went for the latter and a more than generous amount was served in a glass bottle shaped like a milk churn.

To eat, my dining companion chose the homemade quiche served with salad, coleslaw and Bertram’s chutney (£7.50). She had the Cuddy’s Cave cheese and ham option, but goats cheese, tomato and basil was also available. It proved a great shout! The quiche was light, fluffy and indulgent and my partner said it was one of the best she’s tasted in years. The chutney was a great accompaniment.

I was equally satisfied with my dish – Seahouses smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich on chunky granary bread served with salad (£6.95). Both the cheese and the salmon were plentiful and the fish tasted fresh.

We shared some potato skins and they were delicious – golden brown and thankfully not overly greasy nor ridiculously heavy and stodgy like some skins can be. They came with a little pot of mayonnaise.

Coconut cake

Coconut cake

Not only did both meals taste good, but they were nicely presented too.

Because of this, it was a little surprising that our desserts weren’t better displayed on their plates. It would have been nice for my gluten-free chocolate brownie (£1.75), for example, to have come with, say, some raspberries or even some ice-cream, instead of both cakes being served by themselves. But this was our only criticism (and a minor one at that) of our fantastic Bertram’s experience. The taste of both desserts was superb. My partner’s cake was light and delicate and the icing wasn’t sickly-sweet or ridiculously thick and the hint of coconut was just right. My brownie was crunchy on the top and dense in the middle and was intense in flavour.

Testament to its growing reputation, the café was jam-packed and even on a wet and miserable Saturday, there was a constant stream of people coming through the doors – who were either put on the waiting list or reluctantly went elsewhere. Despite it being busy, the staff were relaxed, polite and attentive and we did not feel rushed in anyway.

The eatery is named after Sir Bertram of Bothal –the hermit who lived at the village’s Hermitage. All the evidence suggests that this café will become every bit as legendary as its namesake.

AFTERNOON TEA IS ON THE MENU

Afternoon tea is very much in vogue and Bertram’s serves up its own helping. Its traditional afternoon teas come with dainty sandwiches (including cheese and homemade chutney, free-range egg, mayonnaise), home-baked scones, your choice of cake (including Victoria sandwich; carrot cake; coffee and walnut; chocolate) and a pot of tea or cup of coffee. It is £12.95 per person, or a G&Tea (add a gin and tonic) is £17.50 or a sparkling afternoon tea with Prosecco is £17.50.

Bertram's in Warkworth

Bertram's in Warkworth

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

Breakfast

Fry up (which comes with bacon, sausage, black pudding, hash brown, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, fried egg and toast)......£8.50

Eggs Benedict......£6.95

Granola, berries, yogurt......£3.95

Lunch

Homemade soup with artisan bread or cheese scone......£5.50

Swallow of Seahouses kipper pâté served with toast and salad......£6.95

Greek feta salad served with toasted pitta bread and hummus......£8.50

Bertram’s burger......£11.50

Desserts

Heckly farmhouse sticky toffee pudding with cream......£4.95

Homemade crumble served with cream (fillings vary depending on fruit in season)......£4.95

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Quality of food......8

Presentation......8

Choice......8

Vegetarian choice......7

Atmosphere......8

Use of local food......10

Service......9

Disabled access......7

Toilet for disabled......No

Cater for kids......Yes

Overall rating......8½

Verdict: Deserving of its best newcomer award in Wow 24/7.

Contact: 01665 798070 or visit Bertram’s on Facebook.

The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed the Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury. And if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.