An adult meal in ambient surroundings with delicious food was our aim on a rare child-free night.
And Hooked Restaurant in Alnmouth certainly fitted the bill.
Taking over from the Saddle Grill in the seaside village, the restaurant has recently been refurbished.
With just eight tables, it is small and intimate, perfect for a romantic meal for two or a special occasion.
The timber beams and exposed brick along one wall, with a roaring fire, and wooden floors give a rustic impression while pale walls and bright lights made it feel very calm and relaxed.
We were quickly shown to our table, despite arriving a little early, by very friendly and welcoming waitresses which made all the difference.
But what was an added bonus was the explanation about how all their fish was boat-landed, local and fresh.
And for a mid-February Saturday night it was nearly full – surely a testament to how well it is doing.
When I opened the menu I knew we had chosen the right place.
It was filled with dishes using local produce and my mouth was watering as I read it all.
After ordering a round of drinks we perused the menu - and after spotting the dessert list I knew we would be there for some time.
I decided to go for the Craster kipper pate (£5.95) as a starter while my other half chose the half-dozen Lindisfarne oysters (£10.95) – after seeing them arrive at another table.
It didn’t take too long for them to arrive, but you could tell how fresh the food was.
And it was plentiful - another tick for us.
My pate came in three separate pieces, each ornately presented with a piece of melba toast on top and on a bed of gem lettuce.
It was accompanied by a plum chutney and the flavours were sublime.
The pate was not overpowering and matched well with the chutney giving a hint of sweetness to the smokey fish.
The oysters also went down well.
For the purposes of reviewing I managed to sneak one and it was so fresh that it tasted as if it had literally just been landed.
Other starters included soup of the day (£3.75) and smokey crunchy chicken (£6.25) to name a couple.
On to the main course and sticking with the theme of the sea I chose the red mullet which came with sweet potato chips, chorizo, black pudding and a tarragon butter (£16.95).
I was a little sceptical about the black pudding and chorizo matching with such a delicate fish.
But it was a revelation.
The flavours combined perfectly and it was just superb.
My husband opted for the beer-battered cod from the specials board which came with chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce (£10.95).
And he wasn’t disappointed.
The fish was huge, clearly freshly battered and again extremely fresh.
The hand-cut chips were also delicious and while it was fish and chips, it was miles better than any take-away variety.
The only downside for me was a lack of vegetables on the side. The red mullet just came with some watercress and would have benefitted from some other vegetables, but this would only had added to a superb dish.
Other mains included rib-eye steak (£19.95), Tartiflette (£11.95) and steak and ale pie (£10.95.)
Despite being full we decided to go for desserts anyway, as the sweet tooth of mine always rears its head.
I chose the blood orange and dark chocolate pancakes (£6.95) while the husband plumped for the Northumberland Cheese Company selection (£8.95).
And once again both were ample and delicious.
The pancakes were filled with a Cointreau cream, drizzled with melted dark chocolate and surrounded by a blood orange sauce.
The flavours were lovely and it wasn’t too heavy so made a perfect end to the meal for me.
The cheeseboard opposite came with four big chunks of cheese, biscuits, chutney, grapes and celery and went down very well.
The emphasis on fresh and local produce at Hooked is fantastic.
All the dishes appeared to be cooked to order and the other dishes arriving at neighbouring tables looked just as tantalising as ours.
A PERFECT SPOT FOR A DELICIOUS EVENING MEAL
Hooked is currently only open on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
However the venue is taking bookings for Mother’s Day lunches on Sunday, March 30.
The ethos is on local food, with many well-known names on the menu which in turn helps support other businesses.
The restaurant also boasts a seasonal menu which changes through the year to use the freshest ingredients possible.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Panatela salad with Elsdon goat’s cheese £5.95
Smoked salmon £6.95
Fresh mussels £6.95
Pan-roasted chicken breast £14.95
Salmon fillet £13.95
Black winter truffle macaroni £11.95
Warm salad of sea salt and thyme potatoes £10.95
Roast chicken breast, fish and chips and bangers and mash All £6.50
Mango, passion fruit & meringue cocktail £5.95
Homemade apple & cinnamon crumble £5.95
Selection of Morwick dairy ice cream £4.95
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food 9
Vegetarian choice 7
Value for money 9
Local food 8
Children catered for 7½
Access for disabled 7
Toilet for disabled No
OVERALL RATING 9
VERDICT: A small but perfectly formed venue which promotes the use of local food and is a welcome addition to the area.
CONTACT: 01665 830335 or visit the restaurant’s website.