It may be Shambles by name, but it certainly isn’t Shambles by nature. This Morpeth-based eatery definitely serves up a memorable à la carte dining experience.
Good job too, as it was a treat to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. Thankfully, it proved a fine present.
We actually went to the Bridge Street venue on Hallowe’en night (the evening of my partner’s birthday, but I will avoid any witch jokes!), but there was to be no horror show here.
Stylish surroundings matched by decent food was a winning combination.
Shambles is set over three floors. The restaurant is sandwiched between the lower-level bar (serving a range of bar snacks) and the second floor ensign room, complete with pool table and darts board.
I have to admit, I was a little concerned that this would impact on the dining experience; that the peace and tranquillity of the à la carte restaurant would be drowned out by hoards of drinkers – especially on Hallowe’en – coming from above and below.
But in all honesty, I needn’t have been concerned. The restaurant is completely shut off from the bars and maintains an incredibly private and intimate feel.
The restaurant itself is very stylish and modern. A nice touch is the quality artwork which is dotted around the room.
The venue’s website states that it strives to source all the ingredients locally, keeping its food miles as close to zero as possible.
It boasts that the ingredients are local and sustainable, coming from across the Northumberland.
This, of course, is always a big bonus, although I would like to see Shambles shout about this much more on the menu.
Speaking of the menu, my partner and I were impressed by the choice available, with a decent selection of starters, mains and desserts.
There was also a good amount of special coffees (Baileys, Tia Maria, dark rum etc), whiskeys and digestives.
Speaking of alcohol, my partner went for a glass of the house white, while I had a pint of larger.
For starters, my dining companion went for the lamb kofte, pickled cucumber and mint yoghurt (£6.50), while I chose the moules marinières with toasted brioche (£5.95).
The lamb had a subtle spice to it, although this may have been because the yoghurt was incredibly cooling; in fact it was a little overpowering and dominated the lamb just a tad.
My seafood dish was superb and left me wanting more. The sauce was creamy and thick and the mussels – of which there were many – tasted fresh, while the brioche was nicely toasted and was a fine accompaniment to the shellfish – especially for mopping up some of that delicious sauce.
I’m a sucker for a steak, so I chose the 8oz sirloin, (£15.95).
There were two other choices from the grill; 8oz rump (£12.95), and 8oz rib-eye (£15.95).
In true Hallowe’en style, I went for red and bloody and I am delighted to say that it came out that way.
The meat was a decent size and was incredibly tender – not at all chewy.
It came with a side salad, mushroom and rustic, hand-cut chips.
On the other side of the table was the pork fillet wrapped in Parma ham, sweet potato mash and crispy leeks (£11.95).
The pork was pink and cooked well and that, accompanied by the mash and leeks – which, by the way, were a decent size – proved a fine, warming and hearty option for a winter’s night.
Personally, I thought her dish was much better presented than my own.
Now, if you could give my partner a choice, she would happily have three courses of pudding. So the smile was etched across her face when we reached round three. And the dessert queen wasn’t disappointed.
Deciding to divert from her normal option – in this case, the classic sticky toffee pudding with salt butter caramel and ice-cream (£4.95) – she went for the same-priced summer fruit Eton mess.
It proved to be a good choice. The dessert itself was every bit as creamy, sweet and crunchy as my partner had wanted it to be.
She certainly makes up for my lack of sweet tooth and I decided to skip the pudding and go straight to the after-dinner alcohol – a 12-year-old Glenkinchie, followed by an Amaretto coffee.
A fine end to a fine evening.
THIS IS MUCH MORE THAN A RESTAURANT
Shambles’ ground-floor bar boasts a range of cask and bottled beers and wines, as well as cocktails and shots. It also sells food and hosts open-mic nights. The second-floor ensign room is a sporting haven, with darts board and pool table (said to be the only free pool table in Morpeth).
Its website states that there are seven screens throughout the building, showing all major sporting events, including every Newcastle United Premier League game.
As well as the à la carte menu, the restaurant serves Sunday lunch.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Soup of the day (v)......£3.95
Pickled pear, Gorgonzola, candied walnut salad......£5.95
Thai fishcakes, Asian salad, sweet chilli sauce......£5.95
Mackerel nicoise, green beans, quails egg, black olives......£6.95
Grilled gammon steak, pineapple, poached egg, salad and hand-cut chips......£9.95
Confit shin of beef, carrot purée, red wine jus......£14.95
Wild mushrooms, thyme, and mascarpone risotto (v)......£9.95
Selection of ice creams......£3
Iced nougat parfait......£4.95
Chocolate brownie, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce......£4.95
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......8
Value for money......8½
Local food (says the website)......8½
Access for disabled (table can be reserved downstairs)......No
Toilet for disabled......No
Verdict: Memorable dining experience.
Contact: 01670 516688 or visit shamblesbar.co.uk