MEAL REVIEW: The Dyke Neuk Inn, Meldon, Morpeth

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The other weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Wallington Hall for the first time.

Bewildered by the country house’s collection of dolls’ houses and toys, I started to feel a rumble in my tummy.

The last time I wrote one of these reviews I faintly recall mentioning that I was trying to lose weight, well, I’m slightly embarrassed to report that I haven’t got anywhere with that as such. In fact, I’ve completely forgotten what a healthy meal looks like.

As we left Wallington and the classic car show that was on that day, we started driving back to Morpeth to head home.

It was about 4pm on a Sunday and thought that most places would be serving Sunday lunches. So, as we passed the little village of Meldon, we saw the sign for the Dyke Neuk and headed in.

When you walk through the door, it’s almost like a corridor. To the right, there is the bar and, to the left, you head to the restaurant area, but this wasn’t clear.

There weren’t any staff to welcome us so we wandered into the restaurant area and stood around for a few minutes.

I almost thought the pub was closed, or had stopped serving because there were no staff or customers around.

We’d obviously missed the Sunday lunch rush, which, for those who enjoy quiet dining, would have been a blessing in disguise.

When a member of staff appeared, they showed us to the table and asked where we would like to sit.

Considering we were the only people there, we actually had the whole dining area to choose from.

Because we weren’t overly hungry, we decided to share a starter of breaded chicken fillets with a side salad and garlic mayonnaise (£6.90).

The food was very hot and you could tell it was fresh out of the fryer. Personally, that’s how I like it, although I’m sure others may prefer it once it’s been left to rest a little.

The chicken wasn’t soft, it was quite hard to bite into. Nevertheless, the garlic mayonnaise was a great complement to the dish.

As we waited the arrival of our main courses, we were joined by another couple, so we weren’t alone in the restaurant.

For the main event, I went traditional and had fish and a mountain of chips (£9.90). I mean, where can you go wrong with a traditional British dish?

My friend went for the hot roast beef sandwich with French fries (£7.90).

I don’t think anyone would be able to grumble at the prices of both meals.

We both enjoyed our food to a limited extent.

The fish was fine but it seemed to be more batter than fish. The chips were slightly overcooked and very greasy, but I’m not an overly fussy eater so I managed to finish it all.

The beef sandwich, in my opinion, was a bit of an afterthought. Admittedly, the menu stated that it came with French fries but they looked extremely plastic compared to my chunkier chips.

Also, I don’t recall the menu stating that the sandwich came with a massive dollop of gravy on top of the bun, making it rather difficult to eat.

I’m quite a stickler for making sure everything I’m getting is mentioned on the menu.

Admittedly, not mentioning that the plate was going to be covered in gravy is not the end of the world, but it did affect the quality of the bun.

I don’t know if it was the time of day we ate or the team was having a quiet Sunday afternoon, but I did feel as if the whole experience, was a bit of an anti-climax.

The staff were great and very attentive – admittedly because we were the only people in the restaurant.

After we’d finished, we were asked if we enjoyed our meals.

We said yes because we’d eaten the food but perhaps we should have been more honest.

We decided to give the desserts a try and I’m quite glad we did. I went for the chocolate fudge cake (£4.50) and my friend chose the toffee crunch pie (£4.50), both served with ice cream, another thing that wasn’t mentioned on the menu.

My fudge cake was served so warm that the chocolate melted inside and oozed out deliciously.

It was safe to say I definitely had a moment with my cake.

The toffee crunch pie was equally as scrumptious and I had to try some.

The layered affair was certainly worth the money.

The bill was around £40 and, considering we’d had a couple of drinks, there wasn’t much for our wallets to moan about.

DISAPPOINTING EXPERIENCE

I must admit, I was quite disappointed with my experience on a late Sunday afternoon. This doesn’t mean to say the pub is like this every day! I’ve worked in pubs and restaurants and know that when the business is quiet, there is a tendency to allow the food or service to slide. Obviously, when we do food reviews, we have to judge on our experience at the time and I felt that the service was great but, unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said about the food.

SELECTION FROM THE SUNDAY MENU

Starters

Homemade soup of the day......£3.95

Farmhouse pâté with red onion marmalade and toasted ciabatta......£6.50

Prawn cocktail......£6.90

Toasted ciabatta......£6.50

Main Courses

Roast of the day (beef or lamb or pork with crackling or chicken with stuffing)......£8.95

Vegetarian omelette served with French fries and salad......£7.95

Roast trio beef, lamb, pork......£9.90

Fish and chips......£9.90

OAP/kids’ Sunday roast......£5.95

Desserts

Deep-filled apple pie......£4.50

Apple tart......£4.50

Chocolate fudge cake......£4.50

Toffee crunch pie......£4.50

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Quality of food......6

Presentation......7

Choice (Sunday)......5

Vegetarian choice (Sunday)......4

Value for money......9

Atmosphere......5

Use of local food......7

Service......8

Access for disabled......5

Toilet for disabled......Yes

Overall rating......6

Verdict: Great stop-off that prides itself on serving award-winning ales. Make sure you head there at busy times, though.

Contact: 01670 772662; website thedykeneuk.co.uk

The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed The Pheasant Inn, near Kielder, and if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.