The Ship Inn at Low Newton is a very popular pub; there’s always someone in there, but during the high season, it can be a struggle even to get in the door.
It’s not hard to understand why, given the location, the quaintness of the pub itself, their own brewed ales and the modestly-priced food.
Just like many others, both locals and visitors, I go there fairly regularly, be it for a pint and a snack as part of a walk along the coast or to enjoy a cold beer on the lawn during the summer.
However, while I have eaten there at lunchtime, I had not made it across to Low Newton for an evening meal, something which can be more difficult than you might think, as The Ship caters for a relatively small number of covers, it’s very popular and they only offer dinner Thursday to Saturday during winter (Wednesday to Saturday in the summer).
Happily, as it turned out, we managed to book about a week in advance and get a slot on the Saturday night before last.
Arriving on a cold winter’s night, the pub shone like a beacon in the darkness, promising warmth and a hearty meal.
For those that haven’t been there before – there’s always a few – the inn looks like a pub should look like – a bit battered and worn, with a wooden bar, floors, tables and benches.
Coming in out of the chill, there was a good buzz in the pub and the atmosphere was further enhanced by musical accompaniment – Andrew and Margaret Watchorn, they of the Northumbrian pipes and fiddle, were there playing for their supper.
At lunchtime, the food at the pub is simple, hearty fare, with a focus on flavour based on our beautiful local produce, from both land and sea.
This carries through into the evening menu, but while the daytime offering is straightforward – toasties, stotties and Ploughman’s, I was pleased to see that the principles were expanded into providing something with a touch more sophistication and variety, as you would expect for dinner.
Preparing to order, we did come across the disadvantage of a small menu and a relatively small service; two of the main options – Carters of Bamburgh rib-eye steak with onion marmalade (£22.50) and Northumbrian lamb cutlets with homemade mint sauce (£15.95) were both unavailable as everyone who ordered before us had opted for these two.
I was not deterred, however, as I had already spotted the haggis, neeps and tatties (£10.95), a must-have on the first Saturday after Burns Night.
Indeed, later in the evening, a haggis was piped in by Andrew Watchorn before being addressed and cut by the landlady Christine Forsyth.
First up though, I had one of my staple, go-to dishes – Swallow Fish kipper pâté (£5.50). It was served with oatcakes and a little side salad, the perfect start to the meal.
Across the table was a salad (£6.95) featuring Doddington Dairy’s Berwick Edge cheese, roasted peppers, rocket, pine nuts and a healthy portion of prosciutto ham.
Mrs O followed her salad with the cullen skink – a Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions – choosing the smaller version (£5.95) with one eye on the dessert menu. A large was also on offer (£9.95). She hadn’t tried it before and having taken my recommendation, she wasn’t disappointed.
Nor was I. My haggis was meaty and peppery, the swede was well-seasoned and the mash was smooth but not too gloopy. It was served with a mustard cream sauce and my only complaint was that I could have done with more of it.
Despite my rather heavier main, we both decided we had space for sweets and were tempted by a classic apiece. The apple crumble (£4.50) was very good as the fruit was not too sweet and not too sour while the crumble was buttery and had a good crunch. The treacle tart (£4.95) was just as you want it to be – sweet and satisfying.
Both were served with a scoop of Doddington Dairy ice cream and rounded the evening off extremely nicely indeed.
DAYTIME OFFERS GREAT VALUE
For three courses and two rounds of drinks, albeit soft drinks, our bill came in at under £50, which is not too bad given our good experience.
Having said that, the prices on the evening menu are more in line with other restaurants in the area so if you fancy tucking in at The Ship, but with an eye on your bank balance, a lunchtime trip may be worth considering.
Soup and a stottie is £3.95, a cheese toastie is just £2 and kipper pâté on toast is £5.95.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Swallow Fish kipper pâté......£5.50
Roasted pepper salad......£6.95
Bread and olives with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip......£3.95
Grilled halloumi with basil, peppers and tomato......£5.50
Carters of Bamburgh rib-eye steak with onion marmalade......£22.50
Northumbrian lamb cutlets with homemade mint sauce......£15.95
Haggis, neeps and tatties......£10.95
Homemade pesto with fresh pasta, rocket and roast tomatoes......£8.95
Doddington Dairy Berwick Edge and Darling Blue cheese......£6.50
Doddington Dairy ice-cream......£3.50
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......9
Use of local food......9
Access for the disabled......6
Toilet for the disabled......No
Verdict: If you enjoy the lunches, you will enjoy an evening there. If you’ve never been, put it on your to-do list.
Contact: 01665 576262 or www.shipinnnewton.co.uk