MEAL REVIEW: The Sun Inn, Alnmouth

Smoked haddock and Northumbrian cheese fishcakes at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.
Smoked haddock and Northumbrian cheese fishcakes at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

It was somewhat appropriate that a team from The Sun Inn was victorious in one of Alnmouth’s annual charity challenges last week.

Calling themselves The Volcanologists, quiz night regulars worked out the best way to beat the waves and keep their sandcastle volcano alight the longest. Incidentally, they won at the same pitch (number 11) as the successful Gazette team two years ago.

Mussels at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

Mussels at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

The Sun Inn has placed itself at the heart of activities in the village and has a particularly keen involvement in the yearly raft race.

It has also undergone quite a face-lift, these days sporting a fresh, yellow exterior and warm, cosy decor inside. It is a typical English country pub with square-patterned carpet, brick fireplace, low lighting and plenty of driftwood artefacts, including candleholders on the chunky wooden tables, clocks and a splendid sun above the fire.

We landed unannounced on a busy Saturday night and were immediately struck by the friendly welcome. There were smiles and cheery vibes from all the bar staff and the buzz-words all night seemed to be, ‘no problem’.

My wife and I were early enough to be squeezed onto a table that had been reserved from 8pm – it was no problem!

Crayfish salad starter at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

Crayfish salad starter at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

The pub is small and popular, so it is advisable to book.

There is a little dining area at the back for those who prefer to get away from the bustle of the bar.

The menu is likewise small but perfectly formed with a good mixture of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes.

I counted 11 main courses, of which two were vegetarian. There was nothing amazingly adventurous, just solid bar fare. Personally, I prefer limited menus because there is more chance that the food will be freshly cooked.

Craster kipper pate at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

Craster kipper pate at The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

The specials board was a bit disappointing, though, with only one main course. I was told that there are usually more, it just depends on what produce is available and what has already sold out.

There was a sprinkling of local produce, with Craster kipper pâté (starter, £5.95) and Craster crab salad (main, £10.95) being the Northumbrian flag bearers. I gather they do try to source as much as possible locally.

I had ordered a pint of Marston’s English Pale Ale and Mrs L had a small bottle of red wine while we considered the options.

So to our choices. I couldn’t resist the crayfish summer salad (£5.95) to start followed by the special-board offering of smoked haddock and Northumberland cheese fishcakes with chips and salad (£10.95), despite being sorely tempted by the tarragon chicken served over crushed new potatoes and spinach (£10.95). Next time!

The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

The Sun Inn, Alnmouth.

The order from across the table was for the kipper pâté starter, served with salad leaves and crusty warm bread, then mussels in a white wine, garlic and red onion sauce, served with frites and crusty French baguette for main meal (£12.95).

I enjoyed both my courses. The salads accompanying both were fresh, colourful and crispy, with mixed leaves rubbing shoulders with traffic-light peppers (yellow, green and red), cherry tomatoes, cucumber and red onion.

The crayfish came in a Marie Rose sauce, topped with lemon and sprinkled with garnish. Neatly presented on oblong plates, with a decent taste to match.

The highlight of my meal was the generously-sized fishcakes. A chunky fish, not too smoky, gave way to a heart of pleasant, melted cheese.

The chips were ok, plentiful but not hand-cut. Neither course had been spectacular but were delicately-flavoured and did the job of knocking hunger on the head.

My wife’s opinion was similar. Her Craster kipper pâté was not very firm nor did it have an overpowering flavour.

Her mussels arrived in a large black pan and were fine, although a good few were closed and not worth the risk. The white wine sauce complemented them well.

Care had been taken over the presentation of all our dishes and we did not have to wait very long for either course. Desserts were beyond our appetites and we were approaching the deadline to vacate, but starting at £3.50, they seemed a snip. I was told afterwards that most are homemade but some are not, so I would advise asking before ordering.

It had been a pleasant all-round experience. A comfortable, friendly and bordering-on-vibrant atmosphere and pretty decent food at reasonable prices.

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

STARTERS

Craster kipper pâté £5.95

To share, roasted Camembert £8.95

Tempura king prawns £5.95

Crayfish summer salad £5.95

Anti-pasta, Italian meats £8.95

MAINS

8oz Angus burger, chips, salad £9.95

Breaded wholetail scampi £10.95

Antonio’s homemade lasagne £10.95

Braised lamb shank £12.95

Craster crab salad £10.95

8oz fillet steak £19.95

Homemade 8oz Angus burger £9.95

Medley of seafood £11.95

Braised lamb shank £12.95

Breaded wholetail scampi £10.95

Goats’ cheese salad (v) £9.95

Pesto linguine, peppers, tom’s (v) £9.95

DESSERTS (from £3.50)

Banoffee pie, apple pie, toffee cheesecake, hot chocolate fudge cake.

INN COULDN’T DO MORE TO ACCOMMODATE

The children’s menu reflects the adult one and also has a limited choice – chicken goujons, scampi or bangers, all served with chips and beans and each £5.50. But if a parent has a special request, staff will always do their best to accommodate.

Vegetarians beware, though – there are only a couple of suitable choices for you.

Star ratings (out of 10)

Quality of food 7.5

Choice 7.5

Vegetarian choice 6

Value for money 8.5

Atmosphere 9

Service 9

Use of local produce 8

Children catered for 8

Toilet for disabled No

Access for disabled (good, apart from toilets, which have a step) 7

Overall rating 8

Verdict: Friendly atmosphere, standard menu well-cooked. Worth a visit. Might see you there!

Contact: Call 01665 830 983 or text 07740 355 441 or visit sun-inn-alnmouth.co.uk