Fancy fine dining is one thing, and I am partial myself on occasion, but sometimes what you feel like is honest pub food.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that you want less care and attention paid to the food – pie and chips still needs to be cooked properly.
With this in mind, we headed to Longframlington on a midweek night last week hoping to be impressed with a meal at the one of the village’s two eating establishments.
The Village Inn feels like a real country pub inside and as well as people already eating, there were a few drinkers in, which is encouraging for a weeknight in these tough times for pubs.
What I liked was that there is a slight separation between the main pub area and the eating area, even extending to separate entrances. There is also a more upmarket dining area through the back – perfect for a slightly smarter occasion, such as an event or weekend out.
In terms of local and fresh food, the pub’s stall is set out very clearly at the start of the menu, which says: ‘We pride ourselves on using fresh and local produce.
‘All our meals are freshly prepared on the premises and cooked to order so please allow an extra few minutes when waiting for your meal.’
The suppliers of the produce are even listed, leaving you in no doubt about the provenance of the food.
Meat comes from award-winning Longframlington butchers R Green and Son, fish comes from M & J Seafoods in Peterlee and the kitchen uses David Carr from the village as its greengrocer.
Perhaps one could argue that the fish could be sourced closer to home in Northumberland, but at least you know what you’re getting.
And the real ale is about as local as you can get, with The Village Inn ‘very proud’ to offer its very own range for customers to sample.
They are brewed by the management team of Phil and Phil in their microbrewery which is situated on the road from Alnwick out to Lesbury.
A pint of Village Bike and another of Village Lite (both £3.20) meant both of us had a tasty, local tipple to wash down our food.
The menu offers a relatively concise selection of starters and mains, but each night the specials board adds another few choices.
On the night that we ate, it offered potato skins (£3.95), prawn cocktail (£4.95) and lentil soup to begin (£3.25), followed by either chicken breast (£10.95), belly pork with pease pudding (£13.95) or 10oz sirloin steak (£16.95). However, we opted for choices from the main menu.
On top of the starters, mains and specials selections, the menu also offers sections for sandwiches – utilising bread from Felton’s Running Fox bakery, salads and a children’s menu along with a variety of side dishes, sauces and accompaniments.
We decided to go for starters as well as mains, despite fearing large portion sizes. Happily, the starters were quite modest in size, offering a tasty warm-up act for the main event.
I went for the homemade bruscetta (£3.45), which saw tiny cubes of tomato, red onion and feta cheese served on garlic bread.
Nothing too complex, but it did the job of whetting my appetite for what was to follow. The tomato and feta tasted fresh and recently prepared.
On the other side of the table was the salt, pepper and chilli calamari (£4.95).
The squid rings were well cooked and not too tough, while the seasoning didn’t overpower the seafood, merely providing a nice peppery afterkick.
Suitably warmed up, we moved onto fish, chips and mushy peas (£9.50) and butterflied lime and chilli chicken breast (£9.95).
My moist piece of chicken came coated in a hot but sweet and sticky sauce which I really enjoyed.
The handcut chips that came with both meals were great – proper, thick chips that actually taste of potato, but with crispy skins.
The cod meanwhile was well cooked, offering clean white and flaky fish encased in a crisp batter.
Unfortunately we had no room for desserts, which are offered on a board rather than a permanent selection in the menu.
On offer were a homemade lemon meringue tart (£4.95), vanilla pannacotta (£4.95), a dark chocolate and orange torte (£4.95) or a trio of homemade doughnuts (£3.95).
Seriously tempting, but two courses was enough for a Thursday night.