Review: Carnaby's serves up a treat for local diners and A1 drivers
When Little Chef closed its doors at Brownieside in 2004, there seemed little prospect of better days ahead for roadside dining at the site.
The years went by until the building was finally demolished in 2013 and it seemed that was that.
But what a transformation in its fortunes there has been since the Haggerston family, who have farmed the countryside around Ellingham for centuries, opened Carnaby’s in 2017.
Sisters Caroline and Clare set out to create a stylish and modern destination eatery, a place where they themselves would like to eat, relax and shop. And they named its after their grandfather, Sir Carnaby Haggerston.
The Northumberland Gazette reviewed it shortly after it opened and was wowed by its contemporary, yet rustic, bistro producing freshly-prepared and cooked dishes, homemade cakes, lovingly-constructed sandwiches, healthy salads and the odd hearty meal.
But has that initial excellence been maintained, especially with the ravages of the Covid pandemic to contend with over the past 18 months?
We’re delighted to say it has – and others would seem to agree judging by the steady stream of local residents and passing trade who popped in during our visit on a lovely summer’s day.
It can’t be an easy task catering for their varied requirements, whether it be locals lingering over coffee and a cake, others wanting a slap-up lunch or those seeking a quick bite to eat as they make their way along the A1 between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Our visit was my wife’s birthday treat after she made a rather unusual request for salad. She genuinely loves it when it’s done well.
She selected a three salads option. She declared the courgette, feta and pomegranate salad with a lemon and mint dressing as her favourite and said it was delicious. She was also delighted with the Waldorf salad, while her third selection was a broccoli, walnut and bacon salad. She would have preferred a vinaigrette dressing rather than the creamy dressing it was served with – and a bit more bacon – but two out of three is pretty good.
Still, she seemed happy and declared herself full – although some of our chips mysteriously went missing!
Now I’m not really the salad-type but the club sandwich was right up my street with chunks of chicken coated in mayonnaise and layers of crispy bacon. It was delicious and there was plenty of it.
The menu is big enough to suit most tastes with a splendid array of home-baked cakes, sausage rolls, quiches and pastries on display at the deli counter.
There is a separate children’s menu with ours both happy to have chosen the fish goujons and chips.
There is no need to pre-book and the vast barn-like space is ideally suited to the ‘new normal’ with plenty of light and airy space for indoor dining and glass doors opening up to outside seating and a children’s play area.
There is also a shop at the entrance selling gifts, homeware and fashion.
For more details visit https://www.carnabyscafe.co.uk/