The Fish Shack at Amble has served more than its fair share of celebrities in its relatively short life.
The latest to turn up at was none other than A-lister Harrison Ford who has been in the area during filming of the fifth instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise at Bamburgh Castle
The humble eaterie has also been the star of the show itself when Brenda Blethyn and the Vera team used it in an episode of the popular ITV crime drama.
So what is it that attracts such star-studded clientele? I took along my own celebrity, Mrs L, to find out.
The first thing you notice is how gloriously unpretentious it is. First appearances are of a ramshackle restaurant flanked by two halves of an upturned boat, which double up as exclusive, almost VIP tables.
Close your eyes and you feel as if you’ve just left the beach behind and turned up with sand still clinging to your toes, ready for a chilled-out chomp on the finest, freshest fare the hard-working fishermen of Amble have just landed.
Gentle music added to the relaxed atmosphere and took us back to a fabulous honeymoon visit to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
At its heart are ship containers that have recently been extended to provide a bigger kitchen and eating area. We sat in the front of the coastal diner, with serene views over packed picnic tables, across the River Coquet and up to the majestic Warkworth Castle.
As the evening sun streamed in, we absorbed the menu and specials blackboards, with a cool, tangy local pale ale Hickey The Rake, from Wylam Brewery, and a Chilean Merlot. Fish obviously dominated, but lamb kofta (£12.95), Shack burgers in a brioche bun (£12.95), veggie or halloumi burger (v, £12.95), and classic chicken parmo (£15.95) helped cater for other tastes.
While Harrison Ford chose to lunch on whole sardines (£11.95), a message to you, Indy ... we hit the specials!
I couldn’t resist the whole sea bream, served with twice-cooked chips, salad and curried mayonnaise (£16.95), while Mrs L took on the charcoaled rump steak, half-lobster, garlic butter sauce with chips and salad (£22.95).
But before those main courses, we started with New England-style chowder, with house-smoked haddock and blue-shell mussels (£8.95, main £14.95), and fresh Amble langoustines in a garlic and samphire butter (£8.95, main £16.95).
Both were sumptuous. That chowder is simply the best fish soup I’d had – so tasty and creamy, with chunks of smoked haddock, carrots and celery emerging from the depths, and a slice of artisan bread to mop up.
Opposite, the langoustines proved a real catch.
If the starters were stellar, the mains were out of this world. My sea bream was delicately delicious, as flavours of the sea blended neatly with the smear of lightly curried mayo and a crunchy salad. And as for those double-cooked chips – amazing! The posh surf and turf was greeted with a smile and approving noises.
We capped out meal with two of our favourite ice cream flavours, honeycomb and salted caramel. Needless to say, both rounded off the evening perfectly.
The service had been as friendly and attentive as the difficult Covid restrictions would allow. With such good quality local food and laid-back atmosphere, it was easy to see why the stars flock to the Fish Shack.