MEAL REVIEW: The Amble Inn, Sandpiper Way
It has finally opened after a lot of hard work all round, a considerable fanfare and no little excitement.
The Amble Inn opened its doors to the world on Monday and gave the most genial welcome to visitors and everyone within The Friendliest Port.
The custom-built hotel, restaurant and pub joins a long list of eateries to flock to a regenerated Amble in recent years.
And our first impressions were that it will be a very popular addition.
Part of the Inn Collection Group (ICG) stable that includes the Hog’s Head Inn at Alnwick, the Lindisfarne Inn at Beal and the Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses, it has been created in very much the same mould.
There is a definite focus on comfort. The building itself gives a warm welcome with its traditional decor and ambience. There are plenty of nooks and crannies that offer the intimacy for couples, yet there is plenty of space for parties to enjoy a night out.
Subtle lighting, wooden furnishings, nautical artefacts, comfy armchairs, a mixture of styles from floral and swirls to tartan and stripes – there’s really something for everyone. If you have been to any of the other ICG venues, you’ll recognise it in an instant and feel immediately at home.
The menus are also familiar, although not a carbon copy. A selection of pub favourites, with the odd surprise thrown in for good measure, cooked to order and at reasonable prices seems to be the order of the day.
The Gazette team was invited to be guinea pigs for the operation before it opened officially. And what a fine evening we had!
The staff were friendly and efficient – you would never know it was their first day. Apart from a couple of understandable early menu hiccups, the food was generally excellent and we all agreed a return visit was definitely on the cards.
We chose a selection of dishes – our brief was to test the chefs and waiting staff.
On the starter front, we plumped for crispy Creole prawns (king prawns coated in Creole-seasoned batter and served with house slaw and Amble Inn dirty sauce, £5.95), which was delicious, spicy and a satisfying start to any meal.
Soup of the day (£4.95) was leek and potato. Our taster declared it delicious – creamy and flavoursome, with a generous helping of bread and butter on the side. If we were being picky, it could have been hotter.
The Thai-style fishcakes (£5.95) were tasty, but a strange texture. Their pink appearance gave an oriental edge and there were plenty of fresh flavours. The accompanying beansprouts and Asian slaw were a welcome antidote to the chilli.
Onto the main course, and the enjoyment continued.
The homemade steak and real ale pie (£9.95) was a treat, with a shortcrust pastry topping and an interesting filling – chunks of tender steak and carrots in a light, thin but tasty gravy.
The dirty burger (£9.95) was topped with a creamy chipotle sauce. The patty was meaty and well seasoned and definitely enjoyed.
The hake Madras (£10.95) was a crowd-pleaser. A tasty fillet of fish, covered in a spicy sauce and sitting on a bed of rice, drew admiring glances – and probing forks – from fellow diners.
A meat-free option was also selected – smoked puy lentil and bean burger (£8.95). It came with a generous portion of proper chips and a small pot of house slaw. The burger was paprika smoky, although a little dry. It could have benefitted from a pot of relish or a larger helping of slaw to moisten it up a bit.
Unfortunately, there were no lobsters available on the night so steak and lobster became just steak (£16.95) – and a decent steak at that. Whatever the request – rare, medium-rare, medium – they were cooked to perfection.
Steaks were accompanied by a giant tomato and Portobello mushroom.
And the chips with all meals were chunky, crispy and so, so good!
We dipped into the desserts, with a divine raspberry cheesecake (£5.25) being a favourite – a thick, crunchy, buttery base and a delicious light raspberry topping.
The sticky toffee pudding (£4.95) was popular – all gooey, moist and decadent.
Raspberry frangipane (£4.95), served with a dinky jug of custard, was also a treat.
The Northumbrian cheese board (£6.50), with copious amounts of cheese, also rounded off the meal nicely for a couple of the team.
PERFECT PLACE TO CATER FOR KIDS
It’s a high-five for The Amble Inn’s menu for children. Main courses include fish bites, bolognese pasta, sausage and mash, cheeseburger, pepperoni pizza, cheese and tomato pizza and chicken breast. Each meal will set you back £4.50, or you can add a dessert (ice-cream cone, waffles and chocolate sauce, sticky toffee pudding or fruit salad) for £5.25 for the two courses.
Breakfasts are served from 7.30am to 11am for non-residents and they sound scrumptious! A full Northumbrian costs £9 and a full vegetarian breakfast is £8, although the Craster kippers served with brown toast (£8.25) would be our choice.
And if you’re peckish throughout the day, there are a selection of light bites to keep you going: Chef’s quiche of the day (with house salad and new potatoes), £5.95; fish and chips, £5.95; scampi and chips, £5.95; 4oz brick-cut steak, £7.95.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Garlic dough balls......£5.25
Spicy chicken wings......£5.25
Fish and chips......£10.95
Scampi and chips......£10.95
Chicken and Stilton......£10.95
Slow-cooked beef casserole......£11.95
Surf and turf burger......£11.95
Roasted veg & rocket pizza......£8.95
Brick-cut rump steak......£16.95
Red lentil & spinach linguine......£8.95
Steak and lobster......£29.95
Waffles and ice-cream......£5.75
Sticky toffee pudding £4.95
Spurreli’s ice-cream, 2 scoops £3.75
Contact: 01665 613 333 or visit https://theambleinnamble.co.uk