Some of you may think I’m crazy reviewing an ice-cream parlour in the cold, bleak midwinter.
But there’s method in my madness.
Firstly, I know how busy Spurreli’s at Amble can get in the summer, the more traditional season for cornets, cones and tubs – I have witnessed the queues myself. Surely the wait for my mint chocolate chip would not be so severe in November.
Secondly, my little indulgence should last that bit longer in these temperatures rather than melting and running down my arm, attracting a swarm of sweet-toothed, or mandibled, insects. I wasn’t entirely accurate on either count.
When we arrived, it was packed, not a seat to be had, and there were several waiting to be served. So we headed off to the harbour and the pods to have a mosey.
And on our return on a bitter, Baltic day, the comfortable warmth inside allowed us to thaw nicely.
Spurreli’s has been in the vanguard of the incredible revolution at Amble that has transformed it into an outstanding gastrohub.
The parlour itself has been so successful that there are plans afoot to double its size on a neighbouring site. The project has been given the green light and could be complete next year.
It’s a deserved expansion after all the hard work that has gone into the café, its first-class products and the community.
The business was started in August 2010 by husband and wife team Nick and Kate Spurr and it has gone from strength to strength.
It was based on their delicious ice-cream, which has won many awards along the way, including a coveted Golden Fork Award for its Pure Sicilian Pistachio flavour, which was crowned the best speciality food in the North of England in the Great Taste Awards just 12 months after opening.
Even then their ethos was based on local ingredients and they became a firm favourite at the Alnwick Food Festival, their produce receiving praise from French celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.
And in 2014, it scooped top place among the country’s ice-cream parlours on travel review website, TripAdvisor.
So, it certainly has a fine pedigree and our visit confirmed that quality.
The building itself, a converted RNLI base, is not the prettiest, nor is the view particularly inspiring – it really needs that rebuild to catch up with the smart development around it.
But once inside, the welcome is as warm and friendly as you’ll get anywhere.
It’s diner-like in style with a strong nod to the seaside, thanks to whitewashed wooden panelling and the odd ship picture.
The array of ice-cream flavours is mind-boggling and inventive – liquorice and blackcurrant, gingerbread man, Baileys, white chocolate, wild berry crumble, among others – whatever floats your boat. But, in my experience, whatever you plump for, you’ll not be disappointed.
There was also a strong hint of Christmas, which is what attracted Mrs L to the combination of a scoop of mince pie ice-cream (£2.60) and a glass of mulled wine (£3).
I wanted a bowl of soup (roast veg and tomato, £5.50) to warm my cockles but too many others had harboured the same idea and there was none left, so I settled for sour cherry, chocolate and hazelnut tiffin (£2.40) and an Americano coffee (£2).
The tiffin was as gorgeous as it sounded – a lovely combination of flavours, with the hazelnut really coming through to please this nut fan. And the coffee was a proper treat, particularly that late in the day when I would normally opt for tea.
Christmas was definitely happening opposite and a quick taste of the delicious ice-cream persuaded me to return to the counter to order a single scoop of the Alnwick Rum and raisin.
It certainly was among the best ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, rich, creamy and so, so moreish.
The mulled wine was piping hot and accompanied by a slice of orange with cloves. I ordered another! A good selection of festive tunes also helped to herald the season to be jolly.
Despite it being a Sunday, we managed to resist the urge to order a sundae (£6.95; or sharing £12) but noted in our diaries to return to sample one of the delicious-sounding creations. Here’s a flavour: Hot Choc Fudge Frenzy – hot choc fudge brownie doused in dulce leche sauce, three scoops of vanilla ice-cream, big dollop of fresh cream, cigar wafers, chopped nuts, choc and caramello sauces.
Or how about a Wor Billy’s, a Spurreli twist on a classic Neopolitan ice-cream – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice-cream, drizzled with a chunky berry coulis, strawberry sauce and cherry? Tempted?
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
One scoop, £2.60; two scoops, £3.60; three scoops, £4.60. Various flavours, including Turkish Delight, elderberry and ginger, lemon curd, peaches and cream, lemon meringue, strawberry, mint, sticky toffee fudge, chocolate.
Sundaes (£6.95; sharing £12)
Cookie Rock Bottom – sticky toffee & vanilla ice-cream, choc sauce, mini cookies, marshmallows, cherry.
Take My Cherry – Begian chocolate and cherry ice-cream, rippled with cherry variegato, stracciatella, frozen chocolate over freshly whipped cream, finished with choc curls.
Spurreli Berry Mess – strawberry and vanilla ice-cream, strawberry sauce , berries and fresh cream, muddled with meringue and cherry.
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......9
Use of local food......8
Value for money......8
Access for the disabled......9
Toilet for the disabled......Yes
Verdict: More than just a treat, Spurreli needs to be on everyone’s bucket list.
Contact: 01665 710890