If you’re looking for a taste of northern France without the travel worries then you could do far worse than heading to Lucker.
The Apple Core, owned by leisure company the Stablewood Group, is the sister restaurant of The Apple Inn, located over the road from the pub in an impressively converted former nursery.
Gazette editor Paul Larkin dined at the Inn earlier this year, giving it an eight out of 10 and describing it as ‘home cooking in a friendly atmosphere’ and ‘well worth a visit’. So how would the outlet across the road fare?
The cuisine is different, with a focus on the Gallic – galettes and crêpes, although they also offer a wider Mediterranean vibe with a decent number of pizzas (also available to take away) and pastas.
To start off, I went for the local black pudding and chorizo salsa (£5.25), a no-brainer for me as black pudding and chorizo are both among my favourite ingredients. The ‘local’ black pudding was among one of the few mentions of local food on the extensive menu, but it was not specific.
Both meats were tasty as expected and the cubes were served in a tomato sauce that was richer and more flavoursome than many others I have tasted. It was served with some ciabatta – made on the premises so kudos for that – and a side salad.
This side salad, which was also served with our main courses, did not push the boat out too much, but the diced peppers were fresh and vibrant while also adding some Mediterranean colour to the dish. There’s no need for adventure when simple dishes made from decent ingredients will do just as well.
Across the table was the antipasto (£5.95 for one, but can be shared for £8.50), which went down very well and featured everything from olives to pastrami and Brie to salami, again with the ‘Coremade’ ciabatta, which was warm and crisp.
Given that The Apple Core is the only place that I know about in north Northumberland which serves galettes, or savoury pancakes, we both went down that route for our main course.
Helpfully, the menu contains a page explaining what galettes are and their background; they are a large thin pancake mostly associated with the region of Bretagne (Brittany).
Buckwheat can be grown in barren land and people in Bretagne have been eating the galette as a staple food for centuries. The dessert crêpe, made from wheat dough, appeared later.
If it’s good enough for the Bretons, then it’s good enough for me and mine came loaded with chicken, bacon and blue cheese (£8.50), while Mrs O opted for the bacon, Brie and cranberry (£8.50).
As well as the aforementioned salads, the galettes came with a crème fraîche dip and went down very nicely. The galette itself is lighter than you might expect, although the toppings were pleasingly rich.
We managed to save some room for dessert and my dining companion continued the theme and chose a crêpe with Nutella (£3.95), something she had never had before, despite me thinking that it was something that every English person who has visited France has had. Despite her first taste being in north Northumberland rather than in northern France, she was most satisfied.
I was going to follow suit until I discovered that the flavour for the sundae last week was banoffee (£5.25), another favourite of mine.
It was very tasty and not ridiculously large so I managed to wolf it all down.
My one minor niggle with the evening was that it took a while to be served when we first arrived. We were advised that it was busy and the staff did seem to be rushed off their feet, but the wait for our drinks was a little long.
I have no issue with waiting for food, particularly so as it usually means it is being cooked from fresh, but even at a busy period, if you get some drinks fairly promptly then you become more relaxed and can settle into the evening.
Having said that, the service overall was very friendly and later in the evening we were offered an apology for the wait, despite having made no mention of it.
VISITING FAMILIES WELL CATERED FOR
The pricing and wide variety of menu suggests that The Apple Core has one eye firmly on families on holiday in and visiting the area, which makes perfect sense given the parent company’s holiday developments in the village.
As part of this, there is a decent kids’ menu, with three courses and a cordial drink for £9.50. Two courses is £7.95 or one course is £4.95. There’s the likes of dough balls for starter, mini pizza or pasta dish for main and mini crêpes for dessert.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Soup of the day......£4.95
Salmon & cream cheese bruschetta......£5.25
Goat’s cheese and sun-dried tomato stack......£5.25
Meat feast pizza......£9.95
Meat dish of the day......£9.95
Chicken Caesar salad......£7.95
Cheese & ham galette......£7.95
Verdure miste galette (roasted vegetables, feta and pesto)......£8.25
Cheesecake of the day......£5.25
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......9
Use of local food......Little mention
Toilet for the disabled......Yes
Cater for children......Yes
Verdict: Well-cooked food and friendly service in a venue which offers something a little different.
Contact: 01668 219114 or www.theapplecorelucker.com
The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed The Commissioners Quay Inn, Blyth. And if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.