Taking full advantage of a rare child-free day, when both my husband and I were off work, we decided to visit one of Alnwick’s newest eating places.
The Pantry, on Market Street, is part of NRP Foods Ltd, a bakery, butchery and more which also has the Driftwood Pantry in Amble and makes fantastic artisan bread, pies, cakes and other delights.
The Alnwick venue is one of the newest in the collection and is in the former home of Nood Food.
If the smell of cooking isn’t enough to entice you in, just a look through the window to see all the bread and cakes on offer will have you running up the steps and through the door.
The first point I have to make is how fantastic the customer service was.
We were welcomed by a very nice man, who was on his own at the time we arrived, and while busy with numerous other tables to attend to, still made time to greet us.
Taking a seat next to one of the radiators, we were in perfect position – warming up from the freezing temperatures outside and right next to the menu board.
All the food and drinks are listed on chalkboards on the wall, with a regular menu as well as a specials board.
At the front of the café, there is a row of high stools which look out onto the street, perfect for people-watching.
The rest of the venue is filled with big wooden tables and chairs with modern, fresh and welcoming decor.
Having spent the morning visiting schools to make a decision about which to send our eldest to, we were looking forward to some decent food and we weren’t disappointed.
The hardest part was choosing what to have!
Not only is there a selection of sandwiches and melts on artisan bread, alongside homemade soups (ham broth and red pepper and tomato were on offer), salads and an array of breakfast goods, there is also a plethora of different homemade pies, quiches and omelettes and, of course, cakes and bakes.
Trying to get back on track with Slimming World, I chose to have an omelette for £4.95 with ham, cheese and tomato (you get the choice of three fillings from a big list including onion, mushroom, peppers etc) while Mr M decided on a floating pie.
But then, of course, he had to choose which one!
Among the various options, including chilli burger, he went for the belly pork and haggis, on top of beans.
Despite being told there might be a wait our food, as everything is freshly prepared, our meals were with us very quickly.
The omelette was delicious. It came with a side salad and was oozing with cheese and chunks of proper ham. It was very filling and perfect on a cold day.
But it has to be said that the pie was the star of the show.
Sitting on top of a bowl of beans, it wasn’t the prettiest dish to look at. But what it lacked in appearance it made up for in flavour (of course I had to try it for review purposes).
With lovely crisp pastry and a very generous filling, it was sublime.
And those who know my husband will know when he said it was ‘canny good’ is praise indeed from him.
The pie came with some very fresh artisan bread and butter which was also given a good thumbs up.
We also ordered a pot of tea to go with our meals which arrived with milk in a mini milk bottle – a nice touch.
Full from my meal, and trying to be good, I declined a cake but Mr M thought it would only be a fair review if one was included.
After looking at the options, which included chocolate cake, lemon cake, carrot cake and a load of different traybakes, he went for the strawberry and vanilla. Again, we weren’t let down.
A huge wedge was delivered to the table. Filled with yummy jam and buttercream, it certainly filled any gap that was left. It wasn’t too sweet and the cake was really good.
If you haven’t been yet, you should go.
The food is great and the customer service is second to none.
The Pantry also offers a takeaway service and sells its artisan bread loaves on site as well.
We don’t often get the chance to go out without children in tow, and while The Pantry is most definitely a very child-friendly place, it was lovely to eat somewhere without two more sets of hands trying to grab your food!
After looking at the other food that was coming out of the kitchen we will most certainly be back, probably with kids.
MORE THAN JUST A COFFEE SHOP
The Pantry is more than just a coffee shop serving food. Not only is everything homemade and freshly prepared, but a host of other items are on offer.
Sunday lunches are on offer to eat in and take away, with roast beef, chicken or pork served with fresh vegetables, potatoes and homemade Yorkshire puddings for £7.50 (take away £6.50) for adults and £5.50 for kids/OAPs (take away £5).
Tapas nights also take place with a special night on offer for Valentine’s Day – but spaces are limited.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Full English (large)....£6.95
Poached/scrambled egg on artisan bread....£4
Artisan bread with jam/marmalade....£1.95
Tuna mayo/ham salad/egg mayo/BLT/cheese and onion....£4
Tuna and cheese/bacon, brie and cranberry/ham and cheese....£4.50
Cheese scone stack....£5.95
Sausage, beans and wedges....£3.95
Quiche and salad....£3.95
Pie and wedges....£4.95
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food....8
Use of local food....9
Toilet for disabled....No
Verdict: Lovely food with great service and lots of options.
Contact: 01665 606601 or visit www.northumberlandpantries.co.uk