The picture-postcard village of Alnmouth, perched precariously on the Northumberland coast, is not a place that embraces change lightly.
Thankfully, the pace of life is relatively relaxed and the iconic streets have stood the test of time. It’s a different kettle of fish in the summer months, but that’s a different story.
So when there is a sea-change like a new one-way system, it is the talk of the village and makes headline news. What better excuse to head for the seaside and see the road layout for myself.
It was late Sunday afternoon (in the middle of December) and Alnmouth was deserted! So perhaps it wasn’t the best time to do a road test, but while we there, we called into the Village Tearoom, which has had some rave reviews, particularly on TripAdvisor, the user-generated website.
It is currently ranked as number one restaurant in Alnmouth, number two in the Alnwick area and received a Certificate of Excellence last year.
Having negotiated our way into the village via the lower road past the golf club, we parked up and headed in .
We opened the door, a bell rang and a disembodied voice uttered a cheery welcome. The bell had warned her of our entrance.
The grey, washed wooden cladding and cream walls were ideal for the coastal location, as driftwood sculptures and ornaments completed the nautical theme. Everything was dainty – even the twig-like Christmas tree in the window was delicate and classy.
Gentle sounds from Smooth Radio provided a suitable ambience.
Sat by the window, we had the perfect view of the passing traffic, from left to right only.
I prayed for a track from One Direction to be played over the airwaves to give me a route into this article, but it was not to be!
Instead, we perused the menu and studied the specials board, which informed us the soup of the day was tomato and red pepper, and a bacon and cheese melt, with salad and crisps (£4.50), was available.
After I discovered we had arrived too late for the quiche, which had been gobbled up before we arrived, my eye was drawn to the chicken and ham pie, served with mushy peas and gravy (£4.95), chalked on the blackboard. We were surrounded by a cornucopia of home-baking, so I also couldn’t resist ordering cake by the ocean. I opted for apple and caramel pie, warmed with added ice-cream (£3.90).
Mrs L took on the challenge of the monster Afternoon Tea – a round of sandwiches, fruit scone with jam and cream and a slice of cake (£9.50). She chose crab filling for her sandwich, for £2 extra, and carrot cake.
Our pot of tea for two arrived in the blink of the aforementioned eye.
And shortly afterwards our feast landed – all on pretty, floral crockery. My pie was obviously handmade and not straight from a factory or a packet.
It was very tasty, although a bit soggy after being ‘warmed through’. It combined nicely with the mushy peas – just what the doctor ordered on a bracing mid-winter day.
I looked at the tower opposite and wondered whether Mrs L would be able to chomp through it, or even be finished by the time the tearoom closed at 4pm.
But she did me proud! The crab sandwiches, which were accompanied by a claw and chunk of meat to prove the filling was genuine, were polished off in no time.
“Absolutely delicious” were the only words uttered.
The scone soon followed, spread liberally with jam and cream and down the hatch. My compliments to the baker, too. A quick sample revealed a scone that would triumph in many a village show round-abouts.
She struggled a bit with the carrot cake, but only because she had over-stretched herself. It was baking at its finest – Mary Berry would have been proud to call it her own.
My apple and caramel creation was equally yummy, although, again a bit stodgy.
The service had been cheery and efficient throughout, with the added bonus of getting the low-down on the new road layout!
COSY LOCATION FOR BREAKFAST TREATS
The tearoom was cosy in the extreme. Our helpful waitress also put on a small heater for added comfort. We imagined just how delightful a brisk early-morning walk along the beach followed by a breakfast in the café would be. Handily, the breakfast menu was on the table to help with that dream. A bacon sarnie for £2.95; bacon, egg, beans and toast for £4.50; eggs on toast for £2.50; beans on toast for £2.50; toast and jam for £1.50; extras, such as egg or bacon, for 50p – sound tempting?
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Ploughman’s lunch (with three local Northumberland cheeses......£6.50
Quiche, with salad......£5.75
Fresh crab sandwich......£6.20
Soup and sandwich......£7.50
Soup and stottie......£4.20
Fillings: Ham, cheese, tuna mayo, egg mayo, coronation chicken, savoury cheese, beef......£4.15
Hot beef stottie......£4.75
Chocolate fudge cake......£3
Victoria sponge cake......£3
Carrot cake (gluten-free)......£3.20
Speciality and fruit teas......£2
STAR RATINGS (OUT OF 10)
Quality of food 8
Vegetarian choice 8
Use of local food 8
Access for the disabled 7
Toilet for the disabled No
Overall rating 8
Verdict: Quintessential quaint English café, with home-baked goodies and friendly, warm service.
Contact: 01665 830310