It’s panto season, and for an entertainment reporter that means a lot of visits to theatres across the region to see what classic tales are being taken to the stage.
Last weekend, it was Whitley Bay’s turn, where the Playhouse is showing Peter Pan.
And I have been itching to see the newly-renovated Spanish City since it reopened in the summer.
After closing in 2000, it has been restored to become a beautiful dining and leisure venue for North Tyneside.
On a blustery, wet and freezing cold Saturday afternoon, it was the perfect pre-theatre stop-off.
The building, which overlooks the coast, has various eating establishments, from the 1910 Steak and Seafood restaurant to a Waffle and Pancake House and Valerie’s Tearoom, as well as a Champagne bar and more. But we decided, being by the coast, to go for Trenchers.
Traditionally a fish and chip restaurant, it is in a special spot downstairs in the centre, underneath the iconic dome – which is just beautiful.
And we were fortunate enough to be sat right underneath it and next to the stunning, and incredibly tall, Christmas tree.
Trenchers has been operating in Whitby for 40 years, so we had high hopes of delicious food.
No sooner had we been seated than a waitress came to take a drinks order.
For a predominantly fish and chip restaurant, there is an extensive menu with the usual battered goodness as well as some more luxury offerings and other dishes to boot.
And the children’s menu is great too.
For £6.95, they can have three courses or it is £4.95 for just a main.
We opted for the three courses – as £2 extra for a dessert, starter and drink is a no-brainer in my opinion.
Children are given a choice of potatoes (chips, mash or new) and sides (beans, mushy peas, garden peas or vegetables).
Master M chose fish bites with chips and vegetables, while Miss M went for lasagne with mash and vegetables.
There was only one option for starters – crudités and hummus – which is fine by my children but may not be to everyone’s tastes.
After perusing the menu and wavering between different options, I decided to go for a large haddock and chips (£13.95, small £9.95/reg £11.95), while Mr M went for the fish pie (£11.95).
A quick toilet trip, a favourite of my children’s to check the facilities, and the kids’ starters had arrived – strips of cucumber, carrot and peppers and a pot of homemade (I think) hummus.
No sooner had they finished than the main courses arrived. The kids had decent portions – three big fish bites for the little man with a decent serving of chips and veg, and a big bowl of lasagne for the little lady. All were devoured so they must have been good.
My fish was beautiful. I would have liked a thinner batter, but it was fresh and delicious. The chips were good but nothing to write home about, and I had a portion of mushy peas, which were fine.
Mr M seemed to enjoy his fish pie which was filled with prawns, salmon and white fish, but he said there was far more sauce and mashed potato than fish and it wasn’t hot or cold, but somewhere in the middle which detracted from it somewhat. But it was still eaten up.
We can’t go for food with our children without something sweet to finish off the meal. So, while the kids had a chocolate brownie and ice cream and an ice cream sundae, I went for sticky toffee pudding and cream and Mr M had the Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.
All were absolutely delicious and if the plates could have been licked clean, they would have been.
The service was fantastic. Our waitress saw my daughter taking an interest in the iPad she was using for logging our choices and even let her have a go at pressing the buttons.
It was a nice meal, we all left with full tummies and would return, although I would like to try some of the other eateries at the Spanish City as well.
NEW LEASE OF LIFE FOR SPANISH CITY
The refurbished Spanish City reopened this summer, after plans for its redevelopment were unveiled following its closure in 2000.
Work undertaken has included the restoration and repair of many previously lost original features and the addition of modern spaces, a new car park and refurbishment of the famous ‘dancing ladies’.
The ceiling of the central space has also been removed from the ground floor, allowing visitors to see the dome in all its glory from inside for the first time in over 100 years, while railings in the building’s original style have been reinstated on the surrounding gallery.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Grilled fillet of mackerel......£8.50
Trenchers fish curry......£16.95
Trenchers fish board......£15.95
Vegetable lasagne al forno......£11.95
Prawn & crayfish salad......£11.95
Bread and butter......£0.35
Chocolate fudge cake......£5.95
Sticky toffee pudding......£5.95
Selection of artisan ice cream......£4.95
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......7
Value for money......7
Access for disabled......8
Toilet for disabled......Yes
Verdict: Good food in a beautiful building with great service.
Contact: spanishcity.co.uk or 0191 691 7090