Review: The Old Boat House, Amble – Fresh fish, no frills, lots of thrills

I’m always excited when I book a table at a restaurant on my ‘list’ but I was especially buzzing as I pencilled in an early Monday evening trip to The Old Boat House, Amble.I’d heard lots of good things about the food and the service and I’d been hearing those things not just from other food-obsessed types, but from locals I’d bumped into who can’t seem to get enough of the place. My second reason for being extra-specially giddy about the trip was because the Boat House, which has set up home in the old RNLI building on Leazes Street, Amble, specialises in fish and I ruddy love fish – shellfish, river fish and fresh out of the sea fish. And, looking out onto the North Sea, The Old Boathouse has a menu built around the freshest local catches.

Keeping me company in the packed restaurant at 6.45pm was Pa Berg, who finally caved and allowed me to take him for a Father’s Day meal (read this post to find out why this was another reason to be giddy). The restaurant itself features quite simple deco – plain painted walls, a few marine related pictures, lovely wooden tables and benches and a view into the very busy kitchen and unrivalled views out onto the North Sea towards Warkworth. I’m not a fan of over formal dining so this simple look put me at ease, as did the two friendly waitresses who served us on the night and did a fine job despite the place being crazy busy for a Monday evening.

Although the specials weren’t read to us we were directed towards two chalk boards on the walls, which had lots of tempting things on them – not least a mango and cod combo that had me salivating. However, one of the unspoken conditions of Pa Berg allowing me to take him out to dinner was that it wouldn’t cost me too much money. Now, dad and I have rather different ideas as to what a lot of money is when it comes to dinner out, but as I wanted to try a couple of courses I decided to save the specials board for another day and choose off the daily menu, which looks like this:

The Old Boat House Amble, Menu

We’d spotted the pizza oven on the way in and I have to admit I was severely tempted by a spicy sausage pizza but I wasn’t about to bypass the sea’s wares in its favour when I witnessed generous scallop and crab cake starters being delivered to a nearby table. Slightly disappointed that my first choice of mussels had sold out, Pa and I both opted for the Old Boat House fish and chips at £10. To wash it down I indulged my shameful addiction to diet coke and the elder Berg tested out a local blonde beer, which was summed up as: “Good, yeah, I’d drink it again”.

Golden Plover beer bottle

Allendale’s Golden Plover Pale Ale – it tastes good with fish and chips

Despite the busy-ness, our fish and chips arrived pretty speedily and the platefuls were beauts! There was a large stack of chips, which looked and tasted like they’d each been carved from a near whole new potato, the fish (cod, I checked) was a decent size and came in an extra light and crisp batter – not so thick as to be too much of a barrier to the perfectly cooked fish,which I drenched in freshly squeezed lemon and proceeded to coat in tartare. The tartare itself was a real winner – as a condiment fan I find myself sometimes paying more attention to the sauces that accompany meals than the meals themselves and the pile of capers and gherkins in this tartare had me dying to lick it off the plate. I unashamedly licked the sauce off my lemon but stopped short of dipping head to plate, I think Pa Berg would have been all for this if it wasn’t for all of the other diners. I think there were about ten tables in total and all were full by the time we were eating. I should also mention the peas, which had a lovely sweetness from a dose of fresh mint and looked great, but which I couldn’t finish purely because I’m not a big pea fan due to the texture. This meant that Pa polished off most of my peas, along with my remaining chips. Here’s how the main event looked:

fish and chips from the old boat house album

fish, chips and tart tartare

Look at those big chunky chips! Of course, fish and chips is a fairly standard tea for most but these really did taste extra special and before long Pa was pretty pleased that I’d twisted his arm. Now, having seen the portion above you’d be excused for thinking I’d skip dessert. I didn’t. I’ve become a real greedy guts when it comes to dessert when eating out recently and I’d spotted the sticky toffee pudding early on. Persuading dad into consuming pudding was made easier by the presence of a white chocolate and sloe gin cheesecake on the menu – dad loves cheesecake and though at £5.50 it was a little more than he said he’d usually pay if he was footing the bill, when it arrived he was soon won over by the quality and the generous portion.

cheesecake made with white chocolate and sloe gin

A proper chunk of white chocolate and sloe gin cheesecake

There was a slightly longer wait between our main and dessert but only about 20 minutes. We were happily chatting away so this wasn’t a problem and when my sticky toffee pudding (£5.50) arrived studded with dates and complete with buttery toffee sauce, it was definitely worth the wait.

sticky toffee pudding from The Old Boat House, Amble

Gooey, chewy, soft, sticky, gorgeous!

Though the cake was very moist and there was certainly not a lack of sticky toffee sauce, I did find myself wishing that it came with a wee splodge of cream or ice cream. I took matters into my own hands and stole some of the portion of cream that came with dad’s cheesecake, which for the record, was divine! White chocolate dishes don’t usually impress me, but this was light and creamy and sweet without being overpowered by sugar and there was just a slight hint of the sloe gin after. Oh and the base was dare I say it…a big, thick, buttery biscuit base.

The total bill came to £36.50, which isn’t the cheapest for fish and chips and a pud, but these were some of the best I’ve had and I’ll certainly be heading back for more and to digest some of the scenery too. After our meal we took a walk up the pier and were treated to this stunning view.

A view of amble pier at night

View from Amble pier at night

The Old Boat House don’t have a website but they do have a Facebook page and I’d definitely advise booking if you intend to head along – many people came in while we were dining and were turned away or asked to come along a little later and this was early evening at the start of the week. The restaurant is also open on a Sunday when it offers special two course (£12) and three course (£15) deals, which dad has already expressed an interest in testing out soon.

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