Plenty of tourists and day trippers are drawn to this picture postcard corner of the county thanks to its natural beauty – and there’s plenty of quality independent cafes and restaurants to keep them well fuelled on their visit.
Relative newcomer The Whittling House joined that roster last year after a major refit of the old Saddle Grill Hotel and Hooked restaurant site in Northumberland Street to create a 10-bedroom luxury hotel and restaurant.
It’s an elegant addition to this main street and though its heritage blue colour palette, panelling detail and French bistro-style wall lamps look luxurious, it’s very much laid-back luxury where walkers are encouraged to brush down their boots and get stuck in.
It was a bustling Saturday afternoon when we visited after blowing the cobwebs away on our beach walk, but the very cheery greeter found us a table for two in the large bar and dining area, which has lots of cosy corners to sink into – as well as dog friendly tables for those with four-legged friends in tow.
The menu doffs its cap to Northumberland’s rich natural larder with locally-sourced seafood and meats a main player, alongside veggie and vegan options.
It’s not a vast choice, but it’s got something for most palates, from local dressed crab salad (£19) and grills (a fillet will set you back £32) to lobster (£26 for a half) and beetroot gnocchi with local blue cheese (£16) and, of course, the obligatory Lindisfarne oysters (six for £18).
It’s not the cheapest of menus either, but you get plenty for your pounds, with hearty portions to fill a hole after a walk.
I ordered from the starters menu – ham croquettes (£10) and got two chunky tubes with a perfectly crisp bite into the moreish serrano ham and cheese blend inside. Perfect for dunking in the accompanying tomato chutney.
My sourdough side, from local bakery Bread & Roses, (£4.50) was the kind of bread so good that it didn’t need dressing, but I smothered it in the French butter regardless.
My friend relished her choice of lager and lemon fresh battered haddock – and plenty of it – pea puree, homemade satisfyingly chunky tartar sauce and perfectly-fluffy triple cooked chips (£16). Not as a greasy or heavy as the chippy version, but just as filling, it was pub grub perfection.
There’s a decent wine list indeed with a substantial choice of red and whites, as well as sparkling wines, Champagnes and rosés. Most are by the bottle but you can pick up a refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio for £4.95 or, if you’re feeling flush a bottle of Laurent-Perrier rosé is £95.
Special mention too for our server who really added to our experience and made us feel right at home. We’re already planning a return visit to check out the Sunday lunches.
:: The Whittling House, Alnmouth, is open seven days a week, from 7.30am for breakfasts through to dinner service until 9pm.