The Old Boat House in Amble hugs the harbourside in this on-the-up fishing village in Northumberland. It looks pretty basic but as settings go it’s unrivalled; right by the water and within a net’s throw of the fishing fleet. If you’re a fan of the fishy stuff expect food pleasures galore.
The Old Boat House has charm written all over it. The place is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a bit shack-like with scrubbed wooden tables, menus on blackboards and coastal photography lining the walls. You can see the kitchen in action at the back of the restaurant and take in the aromas of the wood-fired oven.
Champagne with your freshly-caught lobster? A charming dry white with your seabass? Or, the perfect combo of a cuppa with your bacon buttie on a frosty morning goes down perfectly well.
The joy of the Old Boat House lies in its proximity to the fishing boats of Amble and the Northumberland coast. Much of the menu is straight from the boats and the chefs take a pride in supporting the local fishing industry. Amble is staking its claim to rival Rick Stein’s Padstow – word is out and the crowds are flocking.
What we ate
On a calm Thursday evening just as the sun was going down, this place was a little slice of seafood heaven – outside and in. It was packed to the rafters with hungry folk devouring fabulous seafood in all its guises – from towering seafood platters to hearty fish and chips. Clearly booking is advised.
There’s a specials board with the day’s catch served up inventively.
From it we added razor clams (£7.95) to our starters – along with half a dozen Holy Island oysters (£12). Lindisfarne oysters are always a favourite – luscious, creamy little blighters packed with flavour. The razor clams (three) were dreamy wee things –steamed to create chew, rugged slithers of flesh bathed in a rich, creamy white wine and garlic sauce obviously made from a great stock base. We had to ask for more of the lovely fresh bread to mop up the amazing sauce.
We dipped in to the specials for our main courses. A whole seabass (£17.95), – decently sized – had been roasted in the wood oven to create a crisp shell encasing the softest flesh – this infused not only with a subtle woodsmoke flavour but with lime and chilli hits from its punchy stuffing.
Nicely executed, this was a simple and moreish dish, exactly what you want to eat in your languid harbourside setting. Heritage potatoes and a perky side salad made neat accompaniments.
Our other main course was oven-baked whole plaice in a cockle and samphire butter (£17.95). A delicate and subtle fish, again it was subjected to exemplary cooking in the aromatic wood oven.
The classic buttery sauce was light and lovely, the small chunky cockles adding freshness and bite. Zesty samphire was perfect to offer up a crunch of green.
We sipped on easy-going French sauvignon and craft beer from Berwick. We enjoyed chatter with laid-back staff who were comfy in their surroundings and knew their stuff when it came to the day’s menus.
This is a lovely, unstuffy place serving up astonishingly good fish at great prices. The word authentic is often overused – but that’s what you get here. Its setting is unrivalled and the kitchen really delivers, Move over Rick.