SEAFRONT FLAVOUR: HIGH TIDE, CULLERCOATS

Jessica Laing dishes up high praise for Cullercoats’ new foodie joint…

There are many perks to living at the coast. As a long-time local, I spend the majority of my time with fresh sea air in my lungs, sand between my toes and phenomenal food in my belly. And what an exceptional existence it is. If you’re from here, or visit regularly, you’ll know that the likes of Tynemouth, Cullercoats, Whitley Bay and even North Shields, are fast-becoming some of the most exciting, up-and-coming places in the region for great grub, served up by a foodie community that just seems to keep on growing.

High Tide is a mouthwatering addition. A joint venture between local husband-and-wife team, Nathan and Jo Bulch, it’s only been open six months or so, but has been enjoying a wave of glowing reviews since day dot. And they keep rolling in.

All for good reason, as far as I’m concerned. Not only is its creative culinary offering deliciously unique, its whereabouts also makes it an idyllic supper spot. Overlooking Cullercoats Bay, the small-but-mighty bistro is blessed with serene sea views that only get better as the sun begins to set. And the atmosphere is deliciously laid-back.

Food-wise, the focus is on just-in, seasonal produce, so fresh, flavoursome and colourful, each forkful provides a party for your senses. And a lot of it is locallysourced, too. Think quality British meat, just-caught fishy finds from the North Sea and fruit and veg from nearby farm shops – all of which are at the heart of a confident, good-sized evening menu.

In place of strict starters and mains, you’ll discover a range of small and large plates, which you’re free to mix and match, depending on how big your party is, what you fancy, or how hungry you are. Small plates start from £6, while larger dishes are around the £10-£16 mark. Not bad at all, especially if you’re sharing. My dining partner and I could’ve easily ordered the whole menu (just about everything jumped out at us), yet we managed, somehow, to restrain ourselves to six plates; two small, two large and two sweet. But go with whatever your hearts, eyes and bellies desire.

‘Starters’ was a game of two halves; one vegan, one not so much. I don’t stick to a plant-based diet myself, but if I spy a vegan option on a menu, chances are I’ll go for it – in the hope that it’ll deliver in flavour and flair. Fortunately, High Tide doesn’t shy away from the animal-free options (both sweet and savoury) and this one – a small plate of miso-marinated mushrooms – was a triumph.

Fat and juicy portobellos, bursting with savoury umami flavour, tossed with sweet slithers of radish and beetroot. All finished with a good drizzle of wild garlic oil, vibrant green, and a scattering of toasted hazelnuts.

An intriguing marriage of textures, colours and sweet, savoury and salty flavours that just worked – something we’d never tasted before. We were equally as pleased with the haggis Scotch egg, which arrived as big as our fist. It ticked all the boxes: a crisp, golden crumb, a bright orange, perfectly-gooey yolk and soft, tender meat. Served with chunky, tangy neeps piccalilli – obviously homemade. Great stuff.

From the large plate family, I tucked in to a snow-white, crispy-skinned fillet of skrei cod, dressed in a velvety cream sauce, infused with the taste and scent of the sea, and more of that lovely wild garlic oil. Tenderstem broccoli, baby pickled onions and salty nuggets of pancetta topped the whole thing off, making it my favourite dish of the night.

That said, we both gave the pork fillet a big thumbs up. Baby pink flesh that melted in the mouth, a doorstop-sized portion of crackling, greens, fluffy potatoes and silky, sweet cider jus.

Desserts were the kitchen’s very own chocolate brownie (not bad) and deconstructed fruit crumble, which may, or may not, be on the menu by the time you’re reading this. Not that it matters, though. I’ve recently tried the peanut butter cheesecake (which just so happens to be vegan) and the new white chocolate parfait, with summery raspberry sorbet, and they’re both delicious. There’s even a Mississippi mud pie (also vegan) on offer. What a time to be alive.

When I say we left reluctantly, I mean it – we were the the last diners out of the door. I think that says it all.

Overall, brilliantly-inventive coastal cuisine, served in a twinkly, deliciously-laid back setting. Diners are promised a boatload of flavour with every bite and, although fancy-looking, every plate is served without an ounce of pretension – no foams, gels, rubble of fluff. It’s no-nonsense food – and I know that means a lot to people these days.

And there’s more good news – you don’t have to visit after dark to experience it. The restaurant opens its doors Friday and Saturday mornings especially for brunch (try the sourdough French toast with Chantilly cream, berries and pistachio – it’s a winner) and on Sundays for mighty roasts. You can even swing by between 5pm-6.30pm Monday to Friday, or 5pm-6pm on Saturday, for special early bird dishes. Two for a purse-friendly £15, or three for £18. What are you waiting for?


For updates, search @HighTideCullercoats on Facebook or @high_tide_cullercoats or Instagram. To book, call (0191) 251 3065.

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