It’s been a beautiful day on the Northumbrian coast, and the large glass doors at The Old Storehouse are thrown open to let in a warm breeze and the last of the afternoon sun. Inside it’s clearly newly decorated, very fresh and appealing. There’s a lot of light wood and an unexpected abundance of thick rope (including some draped from the ceiling and some which has been cleverly formed into a lamp), but the effect is pleasant and not overpoweringly nautical. We are greeted in the airy bar by Caroline, who is hosting, and led to a table in the dining area, which is separated from the bar by a low glass partition.
As we’re examining the menu we’re brought homemade bread with garlic butter and a balsamic glaze on the side. It’s a bit like a foccacia, warm and crunchy. I order the poached hen’s egg to start, which is accompanied by English asparagus, broad beans, pea purée, potato crisps and pea shoots with white balsamic hollandaise (£6.50). That’s quite a mouthful, and after I order I’m concerned that it might be a bit of a mix up on the plate. But I can’t help myself – the mention of hollandaise sauce is always enough reason for me to order something.
I needn’t have worried, because when it arrives it’s beautifully presented, a genuinely attractive plateful. The asparagus is firm and all the flavours work perfectly together. My partner has chosen Amble-landed pan seared scallops served with potato and chorizo galette, compressed apple, pancetta crisps and baby leaves in a wholegrain mustard dressing (£8.95). He tells me that the chorizo slightly overpowers the delicate scallops, but he eats and enjoys the whole thing.
As we eat, we notice there seems to be a band setting up in the corner of the restaurant. We’re not sure what to expect, but are soon distracted by the arrival of our main courses. I’ve ordered the confit duck with spiced caramelised red cabbage and potato rosti with a cherry and port reduction (£15.60). It’s actually duck breast, not leg as on the menu, but I was told that by the friendly waitress when ordering so I’m happy. The duck tastes delicious. The whole dish is tasty in fact, but so rich that I can’t finish it all (as hard as I try).
On the other side of the table, my boyfriend is enjoying his sea bass (£16.25), ordered from the ‘Amble Landed Sea and Shell’ section of the menu because, he says, ‘You can’t eat this close to the sea and not eat fish’. It’s a pan fried fillet with coriander, fragrant sticky rice, spring onion and chilli salad with a coconut and ginger Thai sauce.
As we finish our mains (or in my case, accept defeat) we hear the opening bars of a croony, old-fashioned song, and turn to see a sharply suited singer between the speakers in the corner. There’s a moment of nervousness before he starts singing, but he’s good. Really good. We relax again. There are plenty of families in the bar behind us who seem to be enjoying the music too.
After a very good meal, the desserts are the ruby-encrusted cherry on top of our night. My boyfriend barely speaks for 10 minutes as he devours his white chocolate tart with raspberry and basil sorbet (£5.95). My pear tarte tatin (£5.95) is delicious, and accompanied by the best creme fraiche ice cream I’ve ever had (and in fact the best any kind of ice cream I’ve ever had). As we exit into the still warm evening, there’s really only one thing wrong. We have to find our way home.
01665 710500 www.theoldstorehouseamble.com