Jane Pikett enjoys a feast of fish at the Fish Shack, Amble
You know that thing, when you’ve been staring at the menu for a full five minutes and you still can’t make up your mind because, frankly, you just want it all?
That’s how we ended up with a bit of just about everything on the menu at The Fish Shack at the Sea Quest in Amble, where the choice between kipper and horseradish paté, Thai chowder with sticky rice, haddock goujons, and local crab on homemade bread proved too much. And look at it! Up there, at the top of the page. It was magnificent. MAGNIFICENT, I tell you!
Mind, co-owner Ruth Charlton, who put it together for us, says she’s made a rod for her own back now because everyone’ll want it.
As for me, I go dreamy just thinking about it. There’s a magic about eating seafood yards from the harbour where it was
landed a few hours earlier. And The Fish Shack has a magic all of its own, created from a container and an old sea cobble (Sea Quest) just along the harbour from its sister, the fantastic Old Boathouse, where Martin Charlton serves up more catches of the day, chosen straight from the boats.
There’s no standing on ceremony here (yes, you’re fine in your Crocs here, Rosie McGlade) just the exquisitely fresh produce of the sea, served up on tin plates and rough timber tables in what could double up as a fisherman’s hut, and probably does some of the time.
With Nellie, appetite’s canine taste tester awaiting leftovers under the table (yeah, right, Nellie, not a hope pet…), Van Morrison warbling from the free jukebox in the corner, and the promise of a walk along the beach at Low Hauxley on the agenda, this was one of those blessed days. We’d escaped, you see, two old friends, out for a Saturday afternoon minus kids and husbands who, lovely as they are, would get in the way of us, happily pleasing ourselves.
Ruth, manning the shop while Martin was away doing streetfood at a Scouting for Girls gig up the road in Blyth, where the couple also have The Boathouse at Blyth, was in her element, bringing out more tin plates for other visitors laden with salt and chilli squid, salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes, wonderful steamed mussels in white wine and garlic, hunks of homemade bread and proper fat chips. Nellie’s eyes were on stalks. Our eyes were on stalks. If we hadn’t eaten so much (all the plate above, plus a big bowl of chips) we’d have been back later for dinner. Or maybe we’d have popped in at The Old Boathouse, where the razor clams are the best I’ve ever had and the homemade pizza to die for, or at Blyth Boathouse, where my son, then seven, discovered a love of oysters last year (precocious, him?).
Actually, we did leave one thing from our feast – one of those wonderful goujons, crunchy on the outside, succulent on the inside, which Nellie enjoyed as we sat on the beach afterwards. Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…
Leazes St, Amble, NE65 0AA
tel 01665 711 232