Mark Carr enjoys lunch at The Battlesteads, Wark, in the Tyne Valley
Wark is a haven of Northumbrian food. The village is surrounded by premium farmland and the Tyne’s fishing grounds lie on its borders. It is also home to fine food producers and at the heart of it all lies The Battlesteads.
A traditional country pub with a fine kitchen garden to supply produce for its plates, there’s a modern touch here too, as we find in the conservatory dining room looking out on the walled garden and the Dark Sky Observatory beyond.
The beer is well kept, the handpulls featuring beers from the likes of Wylam Brewery and Black Sheep on our visit, while the menu focuses on local produce, thanks to its quality and abundance in this part of the world.
Our lunch features salad greens, leeks and blackberries harvested yards from the kitchen door, and the garden’s potatoes, beetroot and more feature throughout the menu.
The tart blackberries add a sublime piquancy to a thick slice of cheesecake, while the garden’s leeks feature in soup served with chunks of freshly baked brown bread and hunks of salty butter.
The coronation chicken salad combines the leafy pick of the garden with smooth curry flavours, while the garden’s beautiful beetroot is served numerous ways, from semi freddo to pickled and crisp.
Cajun chicken with cream sauce, prawns, bacon and sautéed potatoes provides a lovely combination of local quality with a globe-trotting twist, the cream sauce mellowing the Cajun spices. Meanwhile, traditional fish and chips is lifted by a good beer batter, a vibrant dollop of fresh pea purée and a good pile of proper chips.
Two starters, mains and a single dessert with soft drinks comes in at just under £50, which is fantastic value for this quality. If only we could always lunch this way…
The Battlesteads, Wark, NE48 3LS, tel 01434 230 209, www.battlesteads.com