Monday, 14 July 2014

Restaurant Review: Beaches, Alnmouth

What's the value of objectivity when trying to write a bit about food? Very little I hope, as the ensuing screed may or may not demonstrate. The idea of trying to wrench something as fleetingly ephemeral as a meal eaten, with friends, in someone else's room into the semi-permanence of words that live on the internet, the better that others might elect to have a similar experience seems daft enough to make it worthwhile. That's my excuse in any case. And so here I am, about to tell you of just such an occasion.

Perhaps some qualifying context is appropriate. We'd had a fantastic day, taking a boat trip from Seahouses out to the Farne Islands. We gawped at all manner of fauna, the sea air working on our appetites all the while. The weather had gotten gradually lovelier during the day such that the evening could be started with gin and tonics in the garden of an Alnmouth pub, as the sun began to retreat over the estuary. We'd dropped a bottle of champagne off at the restaurant to chill, a restaurant we'd been to before, stuffing ourselves with lobster as we would again. There was little doubt that the ensuing meal was going to be a particular kind of triumph.

The menu
This is of relevance because Beaches by some distance not the most refined or ambitious eatery you're likely to visit. But that is not at all the point. It's a really fantastic place to have a meal. To sit, relax and enjoy yourself as hunger is sated by fresh seafood and conversation heartened by whatever you brought to drink.

The place is tiny; basically a converted front room that seats no more than about 16. The cooking is simple, but - and this word is really appropriate here - tasty, with fish to the fore.

Crab thermidor
My starter of crab thermidor did not scrimp on the crustacean. The sauce was spreadably and comfortingly rich. An argument could be made that there are better ways of showing off fresh crab, but not by me, not as I chased the last of the sauce from the bowl. Other starters were equally luscious. Neither the lobster bisque nor the liver pate had been made without substantial attention to dairy.

The thing that had most drawn us back here was however the promise of lobster. Hauled in that morning from just down the coast, these were fine looking specimens. Twenty quid will get you one all to yourself, plainly boiled with no frippery other than the tools with which to autopsy it, waxy spuds and some mayonnaise. I'm prone, just before pulling the thing apart, to a pang of guilt which dissipates on devouring the first perfectly sweet, intact claw. These beasts did not die in vain. The ensuing meal/anatomy lesson is one to be enjoyed in its entirety; there is the dark funk of pate-like meat and chunks of white in the least promising of places.

I finished with some very decent cheeses. Elsewhere, a creme brulee found favour.

Service was supremely warm, with just the right amount of self-deprecation. It feels like you're being fed in someone's front room, which of course you are. I think we paid about £35 a head. You bring your own drinks which means you can have a lobster feast, with champagne ( and why not, eh?), for probably the most reasonable price tag anywhere.

Whether any of this will encourage you to go yourself is moot. If you do, book well in advance as demand for a seat in this tiny room is high. We've been thrice now, and eaten pretty much the same thing each time. I'm sure we'll be back again. Surely life is nothing if not the proper development of enjoyable habits.


Beaches Restaurant, 56 Northumberland St, Alnmouth, NE66 2RJ
01665 830 006



  1. I have never eatne lobster...I really should give it a go sometime as i do love crab!!

    1. They're both great. I guess the attraction of lobster is partly how neatly the flesh comes from the shell.

  2. I've also never eaten lobster but have seen them, many a time, whilst diving off the Farnes.


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