Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Restaurant Review: Hooked, Alnmouth

With friends visiting from darn sarf, we spent an excellent day and night at Kasia's folks caravan in Northumberland recently. Being right on the beach it's perfect for strolls along the sand which can often be beautifully and eerily lonesome affairs, as tourists eschew this particular stretch in favour of the better known destinations such as Bamburgh and Seahouses. Fine by us. A hard day's paddling demands the cadence of a decent feed, one which we hoped to find at Hooked in the ever-pretty village of Alnmouth.
When eating out in this part of the world previously we've always headed to Beaches restaurant, just over the road, and the promise of freshly caught lobster. But with variety being the proverbial spice, and with Hooked's website boasting a menu speaking of good taste and sense we changed tack.

Things got off to a slightly surreal start once seated when we realised that all our chairs emitted a comical squeak at the slightest shift of weight. We'd had a couple of drinks by this point, so cue much squeaking and puerile giggling. Also, the table had a right wobble on it, although this was easily remedied by some of the contents of my Costanza-style wallet.

Mussels Mariniere
I started with a bowl of mussels in a classic mariniere sauce. I know it's not mussel season but what the hey, I fancied mussels. These were plump specimens in a decent sauce although they could have made good use of a minute longer in the pan as a few hadn't opened that were clearly fine to eat

Craster Kipper Pate
Kasia's pate starter is a bang-on favourite for most retro presented dish of the year. The pate itself was really good, with all the smokey tang you'd expect from a dish involving the Robson's fine product, but I'm not sure it benefitted from being fashioned into toy boats. The melba toast took me back to the days when I worked in a country house hotel, turning out loaves of the bloody stuff every lunchtime.

Roast rack of lamb, new potatoes, sauteed green beans, redcurrant jus
My main course displayed a real mixed bag of cookery. The lamb was clearly high quality and had been cooked - and rested - to a spot-on shade of pink. Do I sound like a pernickity git for pointing out not-quite-neat french trimming? Yes, thought so. Beans and spuds were, you know, fine, but maybe short of some seasoning.  Unfortunately a chainsaw in the spokes of the dish came in the guise of the sauce, which, possessed of an odd metalic tang, didn't so much bring things together as drive them apart.

Fillet steak, onion rings, triple cooked chips, garlic tomato, watercress
Kasia's steak was another story of hits and misses. The cow was well cooked and the onion rings were crisp, greaseless and huge. Hurrah. But: people who compose menus need to realise that when they say "triple-cooked" they're writing a cheque that the thing on the plate damn well better be able to cash. Crisp, golden and bronzed without, fluffy and moist within, that's what you're promising, okay? These were pallid and timid wodges of spud. Sigh. More damning, the steak was sitting on a squiggle of balsamic glaze which effectively squeegeed all trace of beef flavour from the palate. Madness.

A main of sea bass certainly looked the part, but was regretfully reported to be overcooked and dry. More positively, an (unpictured) beef pie was highly rated.

Orange pancakes, chocolate Sauce, whipped cream
The retro vibe was seen through to the end with physalis and icing sugar adorning a dish of orange pancake. A pale and doughy pancake encased an orange which packed as much pith as flesh, making this a pretty unpleasant thing to eat. I gave up after a couple of spoonfuls.

Apple crumble, custard
An apple crumble was rated as decent, and that, friends, was that.

I had high hopes for Hooked. The website makes all the usual noises about seasonality and provenance but unfortunately the standard of cooking the night we visited just wasn't up to it. Shame, because they're using some really great ingredients and there was some evidence of solid technique, but not nearly enough. I've read some favourable words about them elsewhere so perhaps we caught them on an off night. Saying that, I've got to question anyone who thinks that what a fillet of beef needs more than anything is a bed of stickily-reduced balsamic vinegar. Cost-wise, with most main courses registering in the high teens, you'd hope for better.

We still had a fun night, but the company rather than the food takes most of the credit for that. We didn't say anything negative at the time, probably due to being big scaredycats not wanting to cause a scene. Not, in fairness that we were given specific cause to think there would be a problem with less-than-stellar feedback; service was cheery and friendly throughout.

Looks like it will be back to the lobster next time. There are worse fates.


Hooked Restaurant, 25 Northumberland Street, Alnmouth, NE66 2RA
01665 830 335


No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...