Recent feature Chic and Cheerful from Fabulous Magazine June 15,2008|
Where? On the wild, romantic North east coast of England.
Why Go ? The views alone make it magical - silver sand and ruined castles- and the beach is just a 10- minute walk away.
Don't miss Nearby Holy Island which you can reach when the tide's out.Visit the ruins of the monastery, or climb up to the castle for the best views.
And the fresh seafood at the Sportsman in pretty good too. Dishes include local langoustine flash-fried with chilli, garlic and ginger.
Budget tip Walk along the beach to the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh castle, only reachable from the shore.
Room rate Doubles from £90.00 per night, b&b call 01665 576588 or visit Sportsmanhotel.co.uk
Published Date: 17 April 2008
Editor: Mr. Paul Larkin
FOR me, there's so much more to a good meal out than the quality of the food.
The ambience has to be right, the welcome friendly and the menu inviting.
I can usually tell whether it's going to be my kind of place as soon as I walk through the door.
I knew straight away that I was going to like The Sportsman. The atmosphere was relaxed, yet alive; youthful, yet mellow; laid back, yet attentive.
Some of my favourite restaurants are on the dramatically rugged Cornish coast, one in particular is perched on stilts above Watergate Bay, surfers' paradise. It is buzzing with young families and gastronomes alike and boasts one of the best seafood menus on the planet.
It was taken over by Jamie Oliver a couple of years ago and is well worth a visit if you're in that part of the world and can crack the waiting list for tables. The Sportsman has the potential to be just as good.
Once you have negotiated the building and worked out which door to use (the far one at the front, facing the sea), you enter a gastro-delight.
A large, high-ceilinged room with gorgeous, old, wooden floorboards could be imposing but for the sympathetic décor and the many points of interest – a carpeted, cosy lounge area to peruse the menu, complete with settees and huge wooden trunks; tables tucked into bay windows affording the most splendid views of the Embleton dunes and the sea; a real fire set in a whitewashed brick surround; a contemporary bar that fits in well; white panelling all round.
The attention to detail in a restaurant that verges on the minimalist is cleverly contradictory. I liked the tea lights on the tables, the low, modern candelabras that brought the ceilings comfortably lower; the exquisite star-shaped wall light.
The menu is equally impressive. It pledges a commitment to local produce, where possible. "The seafood we offer is supplied by the local trawlers and day boats, not fish merchants," it boasts.
Meat is supplied by farmers Donald Macpherson and organic champion Steve Ramshaw, from Monkridge, a regular at the Alnwick Food Festival.
There was also an apology that some ingredients depend on weather conditions and may not always be available.
There were just five starters, five main courses and half a dozen desserts on this the spring menu – a sure sign that the food is freshly-prepared. Impressively, the choices change with the seasons and depend upon the local produce on offer at the time.
So, the starters were home-made soup (tomato) with farmhouse bread (£3.95); wild mushroom risotto with Cuddy's Cave cheese (£4.95); flash-fried langoustines (£6.95, not available on our visit); Craster smoked salmon on blinis and lemon and dill crème fraiche with mixed leaves (£5.95); garlic mushrooms (£6.95).
You will not get instant service (friendly, attentive and cheery, yes) at The Sportsman – it is not a fast-food joint, so be prepared for a leisurely meal. The wait for our starters (risotto and garlic mushrooms) was tempered with generous helpings of bread and butter.
My risotto was delightful – fresh and not too creamy – and my wife's mushrooms were set on bread and were infused with just the right balance of garlic. We took great pleasure in devouring both!
The main courses were loin of pork with swede puree, green beans, caramelised apples and cider jus (£14.95); Amble day boat caught halibut or turbot (£13.95 or £15.95); the aforementioned rump steak (£15.95); free-range Northumberland chicken breast, sautéed potatoes, shallot and Bywell smoked bacon and thyme jus (£13.95); tagliatelle with wild mushroom sauce (£9.95).
My turbot was so fresh, you could taste the sea. The thick, white fish was succulent and well-presented on a bed of crushed new potatoes and a dozen green beans. That was it on the "seasonal veg" front – enough for me, but some may expect a side dish with more vegetables.
My first choice dessert – simply the best sticky toffee pudding from Alnwick's Proof of the Pudding - was sold out and I had to resort to the chocolate pudding (£4.25), matching my wife's choice. They were predictably delicious if not hot enough. Mine was swimming in single cream – my wife opted for ice cream (a better option, with hindsight).
Other desserts included tart tatin (apple) with Doddington's ice cream (£4.95), crème brulee with cointreau (£3.95); and Doddington's cheese board (£5.95).
It was a bit disappointing that our first-choice wine too was unavailable – a Spanish Rioja - and we were offered an alternative – a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon at the same price, £18.95 for a bottle. The wines list is extensive, graced by 56 wines ranging in price from £13.95 to £49.95 for rosé Champagne.
Our bill was £73.65 for a three-course meal with wine – not the cheapest night we've ever had but about average for this quality venue.
Some atmospheric Norah Jones and jazz tracks were playing through the evening but failed to completely drown out a clamour of music and loud voices from the kitchen. It spoiled the ambience a touch but fortunately not entirely.
Children are welcomed – they can have half-portions from the main menu.Continual improvements are being made with the new French manager. The relaxed mood and thoughtful interior will help this restaurant succeed.
The considerable efforts made to embrace local produce are laudable.
Despite a few early-season failings, we will return, particularly in the summer when I expect it to be jumping. After all, it's my kinda place.
The full article contains 965 words and appears in n/a newspaper.Last Updated: 17 April 2008 11:34 AM
TELEGRAPH NEWSAPER Aug 06
Castles, crab sandwiches and magical Lindisfarne
Spend the morning in...
Stay up late...
At all costs avoid...
With great beaches, the Northumberland coastline can compete with any in Britain, says Helen Pickles.
The Sportsman Hotel, Embleton (01665 576588 ), has a simple menu that might include grilled pears with Oxford Blue dressing and casserole of Cheviot lamb. About £24 for three courses.
Local Press coverage the Sportsman have had is shown here.
Eating Out: The Sportsman Jul 25 2003
By Geoff Laws, The Journal
Tel: (01665) 576 588
A summer's evening, the sun casting lengthening shadows towards the dunes and the sea, swifts darting across the sky, church bells pealing. What more could you ask?
Good company and good food maybe.
The first part was taken care of because we were with friends. The second part... well, read on.
The Sportsman is in a perfect position to enjoy the delights of Northumberland. A large terrace with tables (and heaters for chillier days) affords the best views.
Having acquainted ourselves with a round of drinks, we got down to the serious business of the menu.
I went for flash-fried local langoustines with chilli and ginger served with salad and crusty bread. She chose vanilla poached pear with rocket and roquefort salad.
Our friends had hot potted crab with wholemeal toast and paté with salad leaves.
Good ol' Georges Duboeuf was there so we ordered a couple of bottles. The place was lively with local people in for a drink and a chat in the bar and happy groups of diners enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the rustic, bistro-style dining room.
Local scenes dotted the terracotta walls. Scrubbed floorboards and plain wood tables with an assortment of chairs created a very friendly feel.
My langoustines arrived, a plentiful tangle, nine strong and fiddly to eat but well worth the effort and surgical fun. My companion's pears were brilliant, a balanced dish which disappeared in a trice.
Our friends were busily demolishing their crab and paté with equal pleasure and Georges was running alongside like a good 'un.
On to entrée. I chose Northumberland steak and ale pie, my companion had the rosemary skewered monkfish, salmon, prawn and cod served with a light citrus sauce and steamed rice.
Our friends both had the grilled Cheviot lamb cutlets with light mint, shallot and cream sauce. They weren't as impressed with their dish (they decided the meat was a little tough) as we were with ours.
My companion's skewered fish lay temptingly on a bed of rice speckled with herby sauce. Two langoustines draped seductively on the edge of the plate escorted them to their fate.
The juicy chunks of fish with the slightly nutty rice and lightly astringent sauce were clearly a great combination and the conversation was flowing so well and so wittily that I didn't notice her finish the lot before I could get a taste.
My pie offered a huge amount of rich steak in a dark, luscious sauce topped with a vast shelf of puff pastry.
A hearty feast that went well with the communal side dishes of new potatoes and steaming vegetables, all perfectly al dente.
And so to the dessert - and a short list nevertheless offered a good selection.
Two of us took the fruit crêpes, freshly produced, oozing their red fruit and finished off with a blob of ice cream; one chose the home-made profiteroles, rich with cream, custard and chocolate sauce.
I made the mistake of selecting two from the six flavours of locally-produced ice cream, the whisky and fudge. Mistake?
Only in that having helped me choose the flavours, all my companions then helped me to eat them. What little they left me was delicious.
After coffee, the bill for two came to £48.25. We didn't begrudge it since we had had a quite excellent evening.
Open from noon every day (until 11pm, Mon to Sat; until 10.30pm, Sun)