I realise it’s been more than a while since I last posted on here. Life is damn well busy and I feel like I’ve fully lost my blogging mojo, despite giving Scran on the Tyne a facelift back in January. Nonetheless, I’m going to get back into it, slowly but surely, and have a great venue to share with you all following a recent visit: Catch Ponteland.
As the name would suggest, Catch Ponteland is a seafood lover’s dream. Fish is their thing. They’re part of an award-winning group, with three fantastic Catch venues across the North, the most recent of which is the Ponteland haunt which opened in summer 2017. Located just 5 minutes outside of the village itself in a former coaching inn, Catch Ponteland sits proudly on the A696, so it really couldn’t be easier to find.
We headed there recently for some of their much-hyped seafood dishes and an overnight stay with breakfast, and were mighty impressed with what we experienced. Catch Ponteland boasts five bedrooms with tasteful seaside-inspired decor which are a mere swish of a fishing rod’s distance (well, upstairs) from the restaurant and bar. Our visit happily coincided with Easter weekend, specifically Good Friday, which as we all know is the day of eating ALL OF THE FISH. And we did.
This is a review of two parts, so let’s start with the dinner…
FOOD AT CATCH PONTELAND
So, first thing’s first, the mantra of Catch Ponteland (and the Catch Seafood group, for that matter) is simply, “it started with a fish”. Using the finest produce our seas have to offer, chefs curate wholesome, creative dishes that inject a little of the extraordinary into your humble fish.
The menu is packed with options, from the old favourite Fish and Chips, to the Daily Catch (aka Specials) and the aptly named Simply Fish menu, along with some non-fishy choices for those who want to come to a seafood restaurant and not eat seafood. Ahem.
We started our meal with a drink (the Rhubarb and Custard cocktail for me and a pint for the O/H) and half a dozen oysters (£13) which arrived adorned with lemon wedges and diced shallots, along with raspberry vinegar. I’m one of those people who could eat oysters every day and these ones were plump and fresh, needing only the slightest of garnish to make that ‘taste of the sea’ really pop.
As you might expect, a rhubarb and custard cocktail isn’t really the best accompaniment for a bunch of oysters, so we opted for a bottle of Ca Tesore Pinot Grigio (£21.95) instead. A crisp, refreshing white wine that paired superbly with the rest of our meal.
To start, I chose the Queenie Scallops (£9), which had been baked in plentiful Swiss gruyere cheese and were gone in about 20 seconds, such was their deliciousness. My only minor whine would be that there wasn’t enough of the scallops themselves, but luckily my boyfriend’s starter of Battered King Prawns (£8.50) was more than ample and allowed for sharing.
The prawns were chunky and encased in a fine, well-seasoned batter, accompanied by a tangy sweet chilli dip. Given my time at Catch Ponteland again, I’d most likely opt for the prawns, or the Fish & Shellfish soup, which I saw another diner tucking in to enthusiastically on a nearby table.
For main course, my boyfriend went for the classic fish and chips (standard size at £10.50) which came with probably the best chips (beef dripping, of course) I’ve ever consumed. He went for mushy peas on the side (£1.75 extra) and had more than enough food to contend with. I doubt he’d have been able to finish the King sized, as the standard is more than your average fish and chips portion.
Now obviously, since Catch is all about seafood and their West Vale restaurant has been much-lauded with praise and silverware, we knew the fish and chips were going to be good. What we didn’t realise is, how good. Perfectly cooked fish with flakes that fell at the slightest prod of a fork and as I said, the greatest chips ever. The restaurant was full of people tucking into fish and chips and I’d say it won’t be long until Catch Ponteland picks up the same awards as its sister restaurant. We’ll certainly be going back on a sunny day to devour more of the same.
I decided to go (slightly) healthier and choose from the Simply Fish menu, and chose the halibut (£22). The idea of the Simply Fish menu is that you pick from the range of daily fish on offer, add a side and pick a sauce, resulting in a personalised fish dish. I went for those darn wonderful beef dripping chips and dressed side salad, along with a garlic and herb butter (also £1.75) to bathe everything in. I was presented with a very generous portion of halibut fillet, with a perfectly crispy skin atop. The garlic and herb butter sauce was again, very generous, and great with the fish.
As always, we side stepped on dessert, but there were some great options all around a purse-friendly £6 mark, including a sticky toffee pud which I have to say, I was tempted by after spying it over on another table, and a classic knickerbocker glory at only six quid.
Service throughout our meal was outstanding, with special mentions going to the GM, Joe, and our waitress throughout the meal, Kim, who was incredibly friendly, professional and happy to give her recommendations on the varied menu. Despite there being a full house, the staff were attentive and efficient with every table, and the whole place ran like clockwork. Since it was quite a lovely evening, we took our wine and enjoyed the outdoors on their picnic benches out front, reminiscing over the great meal we’d had. Bravo, Catch Ponteland. Bravo!
ROOMS AT CATCH PONTELAND
There are five very tasteful and luxurious bedrooms at Catch Ponteland, all with large en-suite bathrooms and two of them with free-standing roll-top baths in the main room itself. Sadly, both were booked out on our visit, but our bedroom, the ‘Bamburgh’ room, was light, spacious and really cosy nonetheless. The large bathroom has a bath, overhead shower and some seriously snazzy floor tiles, fluffy white towels and complimentary toiletries.
Throughout the room there are decorative nods to the seaside; with anchor ornaments, images of local shores and hues of blue dotted about the place. Every room has tea and coffee making facilities, a large wardrobe complete with hairdryer, foldaway ironing board and an iron, a TV and most importantly, a lovely king-sized bed.
While I initially pined for a roll-top bath, we were comfortable and really wanted for nothing more and I genuinely had a great night’s sleep. Although I did manage to sneak in one of the snazzier rooms to provide a pic of said roll-top bath for the purpose of this write up.
Our room was front-facing with a lovely view of the fields, and I had been concerned of noise from the busy road outside, but happily we were undisturbed and the black-out blinds kept any pesky early morning light at bay.
Breakfast is served until 11am (which is incidentally also check-out time!) and is a laid-back affair served in the bar area. As a full English connoisseur, I obviously had to go for it and was actually blown away by how good a breakfast it was. At only £8 it was great value for money, and the plate was full to the brim with bacon, sausages, mushroom, grilled tomato, hash browns, poached eggs (you can have them your way, though!), beans and toast.
Everything was cooked perfectly, as you can see, and I bragged pretty much all day to my boyfriend who decided to opt out of breakfast. Amateur!
All in all, we had a great experience at Catch Ponteland and will most certainly be going back. It’s a contemporary, stylish and unpretentious venue with great food and great staff – so what more could you ask for, really? They have a number of great offers for a stay-over, with bed and breakfast deals starting at only £95 and their ‘Dine, Drink, Dream’ package for two at £169 consisting of B&B, a 3 course evening meal and a bottle of prosecco in your room, chilled for your arrival. For those looking for a local and luxurious staycation, this could be just the ticket.
We’ll most likely see you there.
Huge thanks to the team at Catch Ponteland for having us, we had a ball and everything was perfect. To find out more about Catch, check out their website or call 01661 881 440. We were offered our stay and dinner on a complimentary basis for the purpose of this review (drinks/tip were paid for by ourselves), however all views are true to experience, as always.