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Berwick, North Northumberland: Food-Travel-Culture-Community

Archive for the tag “Eating out”

Eating & drinking in Berwick

For last year’s (2017) Literary Festival in Berwick I compiled a post about Berwick’s eateries. It was by no means exhaustive and was a personal take on eating and drinking in and around Berwick. As we approach the tourist season this year, I thought I’d update my listings. There’s also a post about wandering in Berwick – again tailored to the Literary Festival – but useful enough if you just want to make sure you’ve got the town covered on foot.

If you’ve not been to Berwick before, you’re in for a treat and, if you have been, you’ll no doubt relive past pleasures as well as uncovering new delights.

Berwick has evocative and historic streets to wander, with cute and enticing independent shops as well as the usual suspects. There are also watering holes a-plenty to delight and surprise you.

This post offers a potted lowdown on a some venues where you can chew some fat (literally and figuratively) and sup a beverage or two between Festival sessions. I’ve tried to provide links to websites/Facebook pages where possible – obviously things can change quite quickly in the hospitality trade so do check for updates and opening hours. My next post will highlight some short but enjoyable walks to enjoy as you make your way from venue to venue.

The cake display at the brand new quayside café, The Lookout


  • The Corner House on Church Street which is a super haven and delightful bohemian retreat. It’s home of an open fire and bookshelves to browse, purveyor of fine local coffee (Northern Edge), cakes (fully-leaded and gluten free) and light lunches with vegan and vegetarian options.
  • Fantoosh on Marygate serves light lunches and lush cakes (it’s my local, I often grab ‘cakeouts’ to serve guests!), and offers dainty trinkets and gifts.
  • Just over the old bridge in Tweedmouth, you’ll find Riverside Café – good scones and excellent breakfasts – but beware it gets busy so it may be wise to book.
  • Mielle Patisserie is an artisan French-style café on West Street serving excellent cakes and tarts and light lunches.
  • The Lookout on Berwick Quayside has been open a year now. The quiches and soups smelt lovely when I stopped by and a customer told me the coffee was ‘delicious’. It is a bijoux outlet with tables and chairs by the river and great views.
  • On the opposite corner of Berwick Quayside, you’ll find Lowry’s a popular café serving light lunches and with outside riverside seating.
  • Not a café or a substantial eaterie, but if you continue along Dock Road towards Spittal Point from Riverside Café (above), you’ll come to Berwick Shellfish – it would be hard to resist one of their crab/lobster snack platters, particularly on a fine day when you could sit and enjoy the view back across the Tweed to Berwick.

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    The perfect bench to sit and enjoy your shellfish snack pack – and it’s bang opposite Berwick Shellfish

Fantoosh at the northern end of Marygate

Riverside Café, Tweedmouth

The Brown Bear – on Hide Hill due to re-open at the end of August 2018 as a pub and venue


Cafés plus

  • Enjoy the view from The Maltings Kitchen over a scone and a cuppa or a fresh-cooked lunch and glass or two of wine – in The Maltings arts centre, Eastern Lane. Open for early evening meals on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Foxtons on Hide Hill is a café-cum-wine bar which also offers lunch and evening meals using local produce – it has a loyal local following and can get busy.
  • Pier Red on Castlegate is a cake-serving café and gallery by day and a relaxed and elegant wine bar on Friday (cocktails from 5.30!) and Saturday nights. Cheese and meat picking platters are also available.
  • The YHA Granary Bistro in Dewar’s Lane offers a full range of drinks and family friendly meals in a relaxed atmosphere at excellent prices. You can get up to the lovely Granary Art Gallery from here for a quick look.
  • The Mule on Rouge a new addition to the Bridge Street scene, The Mule has become a firm favourite. It boast the best and most authentic (possibly the only!) bagels in Berwick and offers great light lunches including vegan options – and holds regular pop-up supper clubs.
  • Upper West Street on West Street straddles this category and the one below. It’s a café/bistro serving a tasty range of lunches and evening meals.
  • Deyn’s Deli on the corner of Marygate/Golden Square is a split-level café that service sandwiches and light lunches.
  • Food collective Northern Soul on West Street also deserves a mention. Here they use unsold food from supermarkets to cook healthy affordable meals on a pay-as-you-feel basis – their strapline is: Feed bellies not bins.

More substantial eateries

  • Gasparro’s on Bridge Street is the go-to for Italian staples.
  • Limoncello originally opened within the refurbed King’s Arms on Hide Hill. It now occupies a prime site on the corner of Hide Hill/Silver Street and boasts an open air patio for you sip your drinks al fresco on globally-warmed summer evenings (the bar ‘As good as it gets’ is as close to urban cool as you’ll get in Berwick!). Limoncello has built its popularity on big portions of pretty basic food and a friendly vibe. Service can feel rather stretched at times.
  • Audela on Bridge Street is a tad more expensive than some Berwick eateries but the prices are matched by quality food. Lunches and evening meals – fabulous local fresh produce cooked imaginatively and beautifully.
  • The Queens Head Hotel – lunches and evening meals which often make inventive use of lovely local produce. Venison is usually a good choice. Again at the top end of the price range.
  • If curry’s your thing, Amran’s on Hide Hill is the place to go IMHO. It offers a great range of fine-tasting Indian food to suit the frailest and the most asbestos palates!
  • I should also mention Magna Tandoori on Bridge Street which I know has many fans too.
  • On West Street is Grill on Hill which serves good-value steak and seafood.
  • In the last couple of weeks we have a new addition on Golden Square heading towards the road bridge by the bus stop: Lock, Stock ‘n’ Burgers which by all accounts serves great burgers and pizzas.


  • I’ve already mentioned Pier Red and Foxtons – both popular and pleasing drinking haunts.
  • The Curfew, tucked down an alley off Bridge Street, is Berwick’s super-popular micropub, serving fab craft beers – including those from excellent local brewery Bear Claw, local game and pork pies, scotch eggs and it’s the only place in Berwick to serve gouda and Dijon mustard – the ideal snack with beer. It has an outdoor patio.
  • Bridge Street is rapidly becoming a go-to eating and drinking quarter in Berwick and now Atelier has joined the throng. A fab selection of beers and wines, it also serves delicious platters of local cured meats and local cheeses as well as pots of moules. It has a friendly, fun vibe – it can get noisy in the evenings.
  • The Barrels Ale House on Bridge Street is Berwick’s long-serving real-ale pub and live music venue. It’s a firm favourite with locals and visitors.
  • It’s been pointed out to me by a reader that I have neglected to mention three pubs at the northern end of town: on Castlegate you’ll find The Free Trade. The exterior was restored to its original beauty a few years back. Inside it’s a classic ‘brown pub’ with real ale and friendly locals – although the opening hours are rather unpredictable, so do check. Also on Castlegate, on the corner by the station is The Castle Hotel where artist LS Lowry stayed during his trips to Berwick. It has a popular bar and a good value restaurant – large portions, low prices. Heading to the east off Castlegate along Low Greens you’ll find the Pilot Inn, another classic pub which serves draught beers and has a truly local community feel.
Free Trade

The Free Trade public house on Castlegate

Outside the Curfew’s secret alleyway on Bridge Street

This brief meander through the eateries and drinkeries of Berwick is by no means exhaustive. I’ve enjoyed a substantial number of the places listed, others have been recommended by friends. However, just as my shelves are full of books that I have yet to open, the streets of Berwick are teeming with venues that I have yet to sample. If I’ve missed any of your favourites – or if, when you visit Berwick, you find your own hotspot – please do leave a comment below so that we can be sure to check it out!

For those of you who like to keep your step quota up, there are lots of lovely walks in and around the town. Tune into my Wandering in Berwick post to get some ideas.

Music, art…and oysters

Adopting a new home is a bit like having a child. Depending on your audience, you are either incredibly defensive or downright moany about it. That’s a bit how we’ve been about Berwick since moving here from North London.

Some things we have been defensive about – particularly to London friends – are:

The wonderful Maltings Theatre & Cinema

Culture… They say: ‘But what about art galleries/theatres/live music etc etc?’  We say: Our own much–loved Maltings  provides an astonishing wealth and diversity of locally and nationally (and some internationally) sourced entertainment, music and culture a step away from our front door. My own highlight of the year was the outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Not only did we have a most entertaining family debate (triggered by The Nine–Year–Old) about our top three flavours of crisps(mine resolutely cheese and onion, The Husband probably any flavour, The Nine–Year–Old smoky bacon, salt and vinegar, roast chicken – she’ll grow out of it) but also the Lord Chamberlain’s Men gave a fast–moving performance with no boring bits or tiresome over–the–top innuendo and really helped make sense of Shakespeare as originally acted by all–male casts.

AND we’ve been to several gigs in Edinburgh and, last week, visited The Sage Gateshead. Parking has been straightforward and cheap – free in Edinburgh – and right outside the venues. Hack that you Londoners as you wrestle with tube trains, parking attendants and the Congestion Charge and still have to walk miles to get to the gig. ALSO, Northumberland and the Borders probably have the highest population of artists in the country. With many Open Studios and art trails happening right now, it’s the perfect time to get soaking up the Northumberland/Borders Scene – Hoxton eat your heart out!

Looking out from Lindisfarne

Restaurants…They say: ‘Where will you eat?’ I am almost speechless. Northumberland = fresh. Fresh seafood, fresh meat, fresh vegetables. Cooking at home is bliss with such ingredients – as is shopping for them and there’s no wince–inducing price mark–up like you’d find in London’s Borough Market. We’ve had great fun and some delicious meals in and around Berwick.  Favourite moments so far include purchasing crab from the guys over at the Berwick Shellfish Co and sharing the resultant crab feast in our garden with friends; driving out to Ross Farm with The Nine–Year–Old and London Daughter (who was visiting) for Lindisfarne Oysters  – and the three of us slurping them straight from the shells as I opened them over the sink; watching a pig carcass being jointed at Peelham Farm, Foulden and learning how different English butchery is to Italian; marvellous venison at the Queen’s Head; illicitly snatched tasty, lazy lunches at The Maltings Kitchen enhanced by the marvellous view; happy times and relaxed meals of creative home–cooked food at Café Curio – all three in Berwick; and, slightly further afield, The Allanton Inn‘s subtle and delicious in–house smoked fish and meats. No wonder I’m looking forward to the Berwick Food Festival in September.

People…They say: ‘Who on earth will you hang out with?’ This casual London–centric view that the only interesting people on earth are found in London would be totally exasperating if it weren’t so risible. I say just read the paragraphs above to get a taste of some of the creative and entrepreneurial people we get to chew the fat with.

The Weather…They say: ‘It’s so cold oop North’. Pah! The Husband (who has bona fide anorak qualifications in a range of things including trains and statistics) says: ‘It’s only ever a couple of degrees cooler in Berwick than London.’ This, he says, is, ‘pleasingly refreshing in the summer months.’ And, ‘we have real winters like we used to have down South in the 50s.’ He also asserts that there’s hardly a raindrop of difference between here and London. So, my London friends, pop that on your trendy wood burning stoves and smoke it!

Now for the moans…Ah, shame, I seem to have run out of space. Moaning about Berwick will have to wait for another column – perhaps a London one!

(A version of this article was first published on August 4th  in The Berwick Advertiser

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