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Berwick on Tweed


Winot
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With a weekend coming up in Berwick on Tweed I scoured the boards for tales of Ludlow-style dining but alas could only find this topic in which Thom said:

Restaurant magazine (you may know us from such threads as 'Taking top 50's too seriously') did an article on Rick Stein and Padstow, and identified 10 other towns which were ripe for the Padstow/Ludlow treatment.

The potential culinary hotspots (some obvious, some not)were: Margate (wealthy, close to London/Dover, the next St Ives?), Ilfracombe (unspoilt, and new road links to Exeter/Bristol, Damian Hirst(!) planning fish restaurant), March (prime produce on the doorstep, close to Peterborough, Cambridge and Newmarket), Melton Mowbray (home of pork pie, and close to home of Stilton, a short drive from Nottingham and Leicester) , Ashbourne (good beer tradition if not food, sited in a National Park, with major population centres nearby), Skipton, (gateway to the Dales, thriving tourist spot) Hornsea (hotspot for fresh fish), Berwick on Tweed (popular tourist spot, between Edinburgh and Newscastle), Arbroath (smokies, working harbour and beautiful beaches) and Stockbridge (rural hampshire, rich area, with great local produce).

Are these places worthy/not worthy of fine restaurants? Are they actually better served than we thought? Did we miss anywhere more deserving?

So has Berwick taken note? Does anyone have any recommendations?

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No 1 Sallyport is a round up entry in this year's GFG. BYO "rustic suppers" around a communual table for 27 quid a head. If its open to non-residents then it could be worth a look.

Good lord, that looks remarkably pleasant! Of course, I suppose that I should expect nothing else from a town named Berwick on Tweed...

I'm actually getting quite into the idea of spending some time up North the next time I come home to dear old Blighty...I must make a note of this place.

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  • 1 month later...

Well we went and survived -- and in summary the food wasn't as bad as I feared but predictably no fireworks.

We had lunch one day in the Arts Centre cafe which was really pretty good with friendly service and good views over the Tweed. Nothing unusual on the menu (I had warm potato and bacon salad) but good ingredients sensitively handled and incredible value. It's on a steep hill between the main drag and Bridge End St.

On Saturday night the place reminds me of Newcastle just down the coast with crowds of dressed up youth wearing not very much doing lots of drinking and a bit of fighting later. Everyone who isn't drinking seems to be packing the few restaurants which are either dodgy or jacket/tie/disapproving glances-affairs in hotels. The exception was the virtually empty "Il Porto del Mare" (or summat) which is part of the King's Hotel and wasn't as bad as all that implies. Fairly standard Italian (I had the old fall-back of calves liver and mash), overly formal service but very friendly once they'd relaxed and no horrors.

Sunday night six of us had the "rustic supper" in our B&B, the No.1 Sallyport mentioned above. The owner apparently used to run a restaurant in the town and can certainly cook -- no better or more flash than most of my friends, but good home-cooked comfort food -- mushroom soup, leg of lamb then creme caramel. For what we got (and the fact we had to serve ourselves) I thought £27.50 a head was a bit steep, but it was a good meal food-wise.

The problem however was the owner's attitude -- she managed during our three-day stay there to make us feel distinctly uneasy. An example -- four of us were having a pre-dinner drink in the (excellent) Barrels Ale House just a minute down the road, well aware that dinner was at 8pm and fully intending being there on time. In fact we were all of 3 minutes late, and were met halfway by my better half who had been dispatched by the owner to fetch us, as (in the owner's words) she really didn't want to have to wait. And this was for mushroom soup (which then was served about 8.15pm), not souffle.

There were other instances (such as telling us in no uncertain terms that our non-resident friends had to use a specific loo rather than the one in our room) none of which were particularly serious, but the general impression she gave was that we were intruding into her home and she deserved praise for putting up with us. Unfortunately I find this is all too common in British B&Bs (as discussed on this thread). When will the owners realise that it's not their home we are staying in it's a B&B?

In case you're thinking that perhaps your reporter is a little uptight and an unreliable narrator, all this happened after we had been woken on the first night at 5am by the owner's 17 year old son, incoherently drunk having lost his keys and being unable to wake up his mother, and then an hour later (after we'd let him in) by the alarm going offf in the empty room opposite. Now I've been an incoherently drunk 17 year old son in my time, and I wasn't going to give the owner a hard time for her son's cock-up, but I did think she could have been a little more apologetic the next morning, and I certainly think it should have resulted in a little more latitude than we were afforded with dinner times and the like.

Anyway, it was a shame, as the house was lovely and the rooms had been kitted out fairly well. The location was excellent and the breakfasts fantastic, as can be seen from the web site. And to give the owner credit, she did let us have breakfast at 10am every day we were there. It's just a shame she seemed more concerned with the number of style mags she could get into than with making her guests feel welcome.

In general terms, then, Berwick has some considerable way to go before becoming the Ludlow of the north-east. I was surprised at how poor the town seemed to be, with every other shop a charity outlet or cafe, more so than sugggested by the beautiful Georgian buildings you see from the train. If someone was going to try starting a high-end restaurant there, they'd have to be pretty sure that there was sufficiently well-off local custom to keep the place going out of tourist season.

W.

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Who mentioned Margate in the orginal post?

Someone has got a sense of humour! Like it.

I went into a French restaraunt and asked the waiter, 'Have you got frog's legs?' He said, 'Yes,' so I said, 'Well hop into the kitchen and get me a cheese sandwich.'

Tommy Cooper

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  • 3 weeks later...
In general terms, then, Berwick has some considerable way to go before becoming the Ludlow of the north-east.  I was surprised at how poor the town seemed to be, with every other shop a charity outlet or cafe, more so than sugggested by the beautiful Georgian buildings you see from the train.  If someone was going to try starting a high-end restaurant there, they'd have to be pretty sure that there was sufficiently well-off local custom to keep the place going out of tourist season.

A post-script: Berwick-on-Tweed has the lowest average weekly income in the UK

W.

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In general terms, then, Berwick has some considerable way to go before becoming the Ludlow of the north-east.  I was surprised at how poor the town seemed to be, with every other shop a charity outlet or cafe

W.

now this paragraph seems to sumup Margate quite well, indeed perhaps the whole of thanet where we have more than our fair share of small cafes

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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