A few years back, James and I discovered a welcoming Inn that ticked all the boxes of what a proper country pub should be… St Mary’s Inn near Morpeth offered hearty portions of delicious local grub, a wide range of real ales, friendly staff, a mountain of books and board games and more real crackling fires than I’d ever seen in one pub before! If we’d have lived nearer we definitely would have been locals, but instead we settled for the occasional meal or drinks there every time we visited nearby Whitehouse Farm or Sanderson Arcade shopping centre.
Then in 2017, much to our disappointment, it closed! We were gutted!
The owners (who also run the stunning Jesmond Dene House in Newcastle) kept hold of the keys but decided to lock up for a while due to major building work in the immediate area taking longer than they’d expected.
However, I’m pleased to say that St Mary’s Inn is now re-open and it’s every bit as wonderful as I’d remembered.
There are still apartments and houses being constructed on Stannington Park but the area is looking lovely and much less like a building site than it was a couple of years ago.
There’s a new team in place and they bring with them a wealth of experience. St Mary’s head chef has previously worked at Jesmond Dene House and a Michelin starred restaurant in Lancashire. The general manager has run two of my favourite Northumberland eateries, the Lord Crewe Hotel in Bamburgh and the Joiner’s Arms in High Newton.
As well as fantastic food and drink, the pub also offers eleven sumptuous bedrooms. Each one is stylishly decorated with unique antiques and thoughtful attention to detail. I was lucky enough to have a nosey round some of the rooms and was delighted to see that one of them even had a cosy dog bed for guests wishing to bring their four-legged friend.
It came as no surprise to me when I heard that St Mary’s Inn was recently awarded five stars by the AA – it’s definitely somewhere worth staying if you want to explore this beautiful part of the North East.
As for the food… well as I say, I was already a huge fan before this visit but either I’d forgot just how good it was or it has improved even more! My three course lunch of celeriac soup with hazlenuts and chives, braised beef shin with horseradish mash and chocolate brownie with white chocolate ice cream was simply divine.
Every mouthful was absolutely delicious and beautifully presented, it was the kind of food you’d expect from a fine dining restaurant but without any pretence or airs and graces.
As well as a varied day time menu, which also offers staples like sandwiches and steaks, there is a specials board with a range of surprising seasonal offerings. The fact it was the day after Burn’s Night when we visited might explain the availability of Cullen Skink for starters. James ordered this and said it was really tasty… thick and heartwarming with plenty of delicious smoked haddock.
James also ordered from the special menu for his main course, the pan roast pigeon was served with a wild mushroom pithivier (little pie to you and me!) and although it looked a bit pink for me he absolutely loved it and kept going on about how amazing it was for the rest of the day!
After our meals we were so full and content as we relaxed next to a roaring fire and surrounded by other happy diners that we really didn’t want to leave.
After a couple more drinks at the bar we finally managed to tear ourselves away but we will definitely be heading back soon for Sunday lunch. It’s a great place to go with kids too as St Mary’s Inn has a fantastic children’s menu (three courses for £6 – bargain!) and they even have regular events such as quiz nights and live music, so check it out!
Address: St Mary’s Field, Morpeth, NE61 6BL (It’s not far from Whitehouse Farm which is a great family day out, read about it here)
*Our meal was complimentary so this article has been marked as an Ad for disclosure. As always, the personal opinions expressed are based on my own, first hand experience.
Have you been to St Mary’s Inn? Would you love to visit? Could you resist that brownie? Let me know!