As much as I love working and socialising in Newcastle city centre, every now and again it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle. Luckily, Newcastle offers easy access to the both the coast and countryside so I’m never short of peaceful places to visit.
I recently discovered St Mary’s Inn, just outside Morpeth, a gorgeous country pub and B&B, perfect for when I need to step off the hamster wheel for a while.
St Mary’s Inn is a sister property to the prestigious Jesmond Dene House so I knew standards would be high. Sadly it doesn’t have quiet the same picturesque setting (St Mary’s Inn is near the entrance of new housing estate) but it’s clear to see the attention to detail that sets this pub apart from your typical boozer.
I invited my sister-in-law Sarah out for a spot of lunch a couple of weeks ago and it was the perfect place for us to have a girly catch up. Sarah’s first child is due in September and I’m very excited to have a new niece or nephew to spoil, so we had lots to talk about!
As we walked through the impressive arched doorway the first thing we noticed was the long, polished oak bar offering a wide variety of real ales including a custom-made St Mary’s Ale from Tyne valley’s Wylam Brewery.
To the right of the main bar there are various rooms for drinking, dining and socialising, almost all had real fires too, making the spacious pub feel quite cosy. I also spotted lots of local art which gave character and charm to the surroundings.
We were led to a dining room at the back of the building and spent a good ten minutes trying to decide what to eat from the mouthwatering menu.
For starters I chose a smoked duck salad which was beautifully presented with refreshing watermelon, crunchy hazelnuts, ricotta and mint. The flavours worked so well together, the watermelon in particular was a bit of a revelation, I never would have thought to put that with duck but the subtle flavour allowed the smoked duck to be the rightful star of the dish.
Sarah also went for a salad, hers was fresh pea and goat’s curd with courgette, truffle and garden herbs. Again the presentation was very pretty and Sarah didn’t seem to mind that after eating the courgette, the dish was mainly peas. Personally I think I would have liked to see a bit more of that yummy goat’s curd on the plate!
The selection of mains on the menu all had a comfort food, pub grub kind of feel to them which to be honest seemed a bit inappropriate as it was a warm, sunny day and neither of us had particularly large appetites. Saying that, we soon talked ourselves in to ordering a burger and a chicken pie, both of which were delicious. We also saw afternoon tea being served at nearby tables and that looked fantastic!
The service was excellent at St Mary’s Inn, I definitely couldn’t fault the staff, my only dissapointment was the limited selection of soft drinks. Bearing in mind that most people would have to drive to get there I would have expected to see the likes of Fentimans (locally made soft drinks) on offer. As one of us was driving and the other heavily pregnant we couldn’t take advantage of the wide variety of alcoholic drinks available but we did enjoy a well made coffee in the relaxing outdoor terrace before heading home.