Sea and Soil is a small restaurant in the seafront Northumbrian town of Amble. It is owned by Jonny Bird and his wife, Julie. When we arrive for dinner the restaurant is empty but within minutes the place starts to fill up. Johnny is also the chef, he trained under Albert Roux, and as you start to read the menu you get the impression that he knows what he is doing.
I’m pleased to see that Sea and Soil stocks some proper bottled beers. From the Notebook is a brewery created by two guys with a passion for real ale and a passion for wildlife. Men after my own heart! All their beers are named after wild creatures and I choose one, The Puffin, a sharp tasting best bitter with hints of caramel.
Rock is saving herself for dessert and decides against having a starter, but I really fancy the hot smoked salmon scotch egg served with horseradish creme fraiché. It is a thing of beauty! Though the strength of the horseradish does require me to order another Puffin.
After a great starter I’m really looking forward to my main course of lobster tail & crab risotto with cured ham and green beans. My expectations have risen so high that I’m a tiny bit disappointed by the risotto – there are nice pieces of crab, lobster and cured ham and the dish is full of flavour but lacks the creaminess I expect from a risotto. Rock is, yet again, having the sea trout – this time with apple, celeriac and caramel hazelnut – the fish is perfectly cooked but the caramel element is a little too sweet for her.
For dessert we share the warm chocolate fondant with cinder toffee ice cream. It is a sublime fondant – a delicate sponge containing molten chocolate that runs out as you break into the sponge and perfectly complemented by the ice cream and pieces of fruit. Wow!
Overall a really fine experience. We loved the fact that Jonny regularly left the kitchen to come and talk to the diners, not only to check that they were enjoying themselves, but also to solicit feedback. This shows real confidence in his kitchen and a desire to satisfy his customers.