Let’s be honest – coastal Northumberland is not well endowed with good restaurants, so places like Audela are a shining light for anyone visiting the area who is looking for a good dinner. For us, that was a 40 minute drive from Seahouses. And well worth the journey. Audela is a lovely place. If it was near home, we’d be regulars. It ticks all the boxes for us – a modern design to the room, comfy chairs, friendly staff who are absolutely on the ball and a short menu (just four choices at each course) of food you want to eat – we’d have happily ordered any of the items.
It’s pretty much a given that a place like this is going to start you off with an amuse bouche (or “snack” as an increasing number of places are calling them). In this case, a spiced carrot & lentil soup. Just a couple of mouthfuls but, by now, you’ve realised that the kitchen really does know what’s what.
There was a twice baked soufflé as a starter, using leeks and local Doddington cheddar. It was well made but you really wanted it to be more cheesey. No issue with flavours on the other starter – a salad of smoked herring and mackerel, with Pink Fir potatoes and crunch from lightly pickled fennel, samphire and thinly sliced radish. Big gutsy flavours to enjoy here.
Chicken breast had been properly cooked so it was still juicy. It sat on braised pearl barley, to which baby leeks and sweetcorn had been added. And a bit of extra savouriness came from a couple of slices of black pudding. It’s the sort of dish they could serve all year round with slight seasonal tweaks – and they should serve it all year, as it’s really good.
There was accurate cooking with roast lamb rump, served at medium rare. There’s fondant potatoes, peas, bacon, artichoke and a very fashionable wedge of baby gem lettuce, ever so slightly wilted. It all works very well.
We often skip dessert but thought that, as the savoury courses had been successful, it was worth giving them a try. A caramel tart was sweet and rich, but not overly so. To be picky, the pastry could have been crisper but a lovely hazelnut ice cream distracted me from it. Cranachan may not have been a classic version, but there were raspberries, a raspberry sorbet, pistachio granola and what was billed as a whisky flavoured cream. The booze flavour couldn’t be detected but, hey, what’s not to like about this.
We finished with good espresso – strong, hot, but not bitter.