For a coastal city, Sunderland is rather amiss when it comes to fishy fare.
Aside from dozens of chippies and a sprinkling of dedicated fish-mongers on the local high streets, there’s little to offer those with a hankering for hake or a penchant for pollock.
But that’s where Latimer’s deli comes into play.
It’s a family name that’s become synonymous with quality, locally-caught seafood. But I didn’t realise it had a sit-in cafe-cum-dining area until a visit on a wintry Sunday.
Feeling windswept and battered from a walk along the coast, we sought shelter in this quaint cafe, which is peppered with sea-faring trinkets and odes to the ocean.
The atmosphere is distinctly “homely” and was the perfect way to while away the hours sheltering from the storm which raged outside.
I also noticed a decked area which would be perfect for sunnier days, especially with the cafe’s prime spot overlooking the North Sea. These waters don’t just provide a pretty backdrop, it also fills its menu each day with fresh catch.
The menu is simple but effective, with a good range of basic fish dishes. Even the non-fish lovers are catered for with a section including sandwiches filled with cheese and real ale chutney and chicken, bacon and mayonnaise.
However, it was the promise of fresh fish that lured us here and we dove straight into the seafood choices, which range from prawn sandwiches (£6.95) and fruits de mere salads (£11.95), to smoked haddock, leek and potato pasty (£2.95) and whole dressed local lobster with chips for £26.
For those after a light bite, the seafood shell section offers anchovies, mussels, whelks, crayfish, octopus and more for £2.95 or £3.95 a shell.
To start, I chose three rock oysters which, compared to prices elsewhere, were very reasonable at £3.60 for three, or a dozen for £13.50.
They were presented in a glass dish with indents for the oysters and accompanying lemon. Fresh off the boat, all they needed was a squirt of lemon. They slid down a treat.
On paper, my next choice seemed pricey for a sandwich – £7.95. But this was a sandwich bursting to its doughy seams with crab meat.
I’d gone for the mixed meat option, both white and brown, but you can have just white for £13.95 or just brown for £6.95.
Served with salad, it was more than enough to satisfy my hunger pangs.
Drinks-wise, there’s a good range of locally-made juice drinks and proper coffees. You can even bring your own wine, but beware, there is a corkage fee.
We were loath to leave our cosy spot by the window, so decided to stay for a cake.
These vary daily and are homemade with no nuts or hydrogenated fats. There’s also gluten-free options.
We chose to share a slab of the cappuccino and chocolate cake £2.75, which came with lashings of squirty cream. It was divine – not too sweet, not too heavy, just right.