The Rattler, Sea Road, South Shields

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Aside from the gastronomic safe bet that is Ocean Road, I’m never sure where to go for a meal on visits to Sanddancer land.

We were looking for a kid-friendly venue late on a Friday afternoon that wouldn’t be awash with lairy weekend drinkers. After a recommendation from a friend, we headed for The Rattler.

Our meal didn’t get off to a great start as we had to pay for parking, but I guess it’s to be expected at a restaurant on such a prime seafront spot.

As the sun had its hat on we were hoping to sit outside, but we were informed they weren’t serving food al fresco.

Still, the inside of this converted steam train, once used by the Whitburn Coal Company, has its own attractions.

This was my first visit and I was pleasantly surprised by its interiors, which featured trendy chintz and quirky lampshades and wall hangings.

We struck lucky with our timing. Arriving at 5.30pm meant we could choose from the happy hour menu, where you can pick up a pizza for £4.95 or a pasta for £6.50.

There’s also a small selection of other mains such as fish cakes, burger and steak.

Tate ordered from the kids’ section and got a good-sized portion of chicken nuggets for £3.95, which he polished off.

I was told they had run out of feta for my Greek pizza, but they replaced it with lashings of buffalo mozzarella. It was a whopping pizza too, the plate could barely hold it.

Cara had tagliatelle con frutti di mare (£6.50) – it was packed full of seafood treats including tiger prawns, mussels and squid – which were perfectly combined with the white wine, basil and tomato sauce.

Pasta dishes can be a bit tasteless and easily forgotten, but this was bursting with flavour.

Service was polite, but it took us a while to get a waitress’s attention on a few occasions.

After a couple of hours we were told we had to free up the table, but as this is a pub too, we just moved to the bar area for a parting tipple.

Katy Wheeler