REVIEW: Lambton Arms, Eighton Banks

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SAT like orphaned siblings on either side of Sunderland/Gateshead border, the villages of Eighton Banks and Springwell Village don’t seem to belong anywhere.

Rugged hills, grazing horses and bucolic-looking pubs don’t quite spring to mind when you picture the frontier land where Tyneside meets Wearside.

After driving past the aforementioned pubs and thinking countless times “I really should stop for a drink sometime”, cat-sitting duties in Birtley finally gave me the excuse I needed to realise this modest ambition

I bundled my forlorn-looking housemate into the car and headed off to the hills. Two appeased cats later, we were enjoying a pint outside as the late summer sun set over the hills.

I’d expected to see a bigger real ale offering from a Greene King pub, at least from the brewery’s own range.

All that was available was Black Sheep and Old Speckled Hen – good stable brands nonetheless, and a pint of each sufficed.

The stone-fronted pub is something of a Tardis, open-plan but split over levels into an airy bar, lounge and dining area.

I’d expected to find two occupied parking places when I turned into the seemingly small gap to the side of the pub, but was surprised to discover a large carpark, beer garden, decking and a patio area.

There are also picnic tables at the front with panoramic views. Sitting here looking out over the valley to the Silver Hills, it was hard to believe urban sprawl and throbbing A1 lay just minutes below us.

As the late summer sun shrank over the fields, I glanced at my housemate, noticing her gaze had become suddenly wistful. She didn’t tear her eyes away as she replied to my expression of concern.

“I was just looking at that yellow grit bin,” she said, nodding at an example of such over the road.

“I’d quite like one, but I don’t know what I’d do with it.”

While we were discussing potential uses, including a planter and a dispenser for cereal, a call came for anyone interested in joining the pub quiz.

Our ears pricked up and we abandoned the darkening outdoors for the warmer interior, where £2 bought us entry to the quiz and a bowl of very passable curry and rice.

The Lambton Arms has a large menu packed full of traditional pub favourites with a smattering of more unusual dishes, but having already dined earlier we stuck with the complementary curry.

We vowed to return to sample the wares and have another run at the quiz.