Sunderland's new seafood restaurant North: What to expect from the menu

Small plates, big flavours and the kind of menu you just won’t find elsewhere in the city – North is a real breath of fresh air at Sunderland seafront.

One in a wave of new businesses that are bringing life to old seafront units, it’s been a long road of renovations, £250,000 worth to be precise, to turn the former storage unit at the far end of Seaburn promenade into North.

But, two years after it was announced that Sunderland would be getting its first dedicated seafood restaurant, it’s reeling in its first customers.

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Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning on heading up North – which is looking far from grim.

What to expect from new restaurant North

Food

For a city by the sea, Sunderland is sorely lacking in seafood restaurants. Chippies are, of course, in plentiful supply, but more delicate seafood dishes are a harder find.

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North is certainly filling a gap in the market with a menu that’s 50% modern seafood and 50% non-seafood small plates, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.

The menu is dependent on produce the chefs have at their fingertips and will change as the restaurant establishes itself, but on our visit it was certainly off to a flying start, with options such as sea bream, tomato and fennel broth (£9.50), crispy squid with ancho chilli and lime rouille dip (£7), flank steak, chimichurri and grilled vegetables (£9), tofu, nori & beetroot marinade with mango and gochujang (£8) and grilled tenderstem broccolli with garlic and sesame (£4).

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The new North Restaurant, South Bents, Seaburn

It was also really refreshing to see paella on the menu, starting from £24, which you’ll need to order to share.

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We dove into the small plates menu, however, with around five to six dishes being enough for two people, with a couple of sides on top for good measure.

The mezcal-cured salmon (£6) from the nibbles section was a great choice; the Jalapeno and lime dressing adding a zingy kick to the delicate slivers of fish.

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Great, too, to see oysters on the menu with four different options of the delicacy to choose from, priced £3 each.

Mezcal-cured salmon and oysters
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We shunned the natural and classic mignonette choices for the more unusual fermented pineapple with hot sauce choice and citrus ponzu, the latter of which was the perfect balance of tart and tangy that slipped down a treat with the silky mollusc.

Next up, we picked our way through our seafood small plates, some of them so good you won’t want to share, even though they’re designed to do so.

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My favourite was the mussels with chorizo, nduja and sherry cream (£8), it was a really creative layering of flavours that elevated the humble mussels.

The tempura cod cheeks with tomato and miso jam and citrus ponzu dip (£8.50) were also really fat with flavour with great attention to detail in the seasoning.

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Tempura cod cheeks with tomato and miso jam and citrus ponzu dip

From the specials menu, octopus with confit potatoes, piquillo pepper and paprika (£10.50) also used the sea’s natural larder to great effect.

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As stated, dishes will be tinkered with as the weeks go on, but you can expect a really creative, colourful affair that’s a melting pot of Asian and Mediterranean-infused flavours, a menu that’s certainly got enough pull to lure people to this destination site.

Decor

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Brought to the city by the team behind Mexico 70 in the city centre, you’d expect North to be a stylish affair – and it is.

While the 1930s Berlin-esque name font may be similar to Mexico 70, the rest of the site very much has its own personality. Think reclaimed wood walls, deep blue tones, mood lighting and leather seating designed to be sunk into. It’s casual and non formal, but it still feels special.

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The open kitchen is also a great feature so you can see the chefs at work.

Octopus with confit potatoes, piquillo pepper and paprika
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Then, of course, there’s the views.

One metre from the beach, North has arguably one of the best locations in the city which will really come into its own on those balmy late summer nights.

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The council has recently installed temporary low fencing to protect the dunes and give their rich biodiversity a break from human interference, but they’ve been well designed with a beachcomber vibe and plenty of gaps between the slats so as not to take away from the views.

Drinks

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Expect the classy cocktails you get at sister site Mexico 70, with options such as classic margarita (£8.50), Bottle aged Negroni (£9) and more.

There’s also a good wine list which complements the food offering, with glasses starting at £6 and bottles from £24.

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Opening hours

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North is currently open Wednesday to Saturdays from 3pm, with hours set to be extended once it gets into its stride, with a daytime offering coming soon.

Booking

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With only around 30 covers, and much anticipation for its opening, you’ll need to book ahead. You can make a reservation for 30 days in advance at dishcult.com/restaurant/north

Is it child and dog-friendly?

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Children are welcome, however, there’s no children’s menu or high chairs.

Dogs aren’t permitted in the restaurant, but North has permission for a small amount of seating at the end of the promenade which will be used in warmer months where people can sit with dogs.

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There’s also two accessible toilets on site.

There's around 30 covers in total
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The new North Restaurant, South Bents, Seaburn
North is at the far end of Seaburn promenade