Review: Latimer's, Whitburn Bents Road, Sunderland
You can't beat fish and chips on Good Friday. It's what turkey is to Christmas.
And, despite the weather’s best efforts, it was going to take more than a drizzly day and a mini tidal surge to put people off their traditional Easter bait last weekend.
Granted the queues at the fish and chip shops along Roker and Seaburn weren’t snaking around the corner as we went for a Good Friday stroll, but there was still a decent amount of people wrapped up warm and laughing in the face of the grey skies as they huddled on benches to eat their battered cod.
Feeling less hardy, we decided to seek shelter in Latimer’s. Because of the time of year, we thought we’d never get a table and they don’t take reservations, but the bad weather worked in our favour for once and, with less of a Good Friday rush than usual, we managed to secure a table for two in the cafe side of this famed local deli.
A stone’s throw from Whitburn beach, it’s a cosy little spot to shelter from the sea fret. Seafaring paraphernalia, such as barometers, pepper the walls, crabs and other sea-dwellers feature on cushions and condiments are served in sandcastle buckets. The decor’s nothing too adventurous, for that you’ll need to walk further down the coast to Colmans Seafood Temple, but it’s cheery enough and the large window and decking looks on to the sea from which your dishes have been fished.
Seating is no frills and tables are tight if you’re sharing a number of dishes, but it matches the informal air of this cafe where you order at the counter.
The menu is larger than most cafes, offering a good range of breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, fish dishes and platters, as well as daily specials depending on what’s been brought in on the boats that morning. A warning though for those who like their fish lot battered: it’s served naked here.
Rather unexpectedly for a rustic cafe, the drinks menu is also good and we enjoyed a crisp Pinot Grigio blush (£15) which complemented the lighter nuances of our fish dishes perfectly.
To start, we enjoyed half a dozen Lindisfarne oysters to share, which at £8.50 I’ve seen pricier elsewhere. They were presented on a beautiful specially-made pottery oyster dish and went down a treat.
For mains, I went with a seafood platter with dressed crab (£14.95), which also comes with crevettes, prawns, seafood salad, crayfish tails, mussels in vinegar and salad leaves. It’s a basic version, but for those after the Porsche of platters, the luxury fruits de mer version comes in at £95 for up to four people sharing.
There was plenty for one on my quirky fish-shaped plate, with upturned shells filled to the gills with plump crayfish tails and prawns which you can lather with the various pots of accompanying sauce, as well as a fresh as can be dressed crab. I wasn’t as keen on the seafood salad which was nothing special, but with plenty of the other stuff I wasn’t bothered.
In need of stodge after our three-mile walk, my boyfriend chose one of the specials, a half lobster in garlic (£16) with chunky chips that were plump with flavour. Yes, the bill wasn’t cheap as chips, but then it’s never going to be for quality seafood served in a cosy hideaway.
On your way out make sure to cast your eye over the deli counter which has one of the best seafood ranges in the area.