YOU’RE sure of a warm welcome at St Mary’s Inn, not least because it boasts more than its fair share of wood burning stoves.
The welcoming fires, parquet flooring and painted wood panelling just make you want to kick off your boots, put up your feet and disappear into a foaming pint or two.
Behind the bar is a procession of cask ales offering tempting tastes of the North East including, from the Tyne Valley’s Wylam Brewery, a specially-made St Mary’s Ale.
In keeping with the regional feel, Norman Cornish pitmen paintings vie for wall space along with, among other curios, quirky ink drawings by Morpeth cartoonist David Haldane, apparently a regular at the bar.
What may well draw him to St Mary’s is the menu. And it’s a menu which includes dishes that would have had a familiar ring to the old pitmen of Cornish.
I doffed my flat cap to the mince and dumplings with seasonal vegetables (£12), but there were some other traditional bloke-down-the-pub delights like beer battered fish and chips and braised lamb.
You want to kick off your boots, put up your feet and disappear into a foaming pint or two
While St Mary’s says it offers simple honest food with passion not pretension, that doesn’t mean it lacks finesse or thought.
My starter of heritage beetroot salad, goat’s curd and pickled walnuts was a sweet and sharp delight.
Looked great and tasted even better.
The mince and dumplings were rich and bursting with flavour. My wife chose the rib-eye steak (£24) which didn’t disappoint, particularly with an imaginative side order of bone marrow and parsley chips.
The rhubarb and custard pavlova (£6) was a dainty sweet with which to finish, though for those with a need for something more substantial, I’d recommend the chocolate fudge cake with caramel ice cream (£7).
The lower floorspace of St Mary’s is bars, snugs, restaurant and a large dining and conference room which looks like it would be ideal for private parties or business meetings.
And if you’re looking to stop over, the upper floors have 11 stylish bedrooms to choose from.
St Mary’s Inn is a destination pub well worth taking time out to visit for a long lazy afternoon of good food and drink or a well-earned overnight stay.
AT A GLANCE
Where: St Mary’s Lane, St Mary’s Park, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 6BL
Telephone 01670 293293