HEAD down to Costa Del Roker this summer for a slice of Spanish cuisine.
That’s the promise from The Beach House as it doffs its sombrero to Mediterranean fare with a series of tapas nights.
Running on selected Fridays in May, June and July, it’s a great way of attracting people to this stretch of eateries in the fairly new Pier Point development of an evening.
I have to admit, in a case of out of sight, out of mind, I often forget about it when going to the seafront for a meal as it’s tucked away beneath the Coast Road.
We visited last Friday, and though there was a typical coastal nip in the air, The Beach House offers a warm welcome with floor to ceiling windows offering views of our spruced-up seafront.
The decor echoes the cafe and restaurant’s setting with black and white images of yesteryear Roker adorning the walls and scatter cushions decked in Breton stripes, rope and lighthouse motifs.
Though its trade is predominantly cafe, seaside food, the venue has an alcohol licence which works well for its night-time ventures. However, it would have been nice to have more of a choice than house red or white on the wine menu.
In keeping with the Spanish theme, you do get a glass of sangria as a reception drink on arrival, along with bread and olives, which gets you in the mood perfectly.
The menu keeps it simple – you choose either four or six items from the menu, but you also receive a selection of traditional Spanish cured meats, served with mixed olives, Manchego cheese, olive oil, ciabatta and a sherry vinegar dip on top of that. At £14.50 for four items, or £17 for six per person, it’s cheaper than I’ve paid at chain tapas restaurants.
We chose six each, and were presented with a veritable bounty of food. Four each would have been enough to sate our appetites.
We waited more than half an hour for our dishes, but all arrived at once, instead of in dribs and drabs as is usually the case with tapas, and it’s more fiddly to do lots of little dishes, than one main. Time has obviously been spent on the presentation too – it’s as pleasing to the eye as to the palate.
Our haul included chorizo, salt and pepper squid, chicken and ham croquettes, crispy whitebait, meatballs, king prawns, marinated chicken, Spanish tortilla, patatas bravas and vegetable empanadas.
Highlights included the spicy chorizo, chunky sausages bursting with smokey flavour. It was as good as I’ve eaten it in its country of origin.
The tortilla too was a treat, a dense omelette-like dish, with chunks of potato, served as a satisfying slab.
The meatballs too were a winner. Served in a traditional terracotta dish, you get plenty for your pennies. Minced to perfection, they were served in a thick tomato piperade, plump with flavour, which proved a perfect accompaniment. Less popular was our prawns, which could have done with a greater kick of chilli and garlic – the Spanish never usually shy away from the stuff.
The sun may not always shine in Sunderland, but this culinary trip to Spain is certainly a refreshing change from the Italian and Indian eatery-dominated seafront.