Riley’s Fish Shack (and Tynemouth generally)




As mentioned in last week’s post on Barrio Comida, the place used to be home to Riley’s Fish Shack. The two restauranteurs got together, and agreed to make the Quayside containers the new home of Barrio Comida, and keep Riley’s Fish Shack at its permanent home on the beach in Tynemouth. So here’s a post about the second set of shipping containers, right on the seafront at King Edward’s Bay, Tynemouth. Yay for the seaside! (It’s only a 15 min drive from Newcastle, and the metro goes there too so you’ve got no excuse even if you don’t have a whip.)



Tynemouth is an adorable little town; its cobbled high street is stuffed with old-school fish ‘n’ chip shops and cosy cafés. It doesn’t feel artificially quaint though because it’s also rough and rugged – the high street opens out onto a cliff face and the old ruins of Tynemouth Castle and Priory. As the river Tyne meets the North Sea, it’s as rocky and dramatic as your moodiest of days. Also, King Malcolm III of Scotland is buried there so that’s some fun history too.



We parked down by the largest of Tynemouth’s three beaches (Longsands) and walked up the coastline to the smallest of the three, King Edward’s Bay. Apparently these are some of the best beaches for surfing in the UK. I can’t say I’d know, but the interweb seems to say so and everything the interweb says is true.

It’s a quick 10 min walk up to the beach where Riley’s Fish Shack is nestled under the cliff face. I’m not sure how to say that you can actually smell the sea (and that it’s fresh and wonderful) without being clichéd? Anyway, let me know, because you can and I’d like to say so.



The Rileys (Adam and Lucy, the husband and wife team who founded and own the place) have turned the containers into a wooden-panelled den, with large submarine-style iron windows and door-frames looking out onto the seafront. They serve local, seasonal fish and seafood, cooked simply over a real charcoal fire, BBQ and wood oven. All the fish that they source comes fresh off the daily fishing boats that go in and out of Tynemouth. Their beers, ales, brownies, etc. all have the same sourcing behind them. The sweet treats that sit in a little tub at the till are all from a local chocolatier in Tynemouth (raspberry and salted caramel brownies particularly recommended), their coffee is from the Ouseburn Coffee Co. (I don’t drink coffee, but a coffee-drinking friend said it was a really, really good one), and they get their alcoholic bevs from places like the wonderful Wylam Brewery in Newcastle. (More on that another time…)



So to the food! Before the following sounds like a lot to eat, it’s actually what was eaten in two separate visits. I’ve been there twice in two weeks because the first time they were still under the Christmas hangover and they hadn’t resumed their usual menu. It didn’t matter because the paninis and things we had in place of it were delicious, but I had to go back and try the main menu too.



We had a crab pot and toasted stottie, that came with a fresh, citrusy salad, root crisps and aioli. The stottie was oiled in garlic butter and that on its own would have made us happy women, let alone the crab we put on it, which was real crabby goodness. Then a hot roast salmon panini with olives, shallots and mozzarella. Wunderbar.



On trip number two, their usual menu of grilled seafood was up for grabs. Three of us this time, we got a chilli fish empanada, chargrilled chilli squid sticks and pan fried salted hake. They all came with garlic and rosemary potatoes, salad, and freshly baked bread. I took some really bad photos which don’t make it look as delicious as it was, sorry. The hake was unbelievable; super soft and moist with a really crispy skin. From our seats we could also see the empanada being freshly made from the mound of dough on the surface, and it tasted as good as it looked.



Both times I’ve been, the place has been totally rammed, often by quite a few dogs too. Everyone knows it’s something special, and locals regularly come for casual lunches of their open wraps and grilled goods. There’s also a breakfast menu, and I can imagine it being a pretty spectacular place to have your morning coffee. A little light bites selection, or just a drink pit stop for those not wanting to stop their beach activities for a full meal is also on offer. It’s not the cheapest place in the world, because they’re committed to not ripping off the local fishermen, but the price range is wide enough for all kinds of budgets. There’s lobster and surf and turf for the decadent among us.



For a bit of a digesting walk afterwards, wander up the cliff steps into Tynemouth town, or meander around the priory ruins to the lighthouse promenade. When doing the latter, the sun started to set and we had a romantic moment with the lovely lighthouse fella. (And my orange fleece looked wonderful in the orangey sunset glow.)




In Tynemouth, the old church has been lovingly converted into Green Ginger Shopping Arcade; an old-school sweet shop inside, run by women who call you ‘darling’ and ‘pet’, is well worth the visit.



D’you want to go to the seaside? Yep.

Didn’t take this pic, but how great does it look at night!



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