Beneath the priory in Tynemouth, you will find a small restaurant hugging the slopes of King Edward’s Bay. It sits at the top of the small beach, and without knowing it’s there, it could easily be missed.
However, given the long queue at 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon, word of this hidden gem has clearly spread quickly and people sure as hell aren’t struggling to find it!
The restaurant itself appears to be a converted shipping container. I can’t be sure if this is the case, but either way, it looks absolutely killer. The hanging lights, wood burning stoves and fantastic use of space not only make for a comfortable & stylish eatery but also creates a great atmosphere in which to enjoy some first-rate food.
There are 3 or 4 tables inside and seats with a couple of wood burning heaters running along the outside. I would recommend wearing something warm if you’re sitting outside, but even with some light snow on our visit, we managed fine.
Fresh, local and sustainable; these are the values that the Riley’s Fish Shack menu is based upon. Where possible the restaurant sources its produce for local sustainable sources and like their website says, “Sourcing and cooking this way means our offerings are always fresh, subject to change and once they’re gone they’re gone.”
The menu, as a result, is simple and changes based on availability, so our late arrival meant some of the items were sold out..I’ll be sure to head there earlier on my next visit.
The prices may seem a little high, but given the outstanding quality of the food and the breathtaking location, I consider it extremely reasonable. We opted for a Monkfish wrap, three homemade fishcakes, a black coffee and a can of pop, totaling £25.
It took about half an hour in total to have our order taken, get seated and for the food to arrive.
The smells shooting out of the kitchen are enough to drive you mad waiting, but patience is a virtue here. We took a seat and enjoyed the beautiful views, relaxing music and straight away got chatting to the guys sitting next to us, showing just how relaxed and social this place is.
First up was the Monkfish wrap. Needless to say, the food comes piping hot, given it’s served straight from the grill. The fish is served with flatbread, garlic roast potatoes, tomato/herb salad, fennel salad + relish.
The portion sizes are very generous with more than enough food for me. The fish itself had a wonderful subtle flavour, with a nice firm texture. The cooking method also left a nice char on the outside which added to the flavour of the fish.
The flatbread itself was delicious, coming fresh made and piping hot from the log fire oven. Together with the accompanying salad, potatoes, and relish, you’re presented with a fresh mix of flavours that work exceptionally well together. You get a sharpness from the vinaigrette salad, a spicy tangy heat from the relish, which when combined with the meaty fish results in the best seafood wrap you could ask for.
The freshness and simplicity of the ingredient are undoubtedly at the core of what makes Riley’s dishes so utterly irresistible.
Next were the homemade fishcakes. These light, fluffy treats were also accompanied by a vinaigrette salad. They’re cooked over the coal fire on a flat surface. They’re filling and contain a great balance of potato and fish and remind me of my Nana’s homemade fishcakes…home cooking at it’s best.
They’re a cheaper option from the menu at 3 for £8 and make a great warming dish on a cold day like ours.
To top it all of, the view, friendly people and overall atmosphere provide everything you need for a North East coastal dining experience unlike any other.
In case it wasn’t apparent by now, Riley’s Fish Shack score a resounding 10 out of 10 for me, and I will no doubt be frequenting the place as often as possible.
The entire ethos of the company, fresh ingredients, and friendly staff are all something to be appreciated. The quality of their dishes makes them something you really can’t afford to miss.
Not to sound overly sentimental, but the North East of England’s coastline is for me, one of the most stunning places in the world and enjoying a rustic, homely meal on it, really is an experience you won’t find anywhere else.