Like the rest of the UK, the North East has been enjoying a lovely Summer. It's ideal weather to head to the coast in the early evening to grab some dinner so recently Simon and I decided to get the Metro to South Shields and do just that.
I was excited to cross another restaurant off my list and such a lovely day made us crave fish and chips so we decided it was finally time to visit Colmans Fish Restaurant in South Shields.
Colmans is a family owned restaurant that has been serving up fish and chips since 1926 although the family first started the business with a small hut in South Shields in 1905. They have won many local and international awards and are so well known they have their very own brown sign just down the road pointing tourists in the direction of the "Award Winning Fish & Chips". They've been called upon to provide their food all over the world and the walls of the restaurant are adorned with the photographs of visiting celebs (and Keith Chegwin!). So as you can imagine we were pretty excited about trying it out.
When you read so many good things about a restaurant it's pretty hard not to walk through the door with very high expectations.
The interior of the restaurant wasn't quite what I was expecting, it wasn't anything special and the water feature positioned by the door made the entrance smell pretty strongly of chlorine which was quite off-putting. I was glad when we were shown to a table tucked round the corner away from it.
I was really impressed with the variety of dishes on the menu and that the food is all locally sourced, definitely a whole lot more than your average seaside fish and chip restaurant. It took me a good while to decide what to order as I was so torn between traditional fish and chips and the crab cakes which sounded amazing served with a soy and ginger dipping sauce.
In the end we both decided on the cod and chips and, being a greedy girl, I also ordered mine with some sides - a pot of baked beans along with some bread & butter.
Here's where our problems began. Although the staff were lovely and friendly the whole restaurant felt a little chaotic. The restaurant was fairly busy with it being 5:15 pm on a Saturday afternoon however there were plenty of spare tables so it certainly wasn't full to capacity and there was a huge amount of staff working.
It felt like the staff in the restaurant weren't utilised very well. During our meal we were visited by about 5 different waiters and waitresses, it seemed like no one had been allocated our area which led to lots of confusion and mistakes.
Our food turned up without our drinks which was very annoying. With it being a warm day we were gasping and didn't really want to start tucking into our meal until we had something to drink. After a while it became obvious our drinks weren't coming so we had to remind a waitress and ask about our bread and butter which also hadn't arrived.
Much apologising followed, along with the wrong drinks and still no bread and butter. So we had to wait for our correct drinks to appear and ask again for our bread. I also took the opportunity to ask for some mayonnaise after my first request had led to one very stingy little sachet of sauce.
Unfortunately I never saw my mayonnaise but after the mix up with the drinks and the bread I couldn't be bothered to remind them again as I just wanted to get on with my food.
The good news is the fish and chips were absolutely amazing and completely worth the hype. The batter was perfectly crispy and formed the perfect shell around the flaky fish and the chips were chunky. The portion was so generous too, and I ended up being too full to finish it which is unheard of.
I was so happy when the bread arrived as it was a stottie from a local bakery. Since moving to the North East I've become obsessed with stotties and this one was absolutely perfect, the best stottie I've ever tasted.
The meal was pretty expensive compared to your usual fish and chips at the seaside, and whilst I didn't begrudge paying for the food itself, I felt that with all the awards the restaurant boasts the service should have been so much better. It did leave me wondering if I'd bother going back.
Feeling absolutely stuffed we decided to go down to the seafront to walk off some of our food. Although it was a real struggle to put one foot in front of the other I'm glad we made the effort because it was lovely to see the sea.
I'd be really interested to hear if anyone else has had similar experiences? I feel so disappointed and am hoping we were very unlucky and caught them on a rare bad day? Are Colmans worth another go?