Whitley Bay, the once thriving seaside resort whose bar and restaurant scene crumbled into decline as the last of the stag and hen parties and bank holiday drinkers sloped off and sought their fun elsewhere. Now it’s upmarket Tynemouth, a few bays down that pulls in the crowds with its Edison lightbulb-lit bars and lively restaurants all packed to the rafters.
So the opening of Hinnies on the sea front has filled Whitley Bay with hope that this just could be the first green shoots of a positive new era for our seaside town. No pressure!
Andy Hook, who owns the multi-award winning Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle, and previously Sidney’s on Front Street in Tynemouth, is the man behind Hinnies along with his business partner David Townsley.
Andy said: “It’s a brilliant time to return to the coast to launch Hinnies – a relaxed, informal, warm and friendly neighbourhood restaurant serving comfort food we all like to eat – earthy, rustic and hearty dishes made properly from scratch, using local and seasonal produce to give a real taste of our beloved North East.
“We chose the location because of its prime position on the spectacular Whitley Bay seafront. The timing of our arrival is ideal, thanks to North Tyneside Council’s exciting re-development plans for the coastline.
Head chef Jonny Wardale joins Hinnies from catering company Love Food, and also worked for Fresh Element which operates Six at the Baltic amongst other venues.
Effortlessly stylish with calming sage green walls, comfy and cosy booths at the back, a few big tables for a gaggle of mates or bustling families plus a scattering of tables for two for more intimate diners. Mismatch chairs, vintage tiles, kitchenalia, natural textures and colours – love it. Not too over-styled and self-conscious like some of these new places, instead it achieves a relaxed vibe right off the bat. Apparently the restaurant is decked out almost entirely from recycled materials.
The warm welcome that you’d expect from an eager-to-please team at a freshly opened joint. Nothing was too much trouble, but they weren’t all over us like a rash. They didn’t hurry the food either, so we got to linger over our meal and relish a bit of child-free time together.
Hinnie’s is all about Geordie comfort food, so the menu is littered with local favourites like pease pudding, Newcastle Brown Ale slow-cooked beef and North Sea fish and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce; but there are also sophisticated flourishes like Pan-Fried Scottish salmon with white bean, tomato and dill dressing.
You feel totally cosseted at the mere thought of the North East coast creamy crab soup, foraged mushrooms on toast with a poached hen’s egg, Black(friars) pudding, poached egg, crispy bacon, pan-roasted chicken, creamy mash, peas and bacon… they all sound like comfort classics to me.
We didn’t get as far as dessert but my goodness it’s a good reason to go back, check these out…
Spiced apple crumble, custard
Crème brûlée, Tynemouth Garibaldis
Sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel sauce, banana ice-cream
Singin’ Hinnies, bramble jam, clotted cream
Warm chocolate brownie, cornflake ice-cream
There’s also the Weekend Brunch Menu to explore along with the Sunday Roasts…
I went meat-free in January and thankfully vegetarians are well catered for at Hinnies, and they clearly mark everything on the menu for those with special dietary requirements.
We started withs some nibbles and tucked into some house sourdough with salted butter and home-made flatbreads and dips. The portions were pretty generous, and we particularly loved the fresh tangy tomato and coriander dip. The sourdough was malty and delicious.
Moving on to our mains Matthew tucked into a dish of Pan Haggerty, greens, poached hens’ egg and mustard cream. It was beautifully presented and gone in a flash! I waded into a hearty bowl of pumpkin, chickpea and banana curry with mint yoghurt and flatbread. It was bursting with flavour, tangy and sweet but not blow-your-head-off spicy.
The sides all sounded incredible, but we decided to share a bowl of chips – they were chunky, skin-on and oh-so-crisp.
Once we were done eating I ordered a final cheeky glass of red wine and we sat back and let the fine fare go down. We’d just been to our eldest son’s school parent’s evening and it was good to have some headspace for a debrief!
Talking of children, there’s a special kids menu packed with the kind of comfort food kids love balanced with a healthy amount of fruit and vegetables.
Sam and Arlo will definitely be accompanying us on our next visit – probably for an end-of-the-week tea or weekend post-Rugby brunch. I can already predict that Sam will opt to make his own pizza and Arlo will dive into some chicken strippers with carrots and mash. The fact that there’s sticky toffee pudding on the menu will please my little pudding king greatly!
Value for money
I think the dishes are all reasonably priced given the high quality of the ingredients and standard of cooking. Starters are around £6, mains between £9-£11 and desserts £5-£6. Our meal was about £40 including drinks, which felt pretty decent.
A stylish and relaxed local restaurant with an enticing menu that deserves a thorough road-testing! It’s an exciting start to Whitley Bay’s regeneration and hopefully a sign of things to come. Please sir, can we have some more?! Next time I’ll skip the bread to make room for one of those desserts…
10 East Parade, The Promenade, Whitley Bay NE26 1AP
0191 447 0500
twitter & instagram @hinniesrest
Opening times: Tuesday to Friday 12-2pm for lunch & 5-9pm for dinner; 9am-9:30pm Saturday & 9am-5pm Sunday