Hinnies is one of my favourite restaurants. Indeed, in my opinion, few other restaurants can match their unique, hearty, Northern-themed menu.
We arrived at Hinnies on a balmy September evening in the midst of our Indian summer heatwave. The descending sun saturated the sky, colouring the darkening blue with warm pink and the gentle waves lapped at the shore. Many people were coming up from a day at the beach, sand in their hair and salt crystalising on their bare legs. We walked towards the restaurant in the blissful haze that comes with the summertime, ready to fill our bellies with some good Northern grub.
If you’ve never been before, Hinnies is extremely cosy with coastal themed interiors and massive windows that overlook the sea. It’s the perfect destination for all year round with sea-blue walls that are framed with wooden panels and exposed brick walls. Though we visited in the late summer, Hinnies is the perfect autumn/winter destination because of the cosy, warm interiors that seem so inviting against the harsh, abrasive currents of the adjacent North Sea.
We’ve set the scene, so now for the part you’ve all been waiting for- the food!
The menu is what I can only describe as pub grub done posh, with hearty traditional British dishes tarted up to delicious new heights, Hinnies is not afraid to add a little flavour into what were once considered dreaded school dinners. The menu is always changing and, on this particular day, one of the starter courses had sold out so I was offered an alternative of smoked salmon on a blini smothered in thick crème fresh. Admittedly, smoked salmon isn’t quite giving off the ‘posh pub-grub’ vibe that I initially sold Hinnies as, but we’ll let that slide as it was a last-minute addition to the menu.
With contrasting hues of orangey-pink salmon and the shadow of green and purple lettuce the starter was almost like artwork, I didn’t want to prod at such a beautiful arrangement with my fork- it felt almost barbaric to disturb such a display. All the same, I was hungry, so I did.
My dining partner opted for the more Hinnies-esque choice of the black pudding scotch egg. Once again, the intricacy and downright beauty of this starter was the first thing to attract my attention with the bright yolk of the egg engulfing the plate in true show-stopping fashion. This dish certainly embodies the concept of Hinnies as it shows how the chefs reinvent old, tired ingredients that often have a bad reputation into a brand new innovative and equally delicious dish. By exchanging the humble sausage with black pudding you’re confronted with an entirely new, much more potent flavour that complements the eggy deliciousness of the yolk. However, please note that this dish could be slightly overwhelming if you’re not so big on your meats.
For my main, I went for an old-school classic of fish and tatties. I went to a Catholic school growing up which meaning no meat would be served on a Friday, so a variety of fish and potatoes was usually what we were given. This stems back to my original point that Hinnies knows how to glam up your school dinner classics and make them enjoyable as well as hearty and delicious. The fish was pan-fried hake with a crispy skin on one side, served on a bed of garden peas and salty bacon, that sat above creamy potatoes. The meal was incredibly light but managed to fill me up and didn’t leave me with the same bloated guilt that my usual trips out result in. I’ve only just started getting into fish properly and, to be honest, this meal converted me to proudly announce myself as a fish-over-meat kind of girl which, trust me, is a big deal.
My dining partner indulged in the pork stew that was adorned with chorizo, black pudding, beans, and kale. The colours on this dish are stunning and are reminiscent of an autumnal day; the green of the kale against the brown and orange hues of the other components mimic the changing colours of the leaves. It’s strange to think that the arrangement of food can transport you to a particular setting or space, but Hinnies truly excels in its presentation skills. Hinnies is also particularly keen on taking humble ingredients like kale- something I always used to turn my nose up at- and blending them with fantastic accompaniments in innovative ways to reinvent ‘traditional’ food.
I didn’t manage to get any pictures of our third and final course because I was far too busy stuffing my face before I could admit that I was too full to eat. I am such a dessert lover and have a massive sweet tooth so this is always a very important course and it’s often the make or break as to whether I would return to the restaurant- fear not, Hinnies does not disappoint. I went for Hinnies’ take on the cult-classic sticky toffee pudding which was served with salted caramel ice cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. The pudding was moist and light and offered everything you want from a sticky toffee; however, the magic lay in the ice cream. I’ve never been too big of a fan for ice cream, but this one was unlike anything I’d ever tasted. The often too sickly sweetness of the caramel was interrupted by a striking tang of sea salt that left a balanced and satisfying aftertaste that even outshone the pudding itself.
Many businesses have been shaken by 2020 and we all need your help more than ever. We’re so blessed to have such a strong community spirit and it is truly what makes us so proud to be from the North East. If you fancy doing your bit and having some decent grub, Hinnies is the place to start.