The £30-million Whitley Bay Masterplan is set to transform the town’s seafront with major regeneration planned from the Spanish City to St Mary’s Lighthouse.
But work has been progressing at a snail’s pace and the residents of this coastal town – including myself – are more than a little tired of waiting for the zing to be put back into the iconic white domed building and surrounding area.
So we collectively gave a little jump for joy when we heard the news that renowned restaurateur Andy Hook was bringing a new eatery to Whitley Bay.
Andy, who owns the popular Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle, opened Hinnies right on the seafront last month.
Although Hinnies’ décor is lighter with a subtle hint of nautical – not the dark and atmospheric Medieval feel of Blackfriars, both restaurants’ menus have distinct similarities. Perhaps not too surprising, given the fact that the head chefs are brothers.
My partner and I visited Hinnies at 6pm on a weekday evening, when you can enjoy three courses from the weekday lunch and dinner menu for just £15 (£12 for two courses). After 7pm, dishes are individually priced but still reasonable. This weekday menu is also served on Saturdays, along with a weekend brunch menu. Sunday just offers the brunch menu.
I chose the delicate and fragrant Thai fishcake for my starter, before dedicating my meal to traditional Geordie fare – firstly with the upmarket Pan Haggerty – a heavenly combination of potato, onion and cheese served with a poached egg and mustard cream sauce – before trying my first ever Singin’ Hinnies – the authentic North East dessert comprising scone-like griddle-cakes served with bramble jam and clotted cream.
My partner chose the sweet scallops served in a crab voluté from the daily specials to start, followed by the adventurous pumpkin, chickpea and banana curry with mint yogurt and flatbread, finishing his meal with the hearty sticky toffee pudding.
Hinnies definitely offers something different to the array of Italian and Indian restaurants that mostly make up Whitley Bay’s current dining scene. And with the new restaurant packed by the time I left, it seems that locals are as just as glad to see Hinnies move into the area as I am.