Eating dinner is that bit more pleasurable when you can see where your food came from through the restaurant window.
The Albion in Arnside is blessed with a spectacular view across the sweeping sands of the Kent Estuary, but you have to be quick to bag a prime table with one of the best vantage points in the popular pub.
Gazing out on the tide lapping a retreat towards Morecambe Bay is the perfect advert for the restaurant’s generous offerings of locally caught seafood, though there was plenty on the menu to please those who are not fans of fish.
The Albion recently won a Thwaites award for offering the ‘best customer experience’ and we could see why on the Bank Holiday evening my partner, Ben, and I visited.
The staff were cheerful and attentive as they showed us to our table, despite the restaurant being busy with couples and families. The décor and chintzy curtains look a little old-fashioned inside, but just add to the pub’s quaint charm.
We decided to avoid fish overkill by having it for two courses, instead ordering the sharing plate of mixed olives, sunblush tomatoes and dipping oil as a starter (£6.45).
The plateful of food was almost as pretty as the view, with an artistic balsamic ‘A’ swirled into the little ramekin of oil, gaining top marks for presentation.
We could have wedged a door open with the massive, delicious, gently-warmed slabs of granary bread, and the sweet sunblush tomatoes were the best I’ve ever tasted. I count olives as among my favourite foods, but even I was defeated by the two sizeable potfuls of the black and green beasts.
It was difficult to choose which of the fish options to have as a main course, but I decided to keep it simple – and local – with the plaice topped with Morecambe Bay potted shrimp (£14.50), while Ben went all out with the fisherman’s pie filled with prawns, salmon, smoked and fresh white fish (£12.95).
The plaice was cooked beautifully, melting away in the mouth amidst a delicate mace butter and providing the perfect compliment to the meaty delights of the dollop of potted shrimp.
The accompanying baby potatoes and veg – including some dainty mini parsnips – were handsome, though some of the green vegetables were a little al dente for me.
Ben’s fish pie was a hearty choice, packing in as much fish as possible in a creamy, leek sauce, topped with tasty mash and veg on the side.
We powered through with full bellies to attempt a dessert each (£4.50). My sticky toffee pudding was again splendidly presented, with a swirl of toffee syrup, peak of caramel ice-cream and a sprinkle of biscuits crumbs. Sticky toffee can sometimes be a heavy dessert option but the sponge on this one was wonderfully light, not too sweet and very moreish. Ben made short work of his selection of English Lakes ice-cream, which came in a choice of flavours.
All that was left to do was enjoy the sunset across the estuary with a drink in the pub’s waterfront beer garden. A great evening. Total bill including drinks was £51.75.