As part of the Sir John Fitzgerald Group, situated in the vicinity of Whitley Bay’s coastline and St Mary’s Lighthouse, Briar Dene is a modern, spacious detached bar and restaurant that incorporates the essence of beach life to its visitors. According to their website, Briar Dene states
‘What could be better than a long walk across a windswept beach? Settling down afterwards in the recently-refurbished Briar Dene is the perfect reward. Enjoy a relaxing coffee in our bar area or step into our restaurant for table service and a menu which offers the freshest local seafood and twists on modern British classics. We’ve also got an inviting terrace for dining outside on those elusive sunny summer days and a Take Away counter for those wishing to experience our delicious fish and chips on the beach or at home.
With all that in mind, we had to establish for ourselves what Briar Dene could offer.
On probably what was the wettest Friday evening of the year, we were hoping the experience would be worth it…
Impossible to miss and lit up in all its glory, Briar Dene is a lovely sight by night, even in the pouring rain. Inside the huge room, the subtle colours are brought to life by the ensemble of decorations of the sea… For example, it’s not every day you get to sit below a giant whale hanging from the ceiling. It was a quirky yet relaxed environment.
Megan, our waitress throughout the duration of our stay, handed us their menu. The menu was short, simple and sufficient with nine starters and twelve mains served from 12 until 9. When I told her I was coeliac, she returned with the ‘Food Allergen Information for Customers’ guidebook which was easy to follow and helped me decide on what to have. Therefore to start, I decided on the Tandoori Crab Cakes with Coriander Yoghurt and Charred Lime and my colleague went for the House Smoked Salmon, Spring Onion and Chive Potato Pancake, Poched Egg and an Avocado Hollandaise Sauce. Thankfully our food arrived in no time at all. Three stacked delicate fishcakes, resting on a salad garnish alongside the fresh yoghurt… I couldn’t wait to tuck in. The spiced fishcakes were amazing and the yoghurt complemented them well although I would’ve liked the yoghurt to have been a little thicker. My colleague’s plate was huge. Chunks of salmon merged between a hefty poached egg and a crispy pancake – it was a starter for champions. Briar Dene had got us in the mood for food. Rain? What rain?
Now that we were comfy and felt more at home in our surroundings, we were ready for our mains. We decided on Roast Chicken Breast, Roasted Roots, Creamed Onions, Fondant Potato, Confit Garlic and Parsnip Crisps and The Blagdon Estate Award-Winning Steak Burger, Mature Cheddar, Pickles, Crispy Gem Lettuce, Tomato, Thousand Island Dressing, Crispy Onion Rings and Skinny Fries. Excellent presentation should come as a given in today’s world but I have to congratulate the chef on how beautifully they organised my chicken dish – it was first-class. Everything about the dish was enticing and it tasted as good as it looked. The chicken fell off the bone as it was exceptionally tender. The concoction of mixed roots and crisps were a massive delight. My colleague obviously hadn’t realised he had chosen two of the biggest portion sized options on the menu until his burger came – it was so enormous it was as if it was henched. Topped with three crispy rings and plenty of fries it was a mammoth main course. Not only was it tantalising on the eye but it was just as much on the palate. My colleague devoured as much as his stomach could handle but couldn’t manage it all. I mean I challenge anyone to do so. Both fabulous main courses.
Although we were both full to the brim, I had to have dessert. So, from a selection of six desserts, I went with what I was hoping to be a cleansing trio of Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry Ice Cream from the Handmade Ice Cream Company. How does the saying go? ‘There’s always room for ice cream.’ There was room; I’d be lying if I said I left any. Sweet, smooth and refreshing; it was even more cleansing than I had anticipated.
Overall, Briar Dene is a pleasing restaurant and bar set in a perfect location. It offers hearty food that is served without any hesitation. Not just a go to on a hot summer’s day but even on a wet, November evening. So give Briar Dene a visit, I can safely say it will certainly be worth the trip.