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If Hugo Down to the Coast Today...
Hugos at the Coast (Tynemouth)
Member Name: SWSt
Hugos at the Coast (Tynemouth)
Advantages: Gorgeous food, friendly and efficient staff, pleasant environment
Disadvantages: Decor doesn't look that appealing
On a recent day out, Mrs SWSt and I found ourselves at Tynemouth. Having visited the excellent Blue Reef Aquarium, we were feeling rather peckish and whilst there is a cafe at the aquarium, the offerings were slightly limited and didn't really appeal to us, so we wandered into the main town to find somewhere.
When we visit somewhere new, we try to avoid chain coffee shops and restaurants, preferring to patronise local businesses instead. In Tynemouth, this didn't prove to be as we thought since there was a bit of suitable looking places and those that we did find proudly proclaimed that they served Costa coffee, which ruled them out. Almost by default then, we ended up at the slightly oddly named Hugo's at the Coast.
Finding Hugo's is pretty straightforward - just head for Tynemouth town centre (which is effectively one main street and so quite hard to miss) Walk in the opposite direction to the castle and Hugo's is on your right hand side.
From the outside (and indeed inside), there is nothing particularly special about Hugo's and had there been other options available to us, it's unlikely we would have gone in. It's essentially a standard pub albeit a very spacious one. The décor is slightly shabby, without being grubby and it's clearly a while since Hugo's had a lick of paint or much by way of redecoration. However it could certainly never be described as dirty or run-down, and actually provides a very friendly and comfortable environment in which to eat.
We visited on a week day around 2.30pm, after the traditional lunchtime rush so the place was not exactly busy. I don't know how popular Hugo's is, but finding somewhere to sit and eat should not be a problem at all but the busiest times. Hugo's is actually deceptively big; it reaches back quite a long way from the street and there several different rooms, so that you can choose the area which best suits you. The tables are well distributed of room between them, so you don't feel you are sitting right on top of other diners or drinkers.
Interestingly Hugo's also do takeaway food, and the eat-in or take away menus are actually different, which is something I've not seen before. That means that whilst Hugo's offer quite a wide range of food, your choice might be slightly limited according to whether you want to eat in or out.
Their eat-in menu which we chose from is fairly basic but offers a reasonable amount of variety. It mostly consists of snacks/light lunches rather than full-blown meals, but you can also buy extras, such as chunky chips or beer battered onion rings. A variety of sandwiches are available, all of which sounded very nice. In the end we settled on a ham and Dijon mustard sandwich each, with a bowl of beer battered onion rings to share
When the food arrived, it looked absolutely fantastic. The sandwiches were served in rolls around 6 inches long and were absolutely packed with some very lean and tasty ham, lettuce and thickly sliced tomatoes. There was also a small side salad on the plate. For once the salad was not a token effort to persuade you that you really were eating healthily. Between what was on the roll and what was on the plate, there was actually a surprising amount of it. It was also very tasty. The tomatoes, in particular, tasted as though they might be home grown as they were so full of flavour. Another nice touch was touch was that the mustard was served in a little dish on the side of the plate, so you could decide for yourself how much to put on your roll.
If the rolls were delicious, I would run out of superlatives to describe the onion rings! They were absolutely huge - easily 5 centimetres wide - and there were around a dozen or so in the bowl. Unlike many so-called beer battered onion rings, you could actually taste the beer, without it being too overpowering. It would be worth going along to Hugo's for the onion rings alone.
Although the portions of food were pretty generous, having finished our main course, we decided we'd treat ourselves to a piece of cake each - mainly because they were out on display and looked delicious. There was a selection of about five on the day we went - plenty to let you choose what you fancied, but no so many that you were overwhelmed by the choices available. We plumped for the caramel shortbread and a piece of carrot cake.
As with the main course, the portions were generous without being over-facing. There were initial concerns over the large slice size of caramel shortbread since this can sometime be a bit sweet, but this wasn't the case. The choice of dark chocolate as the topping meant that the slightly bitter taste of the chocolate off-set the sweeter caramel filling perfectly. The shortbread base was fantastic - slightly crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth. I could have eaten that on its own! The carrot cake was similarly delicious and had a nice thick covering of icing on top which, again, was tasty without being too sweet.
As if we hadn't had enough by this point (we were on holiday!), we decided to finish this off with two coffees - espressos which were delivered quickly to the table and were suitably bitter and gave us the caffeine boost we needed for the slow journey back home through the Tyne Tunnel!
Prices at Hugo's are absolutely crazy. The cost of all this food which also included two lime and lemons was just under £18. For the amount of food we got and the quality of it, this was ridiculous. We actually thought they had forgotten to charge us for something, but when we looked at the receipt, all the items we had ordered were present and correct. There are plenty of other places where you could have expected to pay at least £10 on top of that for food of inferior quality.
A quick mention should also go to the staff who were uniformly friendly and helpful. Orders were taken efficiently and food and drinks were served very quickly. Obviously, we went at a quieter period of the day which helped, but even so, the efficiency of the staff can't be faulted. Dirty dishes, plates and glasses were cleared away quickly and there was an air of efficiency and friendliness from everyone we encountered.
I have to confess that when we walked into Hugo's I expected to receive something that was at best adequate. All my expectations were blown out of the water. Fantastic food at reasonable cost, friendly service and a pleasant eating environment means that I'm already trying to think of a reason why we need to go back to Tynemouth, just so I can visit Hugo's again.
Hugo's at the Coast.
29 Front Street.
Tel: 0191 257 8956
© Copyright SWSt 2011
Summary: If Hugo to Tynemouth, Hugo to Hugo's
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