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Charles Evans review: The Three Wheat Heads, Thropton

Our dining out artist Charles Evans gives his view - in words and pictures - of an inn with a view in rural Northumberland

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Charles Evans' painting of the view from The Three Wheatheads, Thropton

The Three Wheat Heads at Thropton has the kind of views from its restaurant that any other establishment would kill for.

Looking out over the rolling hills, it is certainly any painter’s idea of paradise, but tonight I have my foodie hat on! And an empty belly, after being out in the fresh air all day with mucky water dribbling down my arms. I was painting, just in case you thought this was some kind of fetish!

The pub is beautifully situated in the middle of the most gorgeous little village of Thropton and is full of character and warmth, and very welcoming. It has a homely feel, actually.

In the dining room there is a huge conservatory window which opens up onto some of the most breathtaking views on offer in our fabulous county of Northumberland.

The menu is fairly comprehensive with a very tempting specials board to back it up.

Charles Evans' starter of scallops from The Three Wheatheads, Thropton
Charles Evans' starter of scallops from The Three Wheatheads, Thropton
 

For my starter I ordered the scallops served in half shell, with a garlic and herb butter topped with crab and nut crust, priced at £6.50. For my main course I went for pan fried butterfly chicken in a honey and mustard sauce, at £9.95. It all sounded delicious!

The chosen libation for the evening was a Merlot – Jack Rabbit to be precise. This was nice and fruity and didn’t taste in the least bit like rabbits.

Well, what a gobsmacking shell-full that was! Three very succulent scallops cooked to perfection. I quite often shy away from these on a menu because too often little round bullets are served, having been cooked for too long.

Chicken with a rich sauce of honey and mustard at The Three Wheatheads, Thropton
Chicken with a rich sauce of honey and mustard at The Three Wheatheads, Thropton

These were soft and full of flavour having soaked up the yummy garlic butter, which wasn’t so strong as to kill the flavour. There was just the right amount of topping which had a surprisingly delicate crab taste, the perfect accompaniment to the shellfish. It was worth coming just for the starter. I should have had a large one for the main course!

I have to admit that when my main course did arrive it didn’t look as seductive as the starter, but looks can be deceiving. Believe me; I’ve been divorced twice.

The chicken was cooked just right, tender, nice and juicy and with a very rich sauce of honey and mustard, which was sweet with a bit of a kick. The accompanying vegetables were undoubtedly fresh but a little over-cooked to my liking. I’m not extreme with al dente, but I do like a little bit of bite.

I did enjoy my main course and I ate it all but I felt it lacked the imagination that clearly went into the starter.

I was very full at this stage but just for you I ordered a pudding. Creme brûlée!

Creme brûlée from The Three Wheatheads, Thropton

What a lovely presentation. The brûlée was how it should be, creamy, not too sweet and very rich with a smashing crunchy sugar topping, browned and not burned.

Apparently the chef had been experimenting that day and had given everyone a side pudding. This was a hot fruit compote done in baked Alaska style with a browned topping of meringue. Divine! I hadn’t seen an espresso machine at this stage, so I was getting a little bit panicky. I needn’t have worried – the treble was soon on its way.

What a lovely night that was – cracking smiley service, good food, heart-flutteringly strong coffee. What more could you ask for?

I shall wobble off across the moors now on a lovely warm summer’s evening. I’m in danger of coming over all poetic.

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