What’s going on, Whitley Bay? Back in the day you were one of the premier places to go for a night out, but over the last few years the boards have gone up on the popular ‘night spots’, leaving the town looking desolate. What seems to be emerging from the ashes is a burgeoning food scene, with new eateries Hinnies and Turknaz opening in seafront locations. My weekends seem to be spent here instead of in the Toon now, if the blog is anything to go by.
Elder and Wolf has also recently opened in Whitley Bay, but it seems only locals who have cottoned on to this newbie. I became aware of their existence much in the same way I did about OMNI: a work colleague who lives in that neck of the woods liked their Facebook page. Some Instagram stalking ensured it became a priority lunch for me & Mr. Canny while our friend was visiting.
Open for a little over a fortnight I believe, there’s still work to do in terms of speed and service, but I’ll get to that in due course. It was very busy but managed to grab a sofa table at the rear of the cafe. The interior is hipster: exposed brickwork, mismatched furniture, twinkly fairy lights, a hand drawn mural and wood burning stove in the back. I personally loved the whole vibe, especially as Nirvana were playing as we entered. We ended up sitting right underneath the speaker though, and asked for the volume to be lowered as we were struggling to hear each other over MGMT, which they promptly did.
We enquired about a menu but were told the waitress was our ‘walking menu’ and would tell us what was on offer. All fine and dandy until we heard completely different options being given to the table beside us. No harm, no foul as we discussed Mr. Canny’s veganism and were told they’d happily knock something up for him. Subsequently a chalk board arrived for other diners to peruse, none of which we’d been offered! This haphazard approach made us feel uneasy about the whole experience, not knowing what to expect when the food actually arrived. I was also disappointed not to be offered the Smokey Halloumi Platter, which sounded delicious. Another minus point – they’d run out of soy milk, meaning Mr. Canny couldn’t have a much-needed latte after walking in the wind and rain. It is BYOB, as an FYI. He was tempted to pop out to get some beer, but it was raining heavily and didn’t need alcohol with his meal that badly.
Niggles aside, once the food finally arrived it was delicious. Freshly prepared by the chef and then wood fired in the kitchen which is located at the front of the cafe, the flatbread pizzas were filling and tasty. Mr. Canny’s was covered with tomato sauce and vegetables, while mine shared the same base but was also topped with cheese. Our friend had their breakfast offering, which was finished with egg, mushrooms and sausage. We thoroughly enjoyed it, even though we had an inordinately long wait for it to arrive. It certainly built up our appetite, especially as we were teased by the platters arriving on other tables. I was envious I’d not been given the same options as I’d have liked to have tried something different. Their plain flatbreads were served with an assortment of dips with meats or cheese, then sprinkled with edible flowers. After visiting Cal’s Own the same week, I feel like I’ve eaten a lot of pizza!
As we were leaving I spoke to Zara, part of the family which run Elder & Wolf. She apologised for the wait for food, explaining that they were short staffed and extremely busy on the day we visited. As we were talking people were told there was an hour wait for a table, thus further proving they were rushed off their feet. I told her we loved the food, but mentioned the issues we’d experienced. It’s a work in progress – while they have the food side sussed it seems service needs a little bit of attention. It is newly opened and teething problems are to be expected. Poor Zara said they’d lost a chef on that day to a particularly bad hangover, although I’d imagine the food they serve will probably take a while to make regardless. A paper menu on the table might not be what they want as they are clearly going for the quirky approach, but staff relaying all the options would ensure consistency for diners. Yes, I’m still peed off I wasn’t offered a platter. I guess it means we’ll just have to return. Oh well, whatever, nevermind. We hope Elder continues to be as popular as we’ve witnessed. The residents of Whitley Bay are certainly benefactors of this foodie boom, lucky devils.
Thanks for reading,