I’m yet to see the episode of Hairy Bikers where Si and Dave proclaim the fish and chips of The Fish Shack in Amble to be the best in the UK, but I imagine they do it in the gentle, yet enthusiastic way that we have become accustomed to watching. I like The Hairy Bikers, though I’m sure that goes against everything a slightly sarky, wannabe food writer should do. I should be still be attaching myself to the pyre that Bourdain built, or watching niche food adventures in parts of the world rarely visited. The Hairy Bikers are unapologetically Northern. Earnest and hardworking, they’d likely give you the last chip out of the bag and a hug to accompany it. In a country obsessed with what London is doing they serve as a reminder that it is okay to smile at strangers and laugh in the face of mishaps. They are TV gold. If they say someone where is the best fish and chips I’m going to make a beeline to eat them.
I don’t actually watch them very often. Hardly at all, if I’m being honest. I should probably have watched them prior to writing this, maybe even before I ate there, given we singled it out for a visit because of them whilst on a short trip to Northumberland. We go to Amble, a functional part of an often barren coastline, more fisherman’s dock than tourist attraction, with roads of terraced housing that bend and dips towards the harbour. It is here you’ll find the shack, and it is a shack, laboured wonkily into position with doors that are hidden in unlikely spots, and windows that chatter in the wind. It is cosy, welcoming space which looks straight onto the boats that bring in the days catch. They have a good wine list, local beers and spirits, and a menu that talks of a chef in the kitchen as opposed to a fryer. 
So, now, the big question you’re all waiting for. I’ll try to answer it as straight as possible, avoiding the usual blogger response of sitting on the fence in case it affects a future freebie or maybe leads to work in the future. Should Johnson and Sunak resign? Yes, they should, and throw the useless fucktards in the North Sea whilst you’re at it. Oh, the other question. No, they are not the best fish and chips in the UK. I’d even argue that they aren’t the best on this stretch of coastline (I have a soft spot for Pinnacles in Seahouses, and by ‘soft spot’ I mean very large gut). It is, however, very good. The fish is excellent quality; cod the length of a forearm, not a whiff of staleness, pearlescent, milky white flesh, with a beer batter that entombs the fish with a brittle exterior rather than hugs it to death. The chips, twice fried and skin on, which would be my cooking suggestion for the Prime Minister. Good chips, really good chips, with mushy peas the ‘traditional’ way which I can only assume means with less salt than required and acquiring the texture of building mortar. We also try the dressed crab from North Shields and excellent it is too. When crab is this good it requires minimal intervention. It certainly doesn’t need the Caesar salad that jars and dominates. The fish and chips weigh in at £15, the crab at £18.50. It’s excellent value.

Skipping dessert, we plod down the coast to Whitley Bay to Di Meo’s, a little ice cream shop I know a few things about. I first found out about Di Meo’s last year when judging at the Great Taste Awards. We didn’t know it was them at the time, but as we ate the Sicilian pistachio ice cream the room fell silent. It left with three stars, and if memory serves me right, two other flavours picked up two stars. When the guide came out, I checked it immediately, following it up with some research into the family who make ice cream from a singular shop in the North East and don’t distribute it elsewhere. At the time five hours looked too long a drive, but here just half an hour away, it was much more realistic. We sat outside Spanish City, a huge white leisure facility which looks like a knock-off Taj Mahal, the wind biting against our fingers as we ploughed through six of the flavours between us. The most perfect ice cream, and should you ever find yourself there, the cherry is even better than the pistachio. They have a picture of Si and Dave in there; apparently they’ve been on The Hairy Bikers with universal praise. They clearly know their stuff, those guys. Well, almost all of the time. 
Fish Shack 7/10
Di Meo’s 10/10