“ Anick, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 4LN. Tel: 01434 602814 „
The Rat Inn was built around 1750 and can be found in the scenic hamlet of Anick, which is approximately 1 mile from the historic market town of Hexham, here in Northumberland.
It is easily reached from the A69 which runs from Newcastle to Carlisle, and I have enjoyed a few meals there since my partner introduced me to it a few years ago.
After leaving the A69 you drive up a hill to reach The Rat Inn, and because of its location, there are stunning views over Hexham and the Tyne Valley. There is a car park and roadside parking available.
A Little History
Just how the Rat Inn came by what is probably one of the oddest names for an Inn in Britain remains shrouded in mystery. The locals have some interesting theories, from it once being a regular meeting place for all the local rat catchers, to a theory that the largest rat ever seen was caught here.
Perhaps the most intriguing tale tells of the then ale keeper who gave information to the crown during the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 45 and thus became known as "the Rat". Historically, Northumberland had a strong network of Jacobite sympathisers who met under cover of games of bowls and horse races at local pubs and alehouses. Government spies were posted across the county to gather information. Who knows, perhaps the Rat Inn was host to some of these meetings!
Whatever it's past, it has been at the very heart of life in Anick as a welcoming local village tavern for over 200 years and has became very popular in Northumberland, with visitors travelling often a fair distance to eat and drink there.
The Rat Inn
From the outside, I would describe The Rat Inn as having a country pub look. There is a lovely beer garden outside with amazing views, and a cosy roaring fire inside, where the country feel of the pub continues with its stone floors, wooden beams and furniture. In the bar area, pots hang from the ceiling and plates sit along the high shelf. It is small, welcoming and cosy, especially in the colder months when the fire is blazing away in the black cast iron range.
There are plenty of tables in the dining area, which also includes a small conservatory which can be booked for private parties, or if you prefer, you can eat in the cosy bar area.
The restaurant seems to have got more popular over the last couple of years following the arrival of new owners, who had previously owned a very successful restaurant in Hexham.
The owners have a commitment to use as many locally sourced ingredients as possible and create dishes to capture both regional and classic British cooking that are in line with the seasons. As well as the menu which offers meals and snacks, there are daily specials written on blackboards.
I have not pre-booked a table on our visits here, but I would advise you do if you fancy visiting here for Sunday lunch, as it gets very busy!
On my recent visit, the menu had a very 'local' flavour to it, with main courses such as Braised beef in Allendale bitter , Tom Stephensons Northumbrian Sausage with bubble and squeak cake, (which I enjoyed very much !) or Roast Northumbrian rib of beef. Other alternatives included Braised Pork with Cider and Leeks, Pan fried Cod, or Bruschetta with balsamic roasted beetroot to name but a few.
The prices of the main courses average between £8 - £11, and the portions are generous, well-presented and taste delicious.
My Northumbrian Sausage with bubble and squeak cake was delicious and came served with onion gravy, costing £8.95. My partner opted for the Pan Fried Cod on our recent visit, and this came with leek mash, smoked bacon and parsley sauce for £11.50. It looked lovely, and my partner thoroughly enjoyed it as it was something a little different to the usual chips and peas you tend to get with Cod in restaurants.
We didn't bother with starters on our last visit but have enjoyed them on previous visits. I can recommend the Cumbrian air dried ham with pickles which is £4.95. Other starters include Rillette of Craster kipper, horseradish and wholemeal toast which is also £4.95, and Cream of celeriac and apple soup for £3.50.
As you can see, the dishes served at The Rat Inn offer something a little different.
I have never had a dessert at The Rat Inn, despite being very tempted by the white chocolate and coconut bread and butter pudding! We have always been too full, but there are some very tempting desserts on offer from Northumbrian Ice Cream to Sticky Toffee Pudding. All are priced at £3.95 - £4.50.
The Sunday lunch menu consists of a choice of three different roasts and also a vegetarian option priced at £7.95. As I said before, it gets very busy on a Sunday so I would say it is essential to book a table or you may be disappointed.
The Rat Inn is also just a nice little cosy pub to drop in for a drink. They have a range of ales available which are rotated regularly, as well as quite a large wine menu. There is a lovely atmosphere in The Rat Inn which makes it an ideal place just to drop in for a drink.
Bar snacks are also served, ranging from a mug of soup to sandwiches, homemade scotch egg, or even hot pork crackling with black pudding and apple sauce. They are all priced from £1.95 - £3.95 and make an ideal lunch option if you don't fancy a main meal.
Tues-Sat between 12-2pm and 6-9pm
Sunday lunch 12-3pm
Bar open every day:
Mon-fri 12-3pm and 6pm-11pm
Sat/Sun bar open all day-12-11pm
No food served Mondays except for Bank Holidays when food is served from 12 midday- 7pm
You don't just have to take my word for it how nice the food served here is, as The Rat Inn is featured in the Good Pub Guide 2008, Good Beer Guide 2008 and also the Michelin Guide to eating out in Pubs 2009.
I have always received a friendly and warm welcome from the owners Phil and Karen, since they took over The Rat Inn. They always seem to go out of their way to greet their customers, who must have got quite a shock one day last year when Rowan Atkinson walked through the door! He had booked the dining room for a family meal and his McLaren F1 car in the car park caused quite a stir!
Overall this is a lovely pub, which serves delicious food, and also offers something a little different to the pub grub you usually find, which in my opinion, makes it worth a visit for that reason alone.
Since the new owners took over, the pub has gone from strength to strength, and still doing well despite the credit crunch. And as it is just 20 mins drive along the A69 from Newcastle, it is one of my favourite places to visit for a meal.
I can highly recommend it!
The Rat Inn
Tel. 01434 602814