THE Crow family of Northallerton really deserve a medal for services to the hospitality industry in the county town.

While others try manfully and sadly fail, the Crows just keep on coming.

In 2019 their portfolio of leisure assets (as commercial estate agents like to put it) has expanded yet again.

To the Golden Lion (dependable, perhaps a little unexciting, but wouldn’t we miss if it wasn’t there?), the Club Amadeus nightclub and Troubadour music venue we can add now Katch.

Katch has been up and running a few months now in what was the Black Bull pub. It is the most central of positions on the High Street, bang opposite Barkers and just a few doors down from the Golden Lion.

If you haven’t guessed it Katch is a fish restaurant, but it is also still a pub, a hotel, and a takeaway (to the rear).

The refurbishment of what was a very tired Black Bull has been a typically comprehensive no-expense-spared job. The front of the building still looks like a pub where drinkers are welcome but as you go further back into the cavernous interior the look becomes more restaurant-y.

But diners can eat wherever they choose and on a quiet Monday we opted for the bar and an inviting window seat with great views of the High Street, albeit somewhat obscured by various advertising flyers.

Now marketing is definitely the thing in Katch. As well as those poster-festooned bay windows there’s a big TV screen promoting the size of their standard fish and chips – “25% bigger than our local competitors” – and running some pretty ropey fish-themed jokes. For example: “What do sharks order at MacDonalds….? A quarter flounder with cheese!” There are gems more like that.

If you are casual customer you should by now have gathered that this place is all about fish. So it should be pretty bloody amazing, shouldn’t it?

And I’m very pleased to say it is – 100 per cent. Certainly comparable with anything they can do in Whitby (including the over-rated Magpie), that place at the foot of the pier in Saltburn and the White Horse Café in Northallerton which I think is what Katch mean in their reference to their “local competitor”.

The available choice is much more than cod or haddock with chips and you can choose how your choice is prepared. You don’t have to have everything deep-fried. Daily specials include lobster Thermidor and a seafood platter including oysters. And there’s also a range of steaks, salads, some pasta dishes and pies for those who don’t like fish.

We kicked off with a shared starter of king prawns and scallops (£6.50) served with black pudding, some crispy bacon and a pea puree. The key test of the kitchen here was not to overcook the two principal elements and this it passed with flying colours. In fact, Sylvia thought the scallops a tad undercooked but she’s a bit of a wimp about squidgy seafood. I thought it was spot on so had three scallops and she snaffled the properly-regal prawns.

My main course haddock and chips (£9.50) was as good as anything I’ve ever had at the seaside and here one has to make some allowances that fish and chips ALWAYS taste better with the whiff of ozone in the nostrils.

Firm-flaked, shiny, almost transluscent white flesh in a light, crisp batter with no sign of sogginess anywhere, I could almost hear the seagulls. The twice-cooked chips were just as good.

Sylvia’s plain grilled plaice (also £9.50) evoked childhood memories of when eating a fillet of plaice (usually breadcrumbed with garden peas, tinned potatoes and a slice of lemon) in a restaurant was the very height of sophistication.

Here it was served unadorned apart from a drenching of caper butter, some dressed salad leaves and crushed new potatoes which were ideal for soaking up the buttery-ness of the sauce. Again the cooking of this freshest of fish could not be faulted.

Service from the very happy chappy Ryan behind the bar – and everywhere else – was very enthusiastic.

The bill was £33.65 and that included a half pint of Theakstons Best (there were two other hand-pulled beers) and a soft drink.

Katch could catch on. Geddit...?


Katch, 101 High Street, Northallerton, DL7 8PP

Tel: 01609 771960 facebook: @katchnorthallerton

Serving food: noon-2.30pm and 5-9pm seven days

Access no problem. Not much choice for veggies or vegans. Some gluten free options.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 10, Service 8, Surroundings 8, Value 9 (TV screen 2)