I HAVE fond memories of being packed into the family’s Ford Cortina estate on warm summer evenings for visits to this pub with my folks as a youngster.

Dad would have a pint of lager, mam a lime and lemonade and my brother and I would have beef crisps and Coke in glass bottles. The grown-ups would sit outside at the picnic tables and the older kids would climb trees, while younger ones played on the slide.

It is perhaps 25 years since I was last there with my dad so a return trip on hearing of its refurbishment was long overdue.

Aside from my own memories, its history is interesting enough as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, stayed here during visits to the region. It is even thought some of the famous children’s book may have been penned here.

Another titbit of trivia is Catherine Cookson’s mother, Kate Fawcett, served ale as a barmaid.

It lies just over the County Durham border, in the borough of Gateshead, between Ouston and Lamesley.

The old stone building is just as attractive as I remember, brought into the 21st Century with spacious decking areas outside for those warm summer evenings. Long gone are the A-frame tables of my youth, and so too the kids’ play area.

Inside has been opened up with a huge dining area sectioned into small and cosy nooks and crannies to give diners a little privacy. The decor is sleek and stylish with a thinly striped carpet, light grey wood panelling and bare timbers, creating a very pleasing and all-too-essential ‘ambience’.

The wide-ranging and impressive menu offers classic British dishes with something for everyone, whether it is a quick bite, gentle graze, lazy lunch or full-on sitting.

To start, we shared a butchers block platter (£10.99) and Caprese avocado salad (£4.49). The ‘block’ had a selection of meat treats including rare beef and onion gravy with Yorkshire pudding, farmhouse paté, black pepper Yorkshire sausages and spiced breaded chicken. It was served with toasted bloomer, garlic ciabatta and pots of ale chutney and horseradish mayonnaise - a great way to get the taste buds going while trying lots of things at once.

The salad made a great side dish, generous in size with lots of lovely pieces of fresh avocado and mozzarella cheese, basil and cherry tomatoes. For one, this would have easily served as a full meal.

For the main, I chose hand-battered Atlantic cod and chips, with tartar sauce and garden peas. Everything so far, including the service from our friendly and helpful waitress, had been faultless, but here the needle metaphorically scratches across the vinyl.

I have come to expect chips to be chunky, soft, and homemade that you just cannot help going back to and will usually save other, lesser, components of any meal. Sadly this was not the case. They seemed to be of the oven baked variety and did not even have the temerity to be crinkle cut: unforgivable in my book. The fish, it must be said, was a little thin and far too greasy, while the peas were like ball bearings and too dry.

My dad fared a bit better with his pudding. He said it was tasty enough but a bit too crusty and more pie than savoury pudding, which should have a spongy texture. He had no complaints about the mash and mushy pea accompaniments.

To round off we shared three scoops of ice cream, vanilla, strawberry and cookie dough (£3.59) and a slab of millionaire’s cheesecake (£4.99). The ice cream was fine and the creamy vanilla cheesecake with chunky cookie dough pieces, topped with caramel and chocolate fudge sauce was something of an indulgent triumph.

Service could not have been better and the surroundings are such that you could easily spend a happy evening with friends here. Despite my disappointment with the fish and chips there were too many good points that would prevent me from going back again. I won’t wait for another quarter of a century though.

The Ravensworth Arms, Greenford Lane, Lamesley, Gateshead, NE11 0ER  

TEL: 0191-487-6023 Opening Times: Mon-Sat: 11am 10pm; Sunday: 11am-9.30pm

Ratings (out of 10) Food: 7 Value: 8 Surroundings: 9 Service: 9