WATCHING Happy Days as kids, my brother and I always longed to be to visit Arnold’s, the diner favoured by Richie, Potsy, Ralph and The Fonz.

We became big fans of McDonald’s in the 80s and spent much of our pocket money on Big Macs and thick shakes, but a Geordie teenager asking if you want chips with ‘ya borger’ tarnishes the authenticity somewhat.

Recently there has been a resurgence in the kitschy 50’s American ice parlour with an Ed’s opening at the Metrocentre a couple of years ago.

And the regenerated seafront at Seaham is also making waves, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Lickety Split has reputation that goes beyond County Durham and I know from talking to people on Tyneside they will gladly schlep down the A19 for an indulgent treat on a summer day.

Stepping inside it is easy to see why.

Everything about the decor is a nod to that saccharin sweet slice of Americana, with a 50s jukebox, black and white tiles, high school pennants and a life size model of Elvis with his guitar.

The savoury food menu is limited but tempting toasties, sandwiches, paninis and hot dogs mean there is enough to choose from.

My brother, Mark, and I both went for the Wide Boy Hot Dawg, proudly described as the ‘fattest ten inch hot dog sausage’. (£8.95)

Made from top quality German Brockwurst, is comes in a soft, fresh white bun and the sausage hung lazily out of the bread.

Toppings (£2.50) include spicy minced beef, nacho cheese sauce, garlic mayo and Lickety Split sauce, which is a mixture of ketchup, barbecue and mustard.

Personally, although I had the chilli, I would just go for the plain dog as the sauce is very messy and masks the flavour of what are truly magnificent hot dogs.

They are served with incredible home chips and a mixed salad on the side.

I would have thought skinny fries were more authentic, but the chunky chips were great nonetheless.

To drink we both had premium milk shakes made with four scoops of ice cream; mine with raspberry and Mark’s with chocolate.

They came in tall glasses with a stainless steel mixing jug with more in to top them up.

Now you cannot go to an ice cream parlour without trying the ice cream, and it was the desserts that my two children, aged three and four had been so patiently looking forward to.

Impressive looking sundaes on the company website had driven them almost delirious with desire and savoury first rule had almost led to a meltdown from the youngest.

We managed to get through to dessert with only a spilt slush, which was kindly replaced free of charge by staff, and with some genuine excitement, we approached the ice cream counter.

Foolishly thinking five scoops between and adult and child would not be far too much we went about selecting flavours to fill two speciality sundaes: the Birthday bonanza and the Lipstick on your Collar.

Here my memory is a little hazy but I think our choices included cinder toffee, pistachio, rum and raisin, pineapple, banana, and chocolate with toppings like sprinkles and Smarties.

I was asked if I would like cream with them and in a moment of sheer piggery, expecting a tasteful squirt on the side, said: ‘yes’.

But rather than being presented with large wide attractive plates where different flours could be sampled and swapped, we were presented with gigantic brandy glass shaped dishes around the size of goldfish bowls.

They were topped with cream so much I literally had to dig my down to find the elusive gelato.

Sadly, the kids lost interest in the hunt for the ice cream and entertained themselves with the sparkly tassles stuck in the top, leaving Mark and I battle, unsuccessfully, through a mountain of unidentifiable dessert.

At around this time a drill started up, drowning out the golden age of rock’n’roll from the speakers, leaving the kids with their hands over their ears. Not great to be doing refurbishments when customers are enjoying the genuinely terrific atmosphere that has been created here.

I would put it down to a bit of bad luck on our part and we will be far wiser next time we visit and stick to individual portions for our sweet.

Sundae, Monday, Happy Days...


Lickety Split
13 North Terrace, Seaham, County Durham, SR7 7EU
Tel: 0191-581-0719

Ratings: Food: 8/10, Value: 8/10, Service: 9/10, Surroundings: 9/10

Open: Monday-Thursday: 10am-6pm, Friday: 10am–5pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10am-7pm