Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Meal Was a Work of Art

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Meal Was a Work of Art

Article excerpt

Byline: By Geoff Laws

Art is a tricky subject. In our house it sits right alongside religion, politics and the cat as a taboo subject, so I was in a quandary when I found myself surrounded by monumental canvases in the Biscuit Factory's Black Door brasserie in Newcastle.

They were impossible to ignore, but we were aware if we started down that route we would be forever lost in debate and the food would take second place, which would never do.

Starters of crab, fennel and orange salad and chargrilled tuna, Nicoise salad and tapenade butter, delivered by Lautrec-style waiters, took centre stage.

The shredded crabmeat formed a pale pink mound dotted with torn leaves. Sweet bursts of orange and a subtle, aniseedy zip of fennel added body to the demure crab. This sophisticated dish suggested the chef was a master.

The tuna dish added weight to this view. Salt-crusted and seared just enough to leave a pink middle layer, the fish was in peak condition. Warm olives, potatoes, semi-soft hens' eggs, and anchovies for an extra salty zap, plus well-dressed salad leaves made this a well-rounded dish.

A glow of satisfaction spread as we contemplated the joys to follow. I blame the combination of good food and a glass of wine for what happened next.

I casually observed that the canvas depicting cormorants in various poses was interesting. This careless remark opened the floodgates and it would have taken a master mariner to navigate the tidal bore that swept through the conversation.

"Would I have it in my living room?"

For her this is the acid test. I sidestepped the obvious one about the walls not being big enough and away we went down that long road of what is art.

Main courses came as a blessed break. My liver and onions with black figs and rosemary polenta was excellent. The velvety liver, sweet figs, savoury onions and herby polenta formed an inspired combination, matched every step of the way by the art critic's crisp confit of duck, green beans, sautA potatoes and shallots. …

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