Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Glamorous Reincarnation of a Newcastle Landmark

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Glamorous Reincarnation of a Newcastle Landmark

Article excerpt

accommodate 10 friendly people. Luckily, there were ve of us, so we could spread out. At 1pm we were the only customers.

e music was playing even louder than outside. Asa was singing Be My Man ("And I can cook you dinner, it won't be so bad"). I hoped the lunch wouldn't be bad either.

It certainly didn't act like a proper restaurant. It was like being back-back stage at a Justin Timberlake concert (more people with earpieces arrived with our drinks, while others were restocking the bonbar). It was as if we'd arrived a few hours before the main event. Which, of course, we had.

As a rule, bars in Newcastle don't tend to bother with real cooking. So we were pleasantly surprised when the food arrived.

ere was a giant plank of cold cuts (PS14 for two), placed on blocks of wood, containing a nice selection of quality Italian cuts, some chicken liver parfait and a sprinkling of Manchego. It was well-sourced and generous, with good cornichons, excellent vegetables pickled in tarragon and some very good homemade brioche. So good, in fact, that we ordered more. It was the bed for the liver parfait, which came in its own little jar. Sadly the parfait was wet, rather than smooth. By contrast, Mrs Diner's smoked mackerel pate starter was perfect.

Meanwhile, I had beans on toast. ese were homemade, slow cooked haricots with pancetta ladled onto soda bread and garnished with pea shoots. It's tough to be picky when someone has gone out of their way to make homemade beans for you, but I found them rather sweet, and the texture of the bread too dry.

Ernest, the cafe in Byker, could show them how to do it properly. One of our friends ordered rather dull chicken skewers with sweet chilli sauce.

Main courses (PS13.50) included perfectly acceptable sea trout, served with a sauce vierge (which correctly included coriander seed, but which incorrectly hadn't been crushed), and an unmemorable Asian chicken salad. Our friend had very fresh seared tuna with a nicely sharp nutty sauce.

I'm not convinced they've got this place right for a lunch venue. Not because of the food - there's clearly a competent team producing food that is well presented and above average for the city - nor the sta, who were well-trained and friendly. …

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