Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It Comes So Close.But Just Doesn't Quite Manage to Work like It Really Should Do. Blackfriars. Friars Street, Newcastle. NE1 4XN. Open: 12pm to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10pm. Tel: 0191 261 5945 BY WILL METCALFE

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

It Comes So Close.But Just Doesn't Quite Manage to Work like It Really Should Do. Blackfriars. Friars Street, Newcastle. NE1 4XN. Open: 12pm to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10pm. Tel: 0191 261 5945 BY WILL METCALFE

Article excerpt

Byline: WILL METCALFE

THE ANTICIPATION Expectation does funny things. Whether it's of a pub, restaurant or a relationship - if you set the bar too high, the effects can be terminal.

I learned this the hard way when I turned 30 - after months of panic it arrived and hit me like a hammer blow. But, for better or worse, this life lesson, of the need to accept things as they come, is still something of a work in progress.

One thing I have managed to learn as this landmark year finally disintegrates is to appreciate the finer things, which is how we came to book Blackfriars.

THE RESTAURANT Set in a former friary refectory you expect to be impressed and, for the most part, the setting delivers. The exposed beams and low ceilings avoid creating a sense of doom but do create something bordering on outdated.

Blackfriars is at the higher end of Newcastle's restaurant scene but manages to feel infinitely more formal than House of Tides, Peace and Loaf and even 21, leading to a lack of any real atmosphere. This - coupled with scatter gun service - does take away from the quality of the food.

the food. There is a reason for high expectations and, on the most basic front, Blackfriars delivers.

I went for the wood pigeon with duck's liver, while she went for the hand-dived scallops with pig's cheeks (both PS13). If I have been slow to learn some of life's lessons I have at least picked up my dining companion's love of seafood - so much so that when we carry out the obligatory swap I take the tiniest of bites, fibbing as I say I'm content with my crumb of the delicious creamy, saline scallop.

The pigeon is so finely balanced you'd think it was a dove from heaven rather than a rat with wings. So far, the first round delivers. All is well.

But like all things with potential it wasn't to last. With expectations so far met, we soon realised we had been served by around four staff members in a five-minute window, with few of them seemingly aware of repeating their colleagues. …

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