Where Standards and Pastry Defy Gravity; TABLE FOR 2 Pan Haggerty, 21 Queen Street, Newcastle Dining

The Journal (Newcastle, England), January 30, 2009 | Go to article overview

Where Standards and Pastry Defy Gravity; TABLE FOR 2 Pan Haggerty, 21 Queen Street, Newcastle Dining


Byline: GEOFF LAWS

ONE of the reasons to eat at a restaurant is when we're looking for something we couldn't cook at home.

Sometimes that's most evident in the presentation, food with all the frills. Cascades of dressed salad, dainty trails of sauce and spirals of spun sugar come to mind.

They rarely happen in our house because whenever I try to reproduce the finer points of presentation, they don't exactly enhance the dish. The cascades become a mound, the dainty trail is more of a splodge and I don't even attempt the spun sugar.

Third degree burns followed by the Minor Injuries Unit lie thataway.

What's great is when you find a restaurant that not only serves sound food but also has a masterly grip on presentation and gets the balance right.

Pan Haggerty, off Newcastle Quayside, is one such. At 21 Queen Street - an address which for many years has been associated with fine food - from the very beginning to the moment we left, this was an excellent experience.

My first dilemma was which simply described dish to choose. They all sounded good and, as per usual, my companion helped by declaring her choices, so reducing the number by two.

Having followed in her wake, I sat back and enjoyed my first glass of Malbec, served at the perfect temperature. Everything boded well and I was beginning to feel at one with life.

Starters arrived and things got even better. The classic Northumbrian dish, pan haggerty, served with a perfectly poached duck egg, put a smile on my companion's face.

A savoury sandwich of sliced potatoes, onions and herbs topped with grilled cheese carried the globe white egg on top ready to spill yolk on demand and bathe the pan haggerty with eggy goodness. Frills of dressed rocket for contrasting colour were the finishing touch.

My starter of roast wood pigeon with celeriac, apple and caramelised beetroot salad matched it taste for taste. The cool, shredded celeriac, dotted with white mustard seed, provided a balanced base to the earthy, warm beetroot and pink-soft pigeon on top.

At this point I was full of well-placed hope that main courses would continue to carry the flag of honest-to-goodness food, and they did.

My deliciously slow-cooked overnight braised shoulder of beef was feather light and rippled away to the touch, yet held all the natural meaty juices anyone could hope for.

This very generous serving came with foamy mash and roasted scallions topped off with grilled lardons. This meatfest dish was everything it should be and more.

Across the table the steak and kidney pudding was managing to defeat my companion. I'd have liked to help out but I was already full.

The dome of suet pastry encased succulent braised steak and pungent, tight-grained kidney in a luscious gravy that spilled from the crust. …

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