Charles Gives the iPad a Miss; Officially It Was Ye Olde Cross but Alnwick Folk Always Called the Narrowgate Pub the Dirty Bottles. Now It Is Officially the Dirty Bottles and Artist CHARLES EVANS Popped in for a Meal

The Journal (Newcastle, England), July 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Charles Gives the iPad a Miss; Officially It Was Ye Olde Cross but Alnwick Folk Always Called the Narrowgate Pub the Dirty Bottles. Now It Is Officially the Dirty Bottles and Artist CHARLES EVANS Popped in for a Meal


Byline: CHARLES EVANS

The Dirty Bottles in Alnwick is under new management and what a transformation!

The place had been open for 10 days when I visited and it's super-trendy - and a little confusing for an old country hick like me.

There's an iPad on each table so you can cut out the middle man and order online, and also order your drinks here and pull your own pint at the table. My word! You can, of course, do as I did and use the extremely pleasant dining room staff in the old-fashioned way!

The menus, however, are fairly straightforward, with a small but nice choice of starters. The main course selections are laid out in different sections: burgers - buildyour-own - grills and smokehouse specials, with an ample choice for vegetarians.

For my starter I ordered the homemade Scotch egg with black pudding and spicy ketchup, priced at PS5.95, and for my main course the smokehouse three meats of pulled pork, smoked sausage and brisket.

These come with a choice of side orders so I went for the corn on the cob, coleslaw and pit beans. All priced at PS12. That should be enough for now!

It has to be said, there's an excellent choice of music in this place and a very buzzy atmosphere. The inside of the restaurant is all barrels, exposed brick, stone and walls that look as if they're made of old packing crates and railway sleepers. Very well done.

The starter was lovely - a very smooth and well-seasoned black pudding surrounded by big crunchy breadcrumbs sitting on top of a leaf salad which had the merest hint of dressing.

The spicy ketchup was certainly that. Gosh!

All in all, a very nice starter. If I were to make one criticism, it would be that the egg inside was a bit of on the hard and rubbery side, but that was the smallest bit of it anyway.

As you walk into this place you're greeted by a stainless steel wall with beer pumps sticking out of it. Again, serve yourself. Where have I been all these years? When the main course arrived I'd by now rotated the iPad on its stand.

Thankfully you can do that, because you just can't help looking at it flicking its messages backwards and forwards.

I was defeated by meat! The main course was spicy, sweet and sticky, all of my own choice. The pulled pork and brisket - very well cooked, tender and full of flavour - was only bettered by the spicy sausage, which was a banger to behold.

Pit beans: I've never had them before, but they were a meal in themselves, bound with a cracking smooth and spicy sauce with slices of bacon inside. Lovely but far too much. As my mother says, my eyes were bigger than my belly!

Yes, they do treble espresso - soon on its way.

There is a very interesting story as to how this place came by its name and I'm not going to tell you. That would be a bit like telling you what happens at the end of the film, but there are curses involved. Mmm!

I've had a lovely evening, a different evening, in surroundings that would be difficult to replicate. Well worth a visit.

THE PAINTING I think this street in Alnwick sums up the town - old, quaint and picturesque.

I put more detail than usual in the initial sketch because the subject matter demands it. …

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Charles Gives the iPad a Miss; Officially It Was Ye Olde Cross but Alnwick Folk Always Called the Narrowgate Pub the Dirty Bottles. Now It Is Officially the Dirty Bottles and Artist CHARLES EVANS Popped in for a Meal
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