20 November 2019

Bundobust (Leeds)

Food ✪✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

6 Mill Hill 
Leeds 
LS1 5DQ 

0113 243 1248 
bundobust.com/leeds 

Accessibility? No 
Gluten free? Yes 

Much as the nastiest jokes tend necessarily to contain a grain of truth, so some of the grimmest ideas have just a whiff of genius. Take, for example, the peculiarly Anglo-Saxon cultural practice of getting severely pissed-up on poor quality lager before laying siege to a phall in the local curry house. I can scarcely imagine a more despondent or dyspeptic way to spend an evening. 

And yet, there’s no getting away from the fact that, occasionally, spicy food and beer can improve each other in a rare, alchemical fashion. When both are of the proper type and quality, magic can occur. Which takes us to Leeds, and to Bundobust, where the beer is craft and the food is street. Yeah, I know. Roll your eyes all you like, though, because they've got it absolutely nailed.

The Muddler

Food ✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

69 Grey Street 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
NE1 6EF 

0191 222 0125 
themuddlernewcastle.co.uk 

Accessibility? No 
Gluten free? Yes 

Danieli Holdings is, or are, in their own words, “one of the fastest growing multi-faceted privately owned business [sic] based in the North East of England”, with care homes and security firms alongside their leisure “division”. 

I have no particular problem with big companies, or even with companies that do more than one thing. I am neither an anti-capitalist nor a starry-eyed believer that a good restaurant must of necessity be independently owned. However, you also can’t blame me for noticing that I’ve frequently struggled to find a half decent meal in the restaurants of companies like Danieli. 

Never heard of them? Try Bar B in The Gate. Or YOLO in Ponteland (see my rather scathing review of their High Bridge Branch here). Or the (rather better) shipping containers on Pilgrim Street. There you go: of course you know Danieli Holdings. My latest attempt at a decent Danieli meal was at The Muddler on Grey Street, where on a pleasant Sunday afternoon Mrs Diner and I took a friend to help us lay siege to their Pan-Asian offering.

4 November 2019

Scream For Pizza

www.facebook/scream4pizza
Food ✪✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪ 

21 Starbeck Avenue 
Sandyford 
NE2 1RJ 

0191 261 7974 
facebook.com/Scream4Pizza 

Accessibility? Yes 
Gluten free? “Gluten free pizzas available, but not suitable for coeliacs due to environment” 

Until pretty recently, if you were to ask me where in Newcastle to go for a sit-down pizza that’s a step (a lot of steps, actually) up from your standard cheapo pizza/pasta job, there would only be one answer: I'd be sending you to Cal’s Own.  

But, just like the Number 1 bus through Heaton, you wait years to have somewhere else do good Neapolitan style pizza and then three show up at once. Who doesn’t like choice? When it comes to pizza, not me. Flint Pizza on Chillingham Road looks the part, and I’ll reporting back before long, but first let me tell you about the bricks and mortar gaff from Street Food veterans Scream for Pizza.

3 November 2019

The Ship Inn, Wylam

Food ✪✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

Wylam 
Northumberland 
NE41 8AQ 

01661 854 538 
theshipinnwylam.co.uk 

Accessibility? No 
Gluten free? Yes 

When walking into a pub for the first time, I have a list of things to look out for that normally indicate whether or not the cooking is likely to be decent. Neither big television screens farting out rotating news nor tartan carpets are on that list. The Ship Inn in Wylam has both, as well as a number of other features that you'd expect to find in the category of establishment we call “country pub”.


The thing is, it is definitely an actual pub. Some restaurants claim to be pubs, but try grabbing a seat at the bar and you’ll soon find you’re in the way of service. Not here. There were plenty of locals chatting over a pint while the world fell to bits in real time on Sky News. The fact that The Ship is also serving accurately cooked dishes hewn from fine ingredients in a room which hasn’t been Farrow and Balled to death only made me love it all the more.

22 October 2019

The Patricia (re-review)

Food ✪✪✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

139 Jesmond Road 
Jesmond 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
NE2 1JY 

0191 281 44 43 
www.the-patricia.com 

Accessibility? No 
Gluten free? Yes 



If there is any downside to the ongoing struggle to create an authoritative run-down of our region’s restaurant scene - and you can put your violins away, I’m not in the market for sympathy - it’s that I don’t go back to my favourites as often I’d like. 

Here’s the thing: people keep opening new restaurants, and I am possessed of but one gut. I simply don’t have the time to visit old favourites as much as I’d like to. Well, let this review act as a partial corrective. What it might lack in narrative peril - there was little doubt that we’d be any less than wonderfully well fed and watered - can perhaps be made up for in wide-eyed enthusiasm. You see, I really bloody love The Patricia.

30 September 2019

Mexico 70

Food ✪✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

312 High Street West 
Sunderland 
SR1 3ET 

Accessibility? Yes 
Gluten free? Yes

No phone number 
facebook.com/mexico70sunderland 
  
It’s fair to say that my dispatches from the front line of the Sunderland restaurant scene haven’t always been popular with the locals. 

“Get out and stay out” has been the general tenor of the comments hurled at my efforts. I was once called an “aching ballbag of a man”, after what I think was actually a moderately positive review of I forget where. Last time out I was accused on Facebook of trying to destroy the city, which even I would suggest is overstating the influence of my reviews just a tad. 

When, on an upcoming trip to Wearside, I asked Twitter where I should try, one friendly local instructed me to “Don’t bother if you are only going to slag off the city like last time!!!” 

This whole thing is, of course, a complete misunderstanding. I bear no ill will towards the Mackems’ fair city. Quite the opposite. Some of my best friends support Sunderland. Well, one or two. It is entirely in this spirit of comradeship that I have occasionally wondered in print how it can be possible for nearly 300,000 people to be so poorly served by the hospitality industry. Don’t shoot the messenger and all that. 

So, it is from precisely that same sense of solidarity that I take so much pleasure in declaring that I’ve finally found somewhere in Sunderland's city centre that I am delighted to wholeheartedly recommend. And thanks to so many on Twitter who suggested it.

22 September 2019

The Travellers Rest

Food ✪✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

Front Street 
Witton Gilbert
County Durham
DH7 6TQ 

0191 371 0458 
www.travellersrest-wittongilbert.co.uk 

There are two pubs near Durham called The Travellers Rest. One is in the sleepy little village of Witton Gilbert, just off the A691, and is the subject of this review. The other, in Belmont, is a low-slung lump of brick with billboards advertising Sky Sports and a “Thursday Sizzler night”. That’s the one that Google Maps took us to. 

“Are you sure it’s here?” Mrs Diner asked, her voice betraying real concern as we watched a staff member cleaning out the ashtrays on the picnic bench just prior to opening. 

I checked and, chastened, we hot-footed west towards Witton Gilbert. All of which pre-meal jeopardy was fine because I knew that once we’d actually found him, we were likely to be brilliantly fed by Ruari Mackay.

Chucho's Tacos

Food ✪✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪ 

36 Acorn Road 
Jesmond 
NE2 2DJ 

07716 562 684 

Accessibility? No 
Gluten free? Yes  

facebook.com/chuchostacos

Haggis is one of my favourite things. I enjoy it in all its guises, from the best (Hendersons’ of Castle Douglas is a bit spesh) to the less fabulous (tinned, from Aldi - it was a gift). I like it prepared traditionally (oven, bit of water in the tin, cover with foil, accompanied by good single malt whisky and a set of bagpipes) or à l’écossais (battered, plunged into a vat of roiling oil until it floats, garnished with chips and Rennies on the side). 

But, for all my not insubstantial experience of this product, never had I been served it with a wedge of lime. Not until I tried Chucho’s Haggis Taco.

12 September 2019

Mr Petit

Food ✪✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

46-47 Park View 
Whitley Bay 
NE26 2TH 

0191 280 9199 
www.mrpetit.co.uk 
Accessibility? Yes 
Gluten free? Yes 

People move to the coast for all sorts of reasons, and they’re often jolly happy to tell you all about them. 

“Oh, the schools are excellent, darling, OFSTED gave it flying colours.” 

“We just wanted a better quality of life, know what I mean?” 

“The smell of the sea at the end of every day...well, it’s just so energising.” 

All fair enough and wonderful, and not in any way smug, I’m sure. But why would a restaurant move to the coast? Perhaps we can ask Mr Petit.

31 August 2019

Siam Supreme

Food ✪✪ 
Ambience ✪✪✪ 
Service ✪✪✪✪ 

160 Heaton Road 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
NE6 5HP 

0191 228 9689 
siamsupreme.co.uk 

Accessibility? Yes 
Gluten free? Yes

I am fortunate enough to have lots of nice meals out and most are comparatively easy to write about. I just open my trusty Concise Oxford Thesaurus at page 799 (the one with the entry for “tasty” on it), prattle on about the interior of the place for a bit as if I know anything about interiors, bish, bash and indeed bosh, and there you go. 

But how to string together a thousand or so words on an experience that was neither triumphant nor indeed utterly disastrous, but - ye horrors! - just disappointingly mediocre? Not terrible but just very meh? I imagine that would take some skill, some deftness of touch, perhaps even a little talent. I’m not sure if I’ve much of any of those, but we’re all gathered round the metaphorical campfire now, so what the hell. Let’s give it a go.