28 February 2015

Grainger Market

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(Street Food)

Grainger Street 
NE1 5JQ 

Mon-Sat 9am – 5.30pm 
(Mon/Wed until 5pm) 

Years ago street food meant dodgy hotdog stalls serving drunken revellers, their hygiene even worse than their food. Or maybe greasy breakfast vans in lay-bys and giant trailers at festivals, spewing out the stench of stale onions. 

How things have changed.

21 February 2015

Tyneside Bar Café

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Pilgrim Street 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
NE1 6QG 

0191 227 5522 

Mon-Thu: 9am – 11pm
Fri-Sat: 9am - late
Sun: 10am – 11pm 

The Tyneside Cinema is one of Newcastle’s success stories. 

Formerly a newsreel theatre, it became the headquarters of the Tyneside Film Society, then, later, the Tyneside Film Theatre, before its final transformation into a beautifully restored three-screen emporium. 

Generations of film lovers, myself included, saw their first independent and foreign films here, and, when it was remodeled and relaunched in 2008, we all celebrated the Tyneside Cinema’s arrival. 

It lies at the centre of both the city and our region’s vibrant creative industries scene. So it’s right that the cinema should have a high quality eatery at its heart, somewhere for filmmakers to network and filmgoers to take their families, with really good food.

14 February 2015

Peace & Loaf

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217 Jesmond Road 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
NE2 1LA 

0191 281 5222 

It’s all change for Newcastle’s fine dining scene. Recently I reported that Kenny Atkinson’s House of Tides has abandoned his tasting-menu-only policy, and introduced a Market Menu option for lunch and dinner. Now I can reveal that two Newcastle restaurants are adding tasting menus to their offerings. 

In March Artisan introduces a seven-course “nose to tail” menu for just £37.50 per person while, later this month, former Masterchef runner-up Dave Coulson adds a tasting menu for his loyal and enthusiastic clientele at Jesmond’s Peace & Loaf. So loyal are Coulson’s customers, that their votes gave it my Journal Readers’ award in 2014. 

It deserves its success. When I first visited, shortly after its opening in November 2013, I gave it five stars, complimenting its modern, complex cooking, ambition and charm. Not resting on laurels, Dave Coulson tweeted that he wasn’t ungrateful, but he hoped that in due course he’d earn a sixth. 

7 February 2015


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104b High Street 
TS15 9AU 

01642 788558 

Mon-Thu 12-2:30, 5.30-9pm 
Fri-Sat 12-2.30, 5.30-9.30pm 
Sun lunch 12:00pm to 4:00pm 
Breakfast daily till 11.30am 

Why are Teesside’s restaurateurs so obsessed with Europe? 

Maybe it’s a longing for warmer climes: there’s Brasserie Hudson Quay in Middlesbrough, “designed to recall the Grand European Cafés of France, Spain and Italy”; there’s Café Lilli in Norton, with its great blend of French, Italian and Greek food; in Yarm there’s Cena, which calls itself a Trattoria, but is more pizzeria; and there’s Muse, which has “continental café” over the door, but is actually a very good brasserie. 

Open for breakfast lunch and dinner, it’s lively, modern and fun, as casual as a pair of ripped designer jeans, and almost as classy.

31 January 2015

House of Tides

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28-30 The Close 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
NE1 3RF 

0191 230 3720 
Accessibility: No lift – ground floor bar area only 

This is an important week for House of Tides. The “casual fine dining” establishment, which opened on Newcastle’s Quayside exactly one year ago, is marking its anniversary with a pretty radical change of direction. 

Despite warmly welcoming its arrival, along with everyone else who cares about good food in our City, I was fairly hard on the place in my last review. There was no doubt that Kenny Atkinsons’s cooking is exemplary, but I was worried about how viable the place would be with just a tasting menu. Could he encourage loyalty from local foodies with one menu entitled Winter? – last February seemed an awful long way from Spring. 

I also questioned the depth of talent in the kitchen – when Kenny cooked, everything was gorgeous, but how would the brigade cope in his absence? The third, and most obvious problem, was the breathtakingly inept service. With a cloying maître d’ and poorly trained staff, front of house really let the side down. 

But that’s all water under the Tyne Bridge. At Kenny Atkinson’s invitation, I returned to celebrate the restaurant’s birthday and I’m delighted to report that House of Tides enters its second year in excellent shape.

24 January 2015

The Sausage Emporium

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Arch 6 
Westgate Road 
NE1 1SA 

0191 340 3082 

I’m sorry, but I don’t get the point of single-ingredient restaurants, which is why, despite a few readers’ recommendations, I’ve haven’t reviewed Newcastle’s Coop Chicken House. Chicken is normally the last thing I’d order from any menu, so to be offered nothing but “Whole, Half or Quarter” isn’t my idea of a fun night out. 

Which may be why I’ve overlooked The Sausage Emporium. It takes a particularly cold, damp January evening to instill a craving for nothing but bangers. 

However when my friend and I arrived at this brightly furnished archway under the East Coast line near Central Station (which make its noisy presence felt every few minutes), we realised that this is a doghouse aspiring to pedigree status.

17 January 2015

The Brasserie at Sage Gateshead

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Sage Gateshead 
St Mary's Square 
Gateshead Quays 
NE8 2JR 

0191 443 4666 

It’s so nice when you find good food in unusual settings, especially in NE8. 

I’d assumed the Sage only served quick-bites and coffees in its cafés. I’d seen the sign for The Brasserie, but I thought it looked spectacularly uninviting with its canteen tables and departure lounge ambience. I suspected an international catering company was responsible, offering prepacked food and disinterested staff, so I’d always avoided it like the plague. 

Well, I was right about the international catering company (British firm Lindley had the contract, but it’s now been absorbed by American giant Centreplate), but I was definitely wrong about the food.

12 January 2015

NE1's Restaurant Week: 19th - 25th January 2015

It’s just a week to go till this year’s popular Restaurant Week in which you’ll be able to dine in some of Newcastle’s finest restaurants for fixed price menus of either £10 or £15 a head. 

3 January 2015


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301-303 Chiswick High Road 
W4 4HH 

020 8747 0377 

Chiswick is a mixture of sturdy Edwardian houses with traffic jams and noisy overflying planes.  It’s the first bit of London you hit after the M4 from Heathrow. 

Cut in two by the relentless A4, quite why properties are so expensive in this polluted congestion zone is beyond me. But it has one redeeming feature: Hedone, which can almost be translated from the Greek as “wanton pleasure” – aptly.

The French

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The Midland 
Peter St 
M2 3NQ 

0161 236 3333 

In the unlikely event that I ever gain an entry in Who’s Who, I’m pretty certain that my list of recreations would include long lunches and sleeping. In my case, there’s a direct correlation between the two. My lunch heaven demands a couple of spare hours and more than a couple of glasses of good wine, after which I am invariably rewarded with the sleep of the dead.