The Secret Diner
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO RESTAURANTS, GASTROPUBS AND CAFÉS
in Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Teesside, North Yorkshire and beyond
26 November 2020
Dining Under Lockdown: House of Tides
7 November 2020
Dining under Lockdown: Kennedy and Rhind
2 November 2020
Journey Cafe Bar and Kitchen
07950 471 151
Gluten free options? Yes
I need scarcely tell you what odd times these are in which to eat out. I can't imagine what it must be like to actually run a restaurant. Even as I tap this out at the end of October I'm waiting to hear from our glorious leader whether people will be able to eat in restaurants in the coming week. It's a sign of how fast things are moving that on the evening of the meal I describe here there was a sense of gloom closing in, as numbers were going in the wrong direction and even our genial host Adam admitted that he hadn't felt comfortable about promoting his own restaurant on Instagram that night. Then things went right for a bit, but not right enough. I hope as I type that these words aren't about to become irrelevant.
It was via Instagram that we found this particular Journey. Mrs Diner follows all the cool arty types on there you see, and it seems that this is where all those cool arty types like to hang out. I have to confess it had sneaked in under my own radar, despite the central location just next to The Laing Gallery. It used to share the space with a bike shop, but is now very much its own thing, and recently started an evening service as well as the daytime shift.
And a very lovely space it is too, all high ceilings, dark green walls and chipboard bench seating. It feels like it has been done with an eye on the budget by someone with excellent taste. You may be interested to know that it's very spacious, and very much doing all the Covid-secure stuff. Rather more excitingly, you may also be interested to know that they make a very fine Negroni which helped me segue nicely into weekend mode, aided by the toe-tapping sounds of Aim's Cold Water Music. Mrs Diner, custodian of the car keys for the night, ordered an excellent zippy home made lemonade.
The menu draws its inspiration largely, though non-dogmatically, from Persia. It transpires that the chef is Iranian, but are clearly not above throwing some chipotles in a salsa, or offering up a Goan curry. All to the good. And, while not every dish may have hailed from the exact same corner of the globe, they did have something rather more important in common: deliciousness.
First to arrive were a plate of hassleback [I think the chef meant 'hasselback', unless they're complaining about them being a faff to prepare] beetroot, possessing the full spectrum of roasted root flavours from crisp to fudgy to al dente earthiness. They came with a hillock of whipped, lemon-zested feta for swooshing. I've eaten my fair share of hasselback spuds, but never beetroot before, I'm now eyeing up the contents of my veg cupboard, looking for other things to hasselback (that's thinly slicing them almost all the way through, which is less of a hassle than it looks). So yeah, these were really good.