Shark Club Gastro Bar
Sandman Signature Hotel, Heber St
Newcastle upon Tyne
0191 229 2615
[Sadly, the standard of food has gone down to ✪✪ since my first optimistic review in 2011]
There's a new phenomenon in the UK, the “gastrosportsbar”. Shark Club Gastro Bar, directly opposite St James’ Park in Newcastle, has scores of television screens carrying every conceivable sport, and by far the friendliest and best-trained staff in Britain.
That may be because they’re not British: they’re 20-something Canadian girls with tight black dresses and genuine smiles. They’re here to train our Geordie lasses: I’d like to be a fly on the wall when the fur flies.
A “trainer” from Vancouver called Holly forced me to try “the world’s best gin and tonic”. It probably is – it’s laced with lime slush. The menu has everything that Barluga (another gastrobar) lacks: small plates of excellent wings, chicken tenders, peppery prawns, calamari, cubes of tender steak. Proper homemade burgers are served medium-rare (as they should be anywhere that has gastro in the title), and they have a good range of steaks, fish and salads.
House wines include a very reasonable Sangiovese at £3.75 a glass; there’s a large and sophisticated wine list and a good range of international beers.
The Shark Club is actually the restaurant of new luxury hotel that’s being built out of the old Newcastle Brewery headquarters, so it opens at 6am for breakfast and closes late. It’s a welcome addition to Newcastle’s culinary scene: modern, relaxed, fun, with sophisticated bar food and great cocktails. The Sandman Signature hotel is the first UK outpost of a successful Canadian chain: Newcastle fans will be delighted that they’ve kept the old blue star logo on side of the building, and there’s another one in the bar.
Don’t expect gourmet here; do expect good, reliable gastrobar food.