4 Queen Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 447 2327
8am - 5pm daily
***JOURNAL READERS' AWARD 2013***
Simon Snowball and his wife Maggie run one of Newcastle’s best little cafés. Quay Ingredient (QI to the regulars) is directly beneath the Tyne Bridge, opposite the new gastropub and microbrewery The Bridge Tavern, and just round the corner from Rasa and Pan Haggerty.
This part of Newcastle’s Quayside is improving fast, culinary speaking, and it will get even better when Kenny Atkinson’s new place opens round the corner later this year.
Snowball is a talented chef who earned his spurs under Jean-Christophe Novelli and at various North East restaurants, including Irvin’s in North Shields. He is a really nice man, working quietly away on his own at the back of the café, while his wife bustles about, meeting, greeting and serving, with a cheerful "Yes, Darling" to all and sundry.
Maggie brings the charm and efficiency from her years fronting up the dining room at Jesmond Dene House Hotel. It’s a lovely place to while away the odd half hour over coffee, breakfast, or a light lunch or afternoon tea.
It’s also very intimate – just half a dozen tables, crammed together, so it's not the best venue for a private business meeting - use the Malmaison round the corner.
They have great breakfasts, including eggs benedict (with smoked bacon or parma ham), cinnamon pancakes, French toast, kippers and smoked salmon from Robson’s of Craster, served with strong Italian coffee. They also offer cholesterol-defying “breakfast trio” sandwiches, served on stotties with the token healthiness of some rocket leaves on the side. Alternatively they have gluten-free cereals and a good selection of leaf teas.
At lunchtime they have quite interesting salads (including rump steak, ham hock or duck confit) and generous sandwiches served on slate platters, with excellent homemade soups. There's no alcohol, but they have Fentiman's lemonade and ginger beer.
I recommend the QI special for value: a bowl of soup and half a Parma ham and rocket baguette for £4.95.
It’s open every day except Tuesdays. Breakfast is served until 11.30am, and all day at weekends.