139 Jesmond Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
0191 281 44 43
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.
Partly it’s because of how it looks, inside and out. There is very little that’s extraneous or showy. The purples, brown and creams in which the place is painted are nice in a slightly unfashionable kind of way. Tables are clothed and candled and the lighting in the evening is flattering. As soon as you walk in you want to sit and eat, a trick that many restaurants fail to pull off. The net curtain in the window makes me feel like I might be in some Parisien bistro, or my Granny’s house. Either way, it’s comforting.
The music is good. I mean, really good. I think my feelings on restaurant music are that it must either be brilliant or not there at all. To play a bunch of dross to people who are paying money to sit in your room is a real crime. Anderson Paak, Maribou State and The Dip were on the stereo. Get them into your ears, you can thank me later. Or, rather, you can thank Nick Grieves. I’m assuming he is as responsible for the tunes as he is for the quality ingredients prepared with judicious restraint that issue from his open kitchen.
I think you could describe the food at The Patricia as “not mucked about with”. In fact I think I just did. Our recent meal was bookended by a pair of dishes that demonstrate this ably, both of which feature the bracing tang of preserved cherries and have become sort of classics.
Up front from the snacks bit of the menu, an Epoisses “toastie” in which fried sourdough crunch gives way to the melted funky squidge of one the truly great cheeses, with those cherries playing the top notes. Just wonderful.
And at the end, an untidy dollop of the most excellent dark chocolate mousse, made grown up by the addition of a miso caramel and given crunch from toasted hazelnuts.
There was plenty of fun in between too. Their bread is excellent, its unbidden and uncharged for arrival a sign of civility.
A cracker of trout roe and egg yolk, the latter cooked to a gel-like consistency was nice slap of salt around the chops.
Of our three starters, a fried Margherita pizza was the least impressive. I think it might have hit the spot better had we enjoyed it upon stumbling out of a boozer at closing time.
However a raw beef dish with ginger and chilli was a delicious riff on a Thai yam nuea yang salad, the balance of flavours just right and the beef just about holding its own.
My starter of potatoes and onions - fancy Grelot onions, mind you, the petals charred round the edges, and the whole thing doused in a glorious parmesan sauce - was an umami-tastic delight.
The depth of flavour in a main course of mutton shoulder made us sigh. You can keep your milk-fed lamb; show me the old stuff. The acidic counterpoint to this gelatinous tangle was a tomatillo salsa, a few leaves of baby gem giving freshness. My main course of pork loin featured crisped fat, tender pale flesh, charred cabbage and a total belter of a sauce au poivre. Tremendous.
It was Mrs Diner’s turn to booze it up, and mine to drive. The wine list here is full of interest, tending towards the low-intervention.
She tells me that both the Folle Blanche from the Loire and Sicilian Nero d’Avola were delicious. I have no reason to doubt it.
In addition to the must-order chocolate mousse, we tried their tiramisu. Ye gods, it was good. Ploughing through its clouds of cream, booze, coffee and sponge took me straight back to Rome’s Spanish Steps, and a quickly devoured little punnet of the same dessert, procured from Pompi. If you ever go to Rome, get a Pompi tiramisu. It’s every bit as good as The Patricia’s.
Our dinner cost us £130 including tip. It is possible to eat here for far less than that. Their three course prix fixe comes in at £25. There are precious few restaurants that you can rely on so confidently to provide the backdrop for a lovely meal out. Lots of places do some, or most things well, but few get as much right as The Patricia. It’s a place by, and for, people with a love of restaurants, of good food and wine. Of things cared about and things done well. That’s why it’s still one of my favourite restaurants in Newcastle, and I’m so happy to recommend it to those of you who haven’t been yet. Again.