2 November 2020

Journey Cafe Bar and Kitchen

Food ✪✪✪✪
Ambience ✪✪✪✪
Service ✪✪✪✪

Higham House
Newcastle upon Tyne

07950 471 151

Accessibility? Yes
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.

As was the wonderfully named kookoo sabzi, a gloriously light frittata of verdant herbaciousness that seemed to be held together by magic, rather than egg. It tasted of health, and came with a decent flatbread and some lightly pickled gherkins. One of these would make an excellent lunch.

Rather more calorific but no less excellent was a plate of halloumi fries, crunchy in their polenta jackets, lifted by the inclusion of nigella seeds, with a pokey, smoky chipotle for dunking. Keeshmish polo - turmeric rice with pine nuts and long-caremelised onions - arrived alongside and was perfectly nice, the grains bidding each other farewell with the minimum of fuss.

So much for the "small plates"; we moved on to stuff from the "bowls", and "flatbreads" section of the menu, and also some that you would not recognise as Persian. A Goan curry of aubergines and green beans was absolutely banging, the spicing deep and satisfying. I'm not sure how canonical it is to throw a load of peanut - possibly peanut butter? - in a Goan curry, but no matter; the resultant dish was dark, rich and compelling

Mrs Diner's avocado and chipotle salsa flatbread was fine, if a little unremarkable in comparison to the curry opposite, looking and tasting like something one might knock up on a quick lunch break.

The two puddings available were also merely fine. With both the toasted banana bread and a slice of coconut flapjack we were comfortably in standard café territory, rather than the globe-trotting Negroni fuelled adventure of the previous hour or so.

No matter: don't let this slightly underwhelming coda put you off trying what is a little beauty of a place, hiding almost in plain sight, bang in the middle of town. The space is lovely, the welcome is warm and much of the food is absolutely delicious. We paid seventy pounds, including service, for a feast. Highly recommended.

Postscript: OK, scrub that, at least partly. Boris has just been on the telly, and none of us are going to be eating out for at least the next month or so. But I'm still uploading these words to you as a gesture of completely impotent but optimistic defiance, in solidarity with the folk working in restaurants who have done so amazingly through all this mad time. You're all brilliant, and when it's allowed again, and if people feel safe to do so, Journey is just one of a host of fantastic places we've all got to visit. See you in December. Maybe.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your honest and positive review! Evening service is a brand new venture for us and we're so happy to get your feedback. We're working on a new dessert menu, as well as separating the main menu in to brunch and evening items, with a few changes and additions too.

    It was so lovely meeting you both, we hope to see you again soon.

    Love, Adam and Sara x