Lunch at The Raby Hunt, Summerhouse

Our visit to The Raby Hunt (DL2 3UD) was long overdue. For the past couple of years, it has been, and still is the region’s only Michelin star restaurant, with rave reviews from foodies all over the country.

Last week we finally got there, wahey! We had the three course lunch menu, which was good value at £28.50 and although the final bill came to nearly quadruple that,  to be fair, there’s no better way to try Michelin star dining locally without spending ~£80 each (+ extras +wines) on a tasting menu. I’ll not delve too much into the intricacies of  each dish, but here’s what we had on the day.

the raby hunt cod skin Continue reading

The Staith House, North Shields

It’s been a hard month – mostly scranning Michelin style in July, given it’s my birthday month and all, but to be honest, I think I’m not alone in leaning more and more towards big plates of good food from the pub as my personal food heaven, rather than fussy over-dressed plates. Unfortunately with “gastro”pubs, though many try, label their burgers as “gourmet” and their chips as “hand cut”,  they’re mostly the same – mediocre food with customary use of microwave.

Along comes The Staith House, a complete refurb of the old “get stabbed” pub on the North Shields fish quay, The Dolphin. It’s John Calton’s second riverside restaurant,  after working in the popular Harbour Lights just over the river . He was in the final of Masterchef: The Pros, so opening his own place was kind of inevitable, though it’s the polar opposite style from fellow Masterchef-er Dave Coulson of Peace & Loaf – a cracking little pub doing good ingredients simply.

The best bit? They’re now doing an early bird menu, which I reckon is probably the best value going. Anywhere.  Mon-Fri 12-3 / 5:30-7. 3 courses £10. Here’s what we had, from the changing daily menu.

staith house bread and beef dripping Continue reading

Tapas at Salsa Cafe, Newcastle

Like most British people who have had a holiday anywhere in Spain since 1970, I absolutely love tapas. The concept, the sharing, the tasting, the passing round. But….it’s yet another gap in the Newcastle food landscape, as though you have your El Torero etc. none seems to be doing it amazingly well. Before seeing the excellent Dance ’til Dawn, we took a gamble at the Salsa Cafe (NE1 4AE) to see if it was any good.  Six tapas for £26, and sangria just makes everything better, doesn’t it?

salsa cafe tapas Continue reading

What We’ve Been up to Spring 2014

So, despite the broken collar bone and all, I’m getting back into blogging! I started a new job at digital marketing agency Silverbean doing something I love, and now have more money to spend on feeding myself, wahey! Which is convenient, as the whole “not accepting paid meals” ethos means I’m obviously struck off all the freebie/event lists. My heart bleeds. Twitter is still battering my head in, despite the long-fabled “mute” feature appearing, so I’ll be posting more short-form trivial thoughts here instead.

Fish & Chips at The Staith House, North Shields

fish & chips at the staith house

Seriously, shit hot. Like right up there with the very best. Lightly battered fish barely fits on the plate, and chips (few they are) have THE CRUNCH. I’m not a big fan of the gummy pea puree, and it’s lacking the quintessential batter/scraps on the side, but this was a wedding hangover cure from heaven.  More than you’ll pay for fish & chips anywhere else on the quay, but so, so much better. Up your game, Oceans, Waterfont et al.

American BBQ  at The Feathers Inn

the feathers inn brisket sandwich

the feathers inn burnt end mash

You just can’t go wrong with the Feathers. We’ve made it an annual pilgrimage now at Easter, or on the May bank holiday when there’s usually a beer festival & BBQ on, but we missed out on both this year. So when they announced an American-themed BBQ on a sunny bank holiday weekend, the trek along the A695 just had to be done.

It’s a rare thing, but the picky/tapas-ish menu with all things meaty just wiped us out. Wanting the meat sweats? Check out the burnt end mash featuring more meat and butter than potato and the 12-hour smoked brisket. For a meat lover, there is just nowt better than the Feathers on a good day, so if you’ve still never been, they tend to do a bit of a BBQ session on the August bank holiday. Still easily one of the top 5 places to eat in the North East for me.

Latimer’s Seafood Deli

latimers fruits de mers

Bit of a forgotten hero, all the way out there in mackem-land, but I wax lyrical about Latimer’s catches. Since getting my mam & dad a massive seafood platter a couple of christmases ago, I’ve wanted one of my own. The fruits de mer with smoked haddock (~£14) was probably made for two, but it was all so fresh and delicious that the lot got devoured. Particular shout out for the smoked haddock – gorgeous and worryingly moreish on its own or in its pasty form. Equally great, but maybe not so much on a summer day, the chowder ticked all the right smokey bacon and creamy boxes.

I wish they’d open a damn Newcastle outlet of some sort, but it’s worth a trek over to Seaburn, especially if you want an unusual fish/seafood, as they have nearly everything. Most importantly, you know it’s going to be fresh. Class.

Groupon/LivingSocial

Sometimes I get carried away with these daily deal sites. It used to be that they were good for testing the waters with somewhere you might not usually go, but now it’s just an excuse for places to sell you something sub-standard to what they normally do. Which proves to be entirely counter-intuitive, because you then never want to go back.

One success was a quick meze platter at Marmaris BBQ. Expected crap, got “would eat again”. Think yoghurt and tonnes of parsley.

Marmaris bbq platter

Blakes afternoon tea though? Great idea in principle, terribly “get em’ in cheap and give them cheap” in practice.

But… the most recent epic fail was this effort from NE4 Cafe Bar. Aye, it’s just like a student hang-out, but this was not good at all. Congratulations guys, the globby chicken thing on sliced white was the grimmest thing I’ve had this year.

ne4 cafe bar platter

Next Up?

The brief glimmer of sunshine we had the past few weekends has given me an overwhelming urge to ditch Newcastle and go on an extended driving holiday in Italy. We can all dream? Until then, House of Tides still seems to be divisive, but a visit to the Raby Hunt is long, long overdue. New things in town include: Miller & Carter, meh? Harry’s Bar? Have you been to Two Fifths? What did you think?