“Jesmond” location inflates prices.
Having been to trendy As You Like It (NE2 1DB) on many (drunken) occasions, we had never ventured to the upstairs restaurant – something that changed recently given a recent Groupon voucher.
The restaurant – voted “seventh sexiest in the world” by Observer in 2008 – is gorgeous, decked out with typical Apartment Group random furniture (which is all available to buy!). It is dimly lit but this adds to the warm atmosphere, as does the mish-mash of old tables and chairs of odd sizes; a really nice place to have a chilled out drink.
Of course, we have to have cocktails – probably a highlight of any AYLI visit – serving everything from their orange & cranberry twist on a cosmo to “DIY” bellini’s.
On our first visit we had a share starter of grilled pitta bread with marinated olives, hummus, tzatziki, and a chilli cream cheese dip (£9.95, pictured). Everything is nice and of a decent quality, but disappointing from a value for money point of view.
For main I went for an asian style lamb rump on a flatbread with curry sauce and fresh onion relish (£15.95). The meat is juicy and and the flavours are fine, if nothing too exciting. The accompanying curry sauce is a treat and quite unusual to see served with a steak like this.
We also have slow cooked pork with fondant potato, black pudding and apple finger dumpling and English asparagus (£15.95, pictured) – the potato is burned, and the black pudding well overdone – disappointing, as it tasted as though it would have been great otherwise. The sauce is impressive but there’s not enough of it.
Service is also pretty hit and miss, we twice had a very slow service, and on another visit, we were browsing the menu – only to have it taken from our table claiming there is no food left!
On a return visit I have hand made beef burger, topped with cheese, crispy bacon, tempura onion rings and proper chips (£11.95, pictured) – a good burger, if not mind-blowing. The onion rings are fresh, light and not greasy – and the burger obviously home made but lacking real meaty punch that you would expect. The chips (same as on fish fillets) are great, doused in vinegar.
One thing we can certainly vouch for, having had it five or six(!) times now, is the haddock fillet strips in a Newcastle Brown Ale batter with mushy peas, tartare sauce and proper chips (£12.95, pictured). The batter on these fish strips (fingers?) is crispy and light, and perfectly complemented by the excellent tartare sauce. The chips taste exactly like fish shop chips, perhaps as they are cooked in “traditional beef fat dripping”? Very tasty, but again, a high price to pay for what is essentially fish fingers and chips.
We really wanted to test the benchmark sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream (£6.50), but again, this price point is way too steep in my opinion, and decided to not return to the AYLI restaurant. All prices listed here are for the restaurant – at an average of three to four pounds more than the main bar downstairs. We will certainly be back for food at the bar downstairs – and I’d recommend you do the same.
Nonetheless, the restaurant was packed on a quiet Thursday evening in Newcastle, so the “Jesmond” appeal must be working on some…
Scores on the Doors: 5 Stars