If you live in or around Newcastle or are planning a visit you may want to know the best places to eat. Tuck into this fabulously tasty list put together by twochubbycubs. Written by the very spherical but very happy couple known as James and Paul who have been blogging about food, dieting and other nonsense for over three years, amassing a following of over 210,000 followers on Facebook.
Over to twochubbycubs…
Ah, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Just saying the words brings to mind stotties, Greggs and people thinking they’re hilarious by attempting ‘why aye pet’ or rambling on about Byker Grove. Yes, we all remember when PJ got blinded by the paintball. You’re right, someone once punched a horse in the face during a football riot. But we’re so much more than that these days – we’ve got culture oozing out from under our football shirts. World class art, amazing buildings, a rich bloody history and some of the best views you’ll find in the UK just a few short Metro stops away.
But what of the food? It’s all well and good having astonishing beaches but if you pass out from malnutrition getting there, what’s the point? Luckily Newcastle is awash with exciting, interesting and unique places to eat. We have everything from fancy in the form of Kenny Atkinson’s Michelin-starred House of Tides to rough and ready in the stalls of the Grainger Market, where you can pick up a slice of gooey-bubbling pizza (Pizza By The Slice), some sticky baklava (Fez Food) and some Brown Ale infused pease-pudding (Pete’s Puddin’) to go with your tatties and mince. I’ll cheerfully spend an hour in there, throwing away my wages and sneaking furtive glances at the dishy bloke behind the counter at Fez Food.
However, rather than give you the obvious choices, I’ve decided to write about five ‘little gems’ of the Newcastle food scene – a couple that perhaps you’ll have never heard of or, rather more embarrassingly and exactly like me, you may have dismissed because you thought they weren’t for you. Let’s get to the money shot: the food.
Tyneside Bar Café
10 Pilgrim St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6QG
Monday – Friday: 10:00 am to 11:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am until late
Sunday: 10:00am to 9:30pm
Hungover? Feeling rough? Haven’t had your movie fix? Try the Tyneside Cinema Bar Café for an early brunch on a Sunday morning. Perhaps a cinema café puts you in mind of the farty smell of popcorn and pick-and-mix with a higher price-per-kg point than saffron but not this place: the food is superb. Tacked onto the side of the fabulous Tyneside Cinema, the café offers a selection of delicious food from local, carefully-chosen ingredients, with the added bonus of regularly held special events. The highlight for me was a speakeasy cinema night where not only do you get your food but also a mystery movie to watch whilst you scoff. Hey, it beats talking to your companion.
In a desperate attempt to put right the misdeeds of the night before, we opted for a late breakfast of steak benedict for me (£10.95) and eggs royale for him (£8.95). The steak was a decent cut cooked perfectly, with the accompanying hollandaise sauce light and silky rather than the gelatinous goop that so often gets passed off as a perfect poached-egg partner. Sriracha hot sauce was a nice touch, if only so I could feel alive again. Paul’s salmon was even better judging by the eye-rolling and curious noises he was making. It would have been too obvious to shout out ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ in a cinema-themed eaterie, so I kept my mouth shut. Decent coffee and fresh ingredients helped make this brunch something to remember and, even better, once you’re done, you’re straight out into the centre of Newcastle to stagger about the shops with a big full belly.
1 Maling St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 1LP
A lot has been written about the bars of Newcastle, and rightly so – there’s not many places where ordering a treble spirit and coke is acceptable these days. However, if you wander a good ten minute walk along our Quayside, passing the awful hooray-henry bars as you do, you’ll find a little treasure trove known as the Ouseburn. Previously a run-down wasteland of deserted factories, a barely-there river and some dubious characters, it’s now all of that plus a few amazing places to eat and drink. I jest: it’s really come on and is now awash with places to cheerfully waste a few hours. The Free Trade Inn has the best views for sure (and up until recently, a pub cat called Craig David) but for what it’s worth, my money is on The Tyne.
We ended up here (via The Kiln, which I’ll mention at the end of this) after taking the Victoria Tunnel Tour, which we heartily recommend if you’re into urban history. The Tyne pub is nestled alongside the Ouseburn river and under the arches of a road bridge and is known throughout Newcastle as one of the best places to go for free live music. Hell, there’s even a free jukebox – fine if you’re playing decent rock music for the crowd, less so if you’re like me and have a tendency to queue up Abba’s Waterloo for a laugh.
We took seats outside and decided to try the ‘pub grub’, knowing absolutely nothing about what would come out. Let’s face it, pub snacks don’t tend to rate very highly on the excitement scale, but goodness me what a revelation this was. We ordered Vietnamese loaded sweet potato fries (£7) and the classic large nachos (£7.50), thinking we’d get the usual half-hearted business where someone opens a bag of Doritos, sprinkles some pre-grated cheddar on top and adds the contents of those awful ‘four dips for a pound’ spreads you get in the supermarket.
Nope. The nachos were absolutely huge, covered in sauce, cheese, a good hot chilli that tasted fresh and flavoursome and all the usual bits and pieces that make excellent nachos. Oh and let’s not forget, you get enough to feed a small army – no stingy portions here. The sweet potato fries were covered in hoisin sauce, peanuts, coriander, satay sauce and other sweet bits that elevated the whole dish way beyond pub food. Washed down with two pints of local ale made for a comfortable, tasty couple of hours.
Heaton: 231 Chillingham Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5LJ
Mon to Fri: 8am-6pm
Gosforth: Unit 30-31, Gosforth Shopping Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 1JZ
Mon to Fri: 8am-8pm
Bit of a change of pace, here: not a restaurant as such but a lovely deli with outlets in Heaton, Gosforth and a concession stand in Fenwick in the centre of town. Their whole ethos is ‘Look Good Naked: Eat Naked’, which is all well and good but I find that such behaviour sharp gets you thrown out of the supermarket. Tsk: I thought every little helps.
They uphold this mantra through excellent lunches, snacks and breakfasts made from natural, non-processed, excellent quality ingredients. Pricy, yes, but worth it – you can pick up a chicken salad with fresh vegetables and an oil dressing for just over £5. I use The Naked Deli for lunch almost every day and it feels good to have a lunch that doesn’t sit heavy on the stomach and fills your body with goodness. To top lunch off they do a range of desserts, snack bars and cakes made from clean-eating ingredients: I heartily recommend the raw salted caramel cheesecake – you don’t get enough (but that speaks more to my greed: I’d plough my way through a cheesecake the side of a bus steering wheel if given the option) but what you do get is delicious.
Give it a go!
The Herb Garden
8 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SA
Monday – Sunday: 11.30am – late
We seem to have a bit of a thing for eating under the arches of a bridge – The Herb Garden is another restaurant which has been stuffed neatly somewhere it shouldn’t, namely under the East Coast Main Line. We ate here on a whim – it was late on Sunday afternoon and Paul was so entranced by the giant pizza oven in the window that it was a done deal before I could finish my ‘but Paul, the carbs’ sentence. We were the only ones in, but that’s purely down to the time of day – normally it’s packed solid. We were seated and served by a lovely friendly waitress and our food arrived in no time at all. We barely had time to work out who had the difficult job of dusting the lighting down (see picture).
We ordered the antipasti selection for two (we wanted to order it for four, but kept our dignity) and it certainly passed muster – tasty cured meats, olives far beyond the usual slop from the supermarkets and decent bread. We tried to eat slowly but it was gone before we could blink: may I stress, we’re greedy.
Given they’re famous for good pizza, we elected for a (deep breath) spinach, egg, pecorino, garlic, mozzarella, olives and basil pizza (£10) and, in a vain attempt to mitigate that cheese, we ordered a flower power chicken salad to share (£12). They came within ten minutes of ordering and believe me when I say they were as tasty as they look. The pizza – clearly fresh and made to order – was cooked perfectly, with a big gooey egg in the middle. The salad, usually always the bridesmaid to the main meal’s bride, was a revelation to the point where we’ve tried to recreate it at home for the blog and failed miserably. The mix of textures, flavours and looks made this a dish more than capable of standing on its own. I didn’t want to share!
There’s the usual array of sides and appetizers to chomp your way through together with an extensive specials board with each dish inviting us to come back and to hell with the diet. There’s a breakfast pizza called The Fannie Farmer – who wouldn’t want to push their face into that on a weekend morning?
37 Pink Lane, Newcastle City Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5DW
Monday 12pm – 10pm
Tuesday 12pm – 10pm
Wednesday 12pm – 10pm
Thursday 12pm – 10pm
Friday 12pm – 10pm
Saturday 12pm – 10pm
Sunday 12pm – 9pm
The Bohemian: a vegetarian / vegan restaurant that had come up time and time again when we searched for ‘healthy evening meals’. I have to admit that I had reservations, namely for 8pm. But also, what to expect from a vegetarian restaurant? Would they have anything to satisfy this bloodthirsty monster? I’m jesting, of course, you’ve seen how we cater to vegetarians on the blog, we’re big fans.
Not ready to stop eating meat but certainly more and more open to the idea. Anyway, in my ignorant head, I was expecting meals that tasted of nothing served to us by folks who looked like streams of milk, hissing at the bright lights of the city outside and handing us food with brittle wrists bending like overcooked spaghetti.
Well, shut my hole. It was wonderful. The restaurant itself was small and eclectically decorated with all sorts of tut and nonsense, the staff were quick to serve but that level of discreet attention that’s hard to find and the food was delicious. We shared a quesadilla and some tempura vegetables for a starter. For the mains, I went for a spinach and cream cheese pizza. I asked what the cheese was made from and when he replied ‘nut milk’, Paul kicked me hard under the table, knowing I was a split second away from going ‘OOOOOH YES PLEASE, MY FAVOURITE’ with a bawdy leer. He’s like the filter I never knew I needed.
Paul chose a pulled jackfruit kebab, lured in with the promise that this slow-cooked fruit tasted and had the same mouth-feel as pulled pork. They were bloody right! It was lovely. We had promised to share our mains 50/50 but I had to keep engineering more and more elaborate excuses to get Paul to turn around so I could steal more of his food: no easy feat when you consider Paul is a man who wouldn’t turn away from his dinner if someone set about his back with a flamethrower. He cracked onto my ruse when I accidentally hurled my fork to the floor for the third time and that was that. I’ve looked into getting some jackfruit for some recipes on the blog but frankly, it’s a ballache. If Waitrose don’t deliver it, I’m not having it.
We accompanied our meal with plenty of lurid cocktails, each one more fruity and decorated than the last. The bill came to a reasonable £65 and we paid in good cheer, staggering gently out into the night.
PS: there’s an excellent ‘escape room’ experience called ‘Exit Newcastle’ just around the corner from The Bohemian – have a go, it’s terrific fun!
It’s not all sunshine and flowers, mind. We wanted to review The Kiln, a new tiny restaurant at the top of the Ouseburn Valley. Following our tunnel tour we staggered up the hill and into the tiny shipping container only to be met with disinterested stares and service that left a lot to be desired. It’s amazing what a ‘hello’ can do.
We paid £11 for two locally brewed beers and, since we weren’t offered a menu or pointed in the direction of food, we sat outside amongst a throng of particularly irksome students. One of them described designing a poster as ‘mere organic foreplay for the main thrust of the movie’ – Paul had to hold me back from drowning myself in the half inch of hipster-beer I had left. A shame: we really wanted to eat here. Online reviews are completely different though, so don’t let me put you off.