I am a proud Geordie who loves Newcastle to bits and there is not often a time I can find fault in the city. However, up until recently there has been a noticeable and disappointing lack of French eateries in my beloved city. When I saw on social media that a French café, wine bar, bistrot and market would be opening up in the very centre of Newcastle, it felt like a breath of fresh air! I couldn’t wait to go along and give it a try!
Photo source: The Chronicle Live
The French Quarter is situated in the railway arches near to Central Station, by the more well-known Herb Garden restaurant. This positioning in itself already gives the restaurant a cool and interesting vibe! The owners, Cedric and Catherine have created The French Quarter from a genuine interest and love of good food and wine, and it really shows. The moment I walked into the restaurant, Cedric gave me a very warm welcome and introduction to the French Quarter concept – he explained it was a more informal take on French dining and cuisine, with smaller plates of delicious food to graze on and enjoy.
One thing that really piqued my interest was the ‘Wine of the Week’ idea. Cedric gave the impression of being very knowledgeable about the wine that was on offer, and persuaded me to give their ‘Wine of the Week’ a try. I was very grateful for this as the glass of Sancerre white was crisp and fruity, and went down a treat with our first dishes – a mixed charcuterie board (planche mixte) and tomato, garlic and olive oil sourdough (pain à la tomate). The charcuterie board consisted of various hams, cured meats, a smoky pâté, terrine, a lovely selection of cheeses and pickles – my idea of heaven! I would 100% recommend getting some sort of bread with the board considering the tomato bread we had was to die for!
After this we decided to stick with the ‘tapas’ theme and select a fish dish (moules marinières), a meat dish (subric au jambon de Bayonne or French cured ham croquettes) and a vegetarian dish (Camembert rôti with crudites). Each dish was delicious in its own right, and we particularly enjoyed the ham croquettes which came with a yummy aioli style dip. All of the flavours of the dishes were lovely, especially as my friend and I are big fans of garlic! The meal was made even more enjoyable by the attentiveness of Cedric and his staff: Cedric even went to the effort of offering us both spoons to enjoy the creamy, garlicky broth at the bottom of the moules marinières.
The French Quarter also offer a set lunch menu with the option of choosing two or three courses, with offerings of ratatouille and an interesting sounding smoked aubergine dish, amongst others.
To finish off what was a thoroughly enjoyable meal, we treated ourselves to a rich and velvety homemade chocolate mousse and an Aperol Spritz each – delicious! If you’re looking for somewhere a bit different to eat in Newcastle, The French Quarter certainly gets my recommendation. The food is flavoursome and nostalgic, the host was attentive and enthusiastic and I loved those little touches like the funky flooring and having French soap in the bathroom! ‘French tapas’ really is a new concept for me and for the city of Newcastle, but my experience at The French Quarter has shown that it works very well indeed.
Overall rating: ****
Pro(s): Great location with lovely food and attentive staff to match. A really interesting new concept too!
Con(s): It is hard to find anything to really criticise about my lunch at The French Quarter but I’d perhaps say that, as with many tapas-style restaurants, you can end up ordering lots of small plates of food and before you know it you’ve racked up quite a bill! Very difficult to avoid this when all of the food sounds and looks delicious though.