Whilst I’m well aware of the fact that it is only the beginning of November and the likelihood is that I will have many more fantastic meals before 2018 comes to a close, I’ve decided to pull together my favourite North East dining experiences of 2018 to share with you all!
This year has been a year of exploration and eating out – I’ve finally eaten in restaurants that I’ve been meaning to for a long time and I’ve sampled some excellent dishes served up by new contenders on the North East gastronomic scene.
Have a read about eight fantastic North East eateries that have impressed me this year:
The Potted Lobster, Bamburgh
I’ll always remember my 23rd birthday, because it was the day that I finally got the chance to eat at The Potted Lobster in Bamburgh, Northumberland! If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning of the year, you’ll remember that in my North East 2018 Bucket List I wrote about how much I wanted to eat at this gorgeous little seafood restaurant tucked away in my favourite Northumberland village. Well, I finally got there!
The nautical décor and friendly atmosphere made for the perfect setting to enjoy some fantastic local seafood – from the salt and chilli squid starter, to the garlic butter lobster with chips and locally-caught crab salad main courses, this meal was first-class. The star of the show was most definitely the seafood platter for 2, that came with every kind of seafood and shellfish you can imagine, complete with hand-cut chips, crusty bread and a selection of dips. Absolute bliss!
Omni Café, Monkseaton
The Asian tapas served up at Omni Café in Monkseaton has to be one of my culinary highlights of the year. I’d heard excellent things about this authentic café on Front Street, but nothing quite prepared me for the colours, smells, and flavours we experienced at Omni. Read more about Omni’s famous Sichuan ribs and some seriously good Vietnamese pork belly in my blog post.
The Bay Horse, Hurworth
After a morning of watching my Dad drive an Aston Martin at Croft Circuit, just outside of Darlington, I’d worked up quite an appetite for a good Sunday dinner. The Bay Horse at Hurworth, a 15th-century coaching house, had been recommended to us by a friend – what a recommendation it turned out to be! This lovely, un-assuming pub is packed full of historic character and style – I loved it from the moment we arrived.
I probably sound a bit sad raving about bread and butter, but I promise you that once you’ve tried the homemade bread and butter at the Bay Horse, you’ll know exactly why I say that I could eat just that all day, everyday. Whilst I could’ve happily eaten a whole loaf of the bread with the fresh butter, I thoroughly enjoyed a top-notch beef roast dinner, with a giant Yorkshire pudding, moreish cauliflower cheese and root vegetables too. All of this washed down with a lovely bottle of wine, and finished off with a truly autumnal apple crumble dessert.
Hinnie’s, Whitley Bay
If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably guessed that I am a proud Geordie – I love Newcastle through and through. So, it’ll come as no surprise that one of my favourite meals of 2018 so far was in a restaurant at the coast that prides itself on serving Geordie comfort food! Positioned right at the seafront in Whitley Bay, Hinnie’s always receives rave reviews for their use of local produce to create well-loved, delicious plates of food.
The menu at Hinnie’s has an unmistakeably Geordie influence, with dishes such as Pan Haggerty and Singin’ Hinnies featuring on the menu. When I visited the restaurant in August to celebrate getting into Medical School, we pushed the boat out and ordered everything from North Sea fishcakes (I knew these would be good because I’d tried them once before at Hinnie’s sister restaurant: Blackfriars) and pan-fried duck breast. Well worth a visit and make sure you look out for the special offers and set menus they often have running!
The Redhouse, Newcastle
I love a good pie, especially when it’s served up with a nice dollop of creamy mash and lashings of meaty gravy. Even better with a side of mushy peas that taste just like the ones Grandma used to make! The Redhouse at the Quayside in Newcastle specialises in homemade pies, mash and liquor, as well as serving up a fantastic selection of well-known and craft ales.
Located in one of the Tudor-style heritage buildings on the Quayside, The Redhouse has mood lighting (verging on dingy but I quite like that on a cold, autumn evening) and character that just makes you feel at home straightaway. You feel even more at home as you tuck into one of their homemade pies (I’d recommend the steak one), coupled with your choice of mash (creamy, Dijon mustard and honey, cheese or confit garlic) and gravy (parsley, red wine or meaty). In terms of peas, pick from minted peas, mushy peas or traditional Geordie pease pudding and enjoy!
This place is made even more enjoyable by the fact that each Monday you can get stuck into a pie and a pint for only £9.95, and each Wednesday, two pies and sides will only set you back £12!
The Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland
The second place I’ve been able to tick off my North East 2018 Bucket List is The Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland! This hotel is the proud owner of The Good Pub Guide’s Inn of the Year 2018 accolade – if this isn’t enough to tempt you to visit, their sharing-style Sunday roast was so good it is difficult to put into words. Read all about this historic, countryside location and the best chicken I’ve ever tasted in my blog post.
Cook House, Ouseburn
The third and final place I’ve managed to visit from my North East 2018 Bucket List is the Cook House in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. The mastermind behind the Cook House, Anna Hedworth, has revealed that she intends to move her culinary venture from the small shipping container to a bigger premises in the Ouseburn Valley – I hope the new location is as special as the intimate and cosy shipper container, where I enjoyed a truly memorable lunch with a good friend.
Anna cooks and prepares all her dishes in an open-plan kitchen you can see from your table, whilst you relax and sip homemade lemonade. She also uses lots of local produce, including produce from her own allotment and the Ouseburn Farm down the road. I was a huge fan of her chicken salad with aioli and a sourdough crumb (brilliant and simplistic in equal measures), but I’m keen to go back and try more of her staple dishes, including whipped feta cheese on toast! Look out for her Cook House recipe book, coming out in November 2019!
There is most certainly an obvious reason why Mascalzone is listed as number one restaurant in Newcastle on TripAdvisor, and that reason is because it is so fantastic! Tucked away on a residential street in Sandyford, this family-run restaurant combines Hebridean produce with traditional Sardinian cooking to create something wonderful. Read more in my blog post.
Have you had any spectacular meals in the North East this year? Let me know by leaving a comment – I’d love to hear all about it so I can get planning my 2019 bucket list asap!