How to spend a gourmet weekend in Newcastle Upon Tyne
Newcastle’s food scene has emerged from the pandemic with a renewed sense of vigour. Here is a food and drink guide to Newcastle to help you navigate your way around the city.
In the couple of years since my last visit to the Toon, there are even more new bars, restaurants and food tours to make this a great city for a gourmet weekend away.
You might not have thought of going to Newcastle for a foodie weekend break but you really should. In the last few years, Newcastle has undergone a foodie revolution. Celebrity chefs have paved the way for exciting new food and drink entreprenuers.
We arrived in the Newcastle the day after the announcement that the Saudis had bought a big stake in Newcastle Football Club. There was a thrum of excitement in the city and the hospitality trade were especially thrilled. Saudi money will help propel the football club into the stratosphere and in turn, the city will see an economic boom
Newcastle and Gateshead, separated by the river Tyne has always had a reputation as a party town. Besides the groups of girls in their pink tiaras, draped in “bride-to-be” sashes, there are increasingly more visitors who are drawn by the craft beer and exciting dining options.
The food scene has been buoyed by new young food and drink entrepreneurs. The gentrification of Ouseburn has made this trendy enclave a haven for small brew pubs and independent eateries.
Guided Food tours in Newcastle
If you only have a couple of days to explore the city, a really efficient way to explore and taste what Newcastle has to offer is to take a food walking tour.
We joined Amy from Triple A food tours in both the City centre and also in the regenerated Ouseburn.
The Newcastle city food tour starts in the middle of the shopping area, by the Grey Monument. This tour takes about 3 hours and you get to sample and taste a wide variety of what the city has to offer.
From Grey’s Monument to Grainger Market
Grainger Market, which once house the original Marks and Spencer’s store, is now slowly changing from a community market to a food and drink destination.
We tasted delicious puri and a fabulous masala chai at Snackwallah Indian Street Food (at about half the price of the eqivalent in London).
Fresh oysters from nearby Lindisfarne are shcuked for you at Lindsay Bros Fisheries.
Follow that with a round of short craft beers at Firebrick Brewery. Brewed in nearby Bladon-On-Tyne, this beer company has over 14 different types of craft beers. You can drink it there or take some away in their carry-out Growlers.
From there we moved on to the oldest dining room in the UK, the Blackfriars. Dating back to 1239, they used to house King Henry III as there was no inn that was fit for royalty. The Dominican friars built their first priory here on donated land and it is rumoured that there are tunnels underneath the old buildings that connect to a convent where secret trysts may or may not have happened.
The collection of buildings house a bar, restaurant, medieval banquet hall and some lodgings upstairs where the monks use to stay.
The menu is a modern British menu and we had a lovely mackerel pate paired with a glass of white wine, while two ladies on the next table enjoyed an elaborate afternoon tea.
From here, we meander through ancient streets which takes us past the WC Newcastle in Bigg’s Market built into an old underground loo. As you walk along, spot the little castles on the paving stones. These mark the city’s heritage trail around the old part of town.
Our next stop is a very popular Spanish restaurant, Kaltur, where we feasted on fine charcuterie, cheeses and sangria.
Food tours are not complete without dessert and what better way than to end with a cafe gourmand, trio of classic French puddings at French Quarter.
A very cute little Ile flottante, a creme brulee and chocolate mousse, paired with some dangerously delicious dessert wines.
Food Tour of Ouseburn
Visiting the Victoria Tunnel
The second food tour was around Ouseburn, but we started at the historic Victorian tunnels. This was an hour long history tour about how these old mining tunnels were used to keep the people of Newcastle safe from the bombings during World War II. You can take one of these volunteer run tours separately too.
Our first food stop in Ouseburn is in the Brinkburn Street Brewery run by Lee Renforth. They have an inspired North-East small plates menu, from which we sampled some hearty beetroot bhajis and meatballs. To pair with these, we sampled a trio of their craft beer’s. They have a wide selection of cask and keg beers on offer.
While there, do try their “Geordie Pagoda beer” which was inspired by a pagoda in a nearby building. The Pagoda is styled on the nearby Ouseburn school roof which was built to impress the Japanese navy who were in the market to buy some battleships.
Their beer has put this pub on the map and has been made famous in a Japanese documentary.
The next stop is in the next building which houses Kiln, a restaurant and a
surprisingly, a pottery. Besides making some gorgeous crockery for some of the country’s top restaurants, they also offer a pottery experience.
The menu at Kiln offers a variety of Middle Eastern inspired dishes. As we sat down, they served up a variety of mezes, including a fab hummus, labneh and harissa with cherry tomatoes and more, all served with homemade Eqyptian sourdough pita bread.
To drink we had wine but they also offer craft beers and draught beers too. When you visit, you can’t miss the glass counter where they have an abundance of glorious home made cakes. To note for next time we are in the area.
It was only our second stop but we were getting very well fed already but there was more to come.
Of all the stops on this tour, I was most keen to revisit the Cookhouse by Anna Hedworth, which now has a newer and much bigger home. When I first visited, they were housed in 2 shipping containers, a tiny open plan kitchen with a couple of tables outside. Anna’s food was seasonal and creative and it was exciting to see that they have evolved into a full blown restaurant.
There are now two floors of indoor and outdoor dining with a little provisions store on the ground floor. The outdoor seating on the terrace has terrific views over the river and a massive grill where they grill the bread before serving.
We sat in the ground floor dining room which is dominated by a bar along one wall. Behind the bar, a shelf of what looks like alien beings are being cultivated which turns out to be very delicious, gut-healthy kombucha which you will find on the menu.
This is my favourite restaurant in Newcastle and you should really book in for a really good seasonal, locally sourced meal done with imagination. I hear they have plans for further expansion, so will see what appears for our next trip to the city.
To finish off, we ended up in the Ernest pub for some classic puddings. Look at the size of this sticky toffy pud. They are enormous and really finished us off.
Fuevo in Fenwick’s Food Halls
Fenwick’s Food Halls is quite spectacular. It will rival all the other food halls in department stores that I have been to. In here you will find butchers, fishmongers, a well curated selection of high end groceries and local craft beers and spirits.
In addition to that, you will find a couple of good places to eat. At Fuevo, we had a stunning selection of tapas. In the UK, the quality of tapas range from dismal to extraordinary. Fuevo’s offerings and service were very good indeed. The favourites were the chorizo, pork belly pinxo, churros and Fuego pizza. Basically, everything on the menu is well sourced and well executed. Very impressed.
Before leaving, I had to buy this tub of Wagyu beef dripping from the butchers. I have been looking for some tallow for a few recipes and this will be perfect.
Chaophraya Thai Restaurant, Eldon Square Mall
This Thai restaurant surpassed my expectations. Situated on the top floor of the the Eldon Square shopping mall, the long dining room has a wall of glass with views over the Grey’s Monument.
This is one of the better Thai restaurants that I have been to the UK. The food is served with that friendly Thai hospitatlity. If you are stuck on how to order, their set menu is very generous and will suit every taste.
Träkol By the River Brew Company
Located on the Gateshead side of the Tyne in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge, this restaurant is one of the most popular in the city. Both for the views from the outdoor bar or in the glass walled dining room.
The kitchen is dominated by a fire spouting wood fire grill which informs the menu.
We had the Market Fish Fest, a whole Brill, fresh from the North Sea, chargrilled over fire. A real treat for us in the South where we hardly see fish served like this on the menu.
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Now is a great time to visit Newcastle Gateshead to experience the city as it grows into a global destination. This is by no means an exhaustive list but if you are planning a gourmet weekend to Newcastle, this guide will ensure that you have a truly delicious time.
EatCookExplore was a guest of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative.