Le Raaj curry

Every night is #currynight at Le Raaj.  And me and Suzanne do love a good curry. We have our firm favourites, always mild and creamy and I have eaten the same meal for about 15 years, but Le Raaj in Chester-le-Street brought out Suzanne’s adventurous side!

BubblesLe Raaj is a lovely restaurant. Clean and fresh, it’s tastefully decorated and the ladies toilets are very nice too (these things matter).  The first thing you notice when you walk through the door are the water panels and the bubbles. They’re dotted throughout the restaurant and are strangely hypnotic and very calming.

It was a Tuesday night when we visited so we weren’t expecting it to be super busy but were pleasantly surprised at the amount of people eating; always a good sign, and the atmosphere was happy .

An extensive well priced menu had little impact on me, the usual onion bhajis and korma (chicken not veg this time for a bit of variety) were swiftly ordered, but Suzanne struggling to choose, took the recommendation of the lovely Ahmed and ordered a Chingri Mirch, lightly spiced prawns served in a whole grilled pepper and a Makhoni, a creamy tikka chicken with a really fruity kick.

And then, she asked for a cheesy naan. Now, I love cheese. And I love naan. But together with a curry? I assumed that the bubbles were influencing her decision making capabilities but I went with it – variety is the spice of life after all (dreadful pun I know).

Starters = Lush. Fresh, tasty, well cooked and plated. Couldn’t go wrong.  And the main courses ditto. The korma was as creamy and delicious as it should be and the Makhoni was as beautiful in taste as it was in colour. There’s something about a vibrant bright red curry that’s very exotic, making you dream of warm weather and travelling around far away countries.

Suzanne devoured the cheesy naan. It was very cheesy. I hastily ordered some additional rice and left her to it!

Le raaj icecreamAhmed convinced us to try a sweet. We wouldn’t have ordered one and were already onto coffee, but we’re easily persuaded.

Cheesecake topped with ice cream and a wafer, ‘monkey’s blood’ (raspberry or strawberry sauce for those outside if the North East) and a dash of cream. Devoured.

We sat in the restaurant for a fair while chatting away after we’d finished. We weren’t hurried out but rather left in peace for some rare best-friend down time. Very much appreciated.

The question for us when visiting new places is always ‘Would we return?’.  Great food, lovely staff, hypnotic bubbles, a resounding yes for Le Raaj.

Check out their full menu and price list and they even do take away!

You can follow them on twitter, facebook and instagram.

 

Dans le Noir - Dining in the Dark

We’ve recently head about a fabulous event that’s been arranged for 50 of Centrepoint‘s vulnerable 16 to 25 year olds.

Dan’s le Noir? whose concept is to dine in total darkness, while guided and served by blind people is a truly unique experience which, fingers crossed will change your view of the world by reversing your perspective.

The concept have teamed up with Centrepoint and have arranged a Gastronomic Dinner with Michelin Star Chef Julien Machet. The dinner will be held for 50 of Centrepoint’s vulnerable 16-25 year-olds to celebrate Dans le Noirs 10th Anniversary and decade of successful charitable ventures.

50 homeless young people will experience heightened flavours by enjoying a gastro dinner in the dark. The menu at Dans le Noir? has evolved over the past 10 years and in November 2015, Michelin star chef, Julien Machet, was hired to consult and help John Houel, the London Head Chef, create the four eclectic menus. Chef Julien will be present to assist with the creation of this spectacular dinner.

Dans le Noir? and Centrepoint support those furthest from the jobline to help them get into work. The two companies are joining forces to maximise awareness of the difficulties that blind, and homeless young people, face when trying to get into employment.

A statistic by gov.uk estimate that 16 percent of working age adults are disabled. Recent statistics show that only 46.3 percent of disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4 percent of non-disabled people, making it a significant social issue.

Edouard de Broglie, who founded Dans le Noir? in Paris in 2004, says

50 percent of our staff have a high disability, yet we still operate an efficient and profitable company. We have an incredibly low staff turnover which shows the dedication of our long-standing team. We want to show big companies that those with disabilities shouldn’t be limited to performing only menial jobs. Our guides are incredibly skilled and challenge the perception that blind or visually impaired can serve in a restaurant. Who could have said that 10 years ago?.

Sadie Odeogberin, Head of Skills and Employment, at Centrepoint, says:

The number of young people rough sleeping in London has more than doubled in the last four years, but providing a safe place to stay isn’t enough to solve the youth homelessness crisis. That’s why Centrepoint supports each young person staying with us to find a job or a route into education or training. Like Dans Le Noir?, we’re committed to helping those furthest from the world of work achieve their ambitions. It’s not an easy journey for a homeless young person to make and thanks to the generosity of Dans Le Noir?, we can reward them an experience they will never have had before. Homeless young people are every bit as talented as their peers and with the right support and hard work they can fulfil their potential.

We hope everyone has a fabulous evening!

Suzanne x

 

View of Grey's Monument and Christmas markets from the Botanist

The setting; The Botanist. The occasion; Suzanne’s 40th birthday.

We were celebrating like we were 10 years younger. We’d left the house at lunch time after a hairdressing pamper session. We’d hit the Quayside, not so much like it used to be in the “glory going out days” but a more sophisticated affair (those of us over a certain age will no doubt remember ‘The Boat’ moored on the Gateshead Quayside?).

We enjoyed lots of merriment and drinking and by three ish food was absolutely the only option. Where oh where should we head? To ‘The Botanist’ that’s where. The Botanist is in Newcastle city centre, a beautiful bar and restaurant, where we could watch the Christmas lights being switch on and discuss the benefits of buying a windmill or three for our gardens.

From walking through the door, to leaving several hours later, the staff looked after us wonderfully. You can’t help but be impressed whilst inside The Botanist.  That enormous tree in the middle of the bar is always an attention-grabber, as is the sparkling dome.

botanist lights_edited-1

A bottle of house red got us started, and eventually we made a decision to share a starter, have a main meal each and share a sweet.

To begin Smoked Haddock Fishcake – this was packed with flavour and had plenty of fish which was lovely as so many fishcakes are packed with potato to bulk it up. As always Suzanne was hungrier than me so ate more than her share!

The Botanist cheese burgerI opted for a burger with fries covered in delicious garlic salt (lush) and after long deliberations and recommendations from our knowledgeable waiter, Suzanne chose the 9 oz ribeye with garlic butter and mash.

Suzanne loved everything about her medium rare steak (she assured me it was cooked to perfection) the little squishing out of blood doesn’t appeal to me but apparently it’s nice. And the mash was creamy and lumpless, always a bonus!

David, the restaurant manager, popped over to see us and have a chat whilst we were waiting for dessert. We got the impression that he really did love his job and treated us to some birthday cocktails.

I chose ‘The Botanist’ a concoction of Ketel One vodka, Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, elderflower liqueur, red amaranth, mint, jasmine syrup, lime juice topped with lemonade.

Suzanne opted for ‘The Chocolate Rose’ creamy loveliness filled with Ketel One vodka, rose liqueur, rose syrup, liquid chocolate, milk, cream – think Fry’s Turkish Delight in a glass.

Botanist KebabFor desert we shared the strawberry and marshmallow kebab with Sailor Jerry chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. This was heaven we both adored it – not one bit was left.

Suzanne’s overall opinion: “Lots of steps to the main floor but it was good to see the numbers as you walked up (there is a lift though!). I loved the experienced staff who informed us that they have to try the menu themselves so they can talk about with knowledge. The food was good and wholesome (but not to die for). the birthday cocktails were a fabulous treat, the Botanist is a lovely place to meet friends.”

My overall opinion: I loved it. I really like the decor and the feeling of space, the staff were wonderful and the food was delicious. The view is cracking, there aren’t many restaurants in Newcastle that can boast such an amazing vantage point over Newcastle.

We’ll definitely be back.

Nicola x