Food

Join us as we eat our way around the North East and further afield.

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This weekends coffee and cake stop was the beautiful Bradley Gardens . This destination lays 4.7 miles from my mum and dads home where I lived for 30 years but it was so well hidden behind an 18th century walled garden that I have only fell upon it one other time but that was only in 2015.

The current owners, Mr Crichton-Jones and Mr Robinson have done a fabulous job of bringing the establishment back to life and in turn giving a je ne sais quoi that seems to be ever growing, just like the garden. 

As I mentioned this is my second visit to Bradley Gardens as I fell in love with it the first time round. My daughter and I were on the hunt for a new place for our mummy and daughter dates when I saw signs for Bradley Gardens and I followed them without any understanding of what we would find. Emily even rolled her eyes when I said we were visiting a garden.  ‘Boring’ was her reply.

You enter the gardens via the car park and are greeted with a nursery and a very cute shed like shop. The path then leads further towards three boutiques which unless you are nosey like me could be missed. The first is the small but perfectly formed Bradley Cook-shop, then there is the Garden Room a jewellery and gift store. When you come back out turn left and enter the next building a most gorgeously inspiring interior design boutique named the Bridgewater Home-store. This was flourished in Neptune bespoke furniture .

Next came the restaurant aptly called ‘Glass House’. We were very pleasantly surprised.

The restaurant was bustling with a great atmosphere but after selecting our goodies we actually sat outside and enjoyed the weather.

Whilst watching my little girl frolic in the grassed area next to our table, collecting dropped apples from the apple tree a smile then a little tear welled. The tear was because I could see that this would make an excellent wedding reception venue. Relaxed but not too relaxed, pretty but not too pretty. formal but not too formal. I asked there and then if it was possible but alas at this point no private hiring is on the cards. Maybe one day?

garden1

Fast forward to visit two, Mother’s day. Since becoming a mother myself and of course having a partner who is close to their mother, Mother’s Day has become a little stressful ensuring everyone is left happy including myself. My morning was spent with my daughter and the afternoon with my mum.

I asked Emily where I should take Momar for the afternoon she whispered in my ear so daddy didn’t hear, “You can take her to our special date place mummy, don’t mind”. This is quite a big deal for her as she likes to keep our secret places ‘secret’.

I collected mum and whisked her off. I hadn’t booked a table, this could have been an epic fail as the Glass House was heaving with many parties of mummies with their families. All of the vacant tables had reserved signs, oh no (especially when mum suggested going to the Metro Centre instead)! The lovely staff came to the rescue and found us a table that was available for the next 90 minutes which is the perfect amount of time for coffee and cake.

Bradley Gardens

As a creature of habit I chose the coffee and walnut cake which I shared with Emily on my first visit and it was moist and yummy and neither flavour outweighed the other. Mum aka Maureen chose a cheese scone which she had warmed with lashings of butter and home made chutney. Both of us had a huge glass of water and two lattes. There was a special Mother’s Day menu alongside the traditional menu and everything that was being brought to the tables was received in delight.

Tummy’s were sated and shopping bug satisfied this is a definite place to revisit but I can’t bring daddy, that’s an order.

You can find Bradley Gardens on Facebook , Twitter  and Instagram. 

I’m looking forward to visiting for a restaurant evening very soon and I’m sure I will tell you about that too.

Love from Suzanne x

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

 

Turtle Bay, Newcastle

As eating experiences go, this was a hot one! Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant opened its doors in Newcastle with the same pizazz and panache as on their menu. When you think Caribbean, what comes to mind? I’ve never been before, but my imagination conjurers up balmy weather, white beaches, sunshine, cocktails and lots of coconuts! This new eatery had a lot to live up to.

As soon as we walked through the door, the well rehearsed staff greeted us personally, shaking our hands and introducing themselves. Nice touch. Immediately offered a cocktail, we were onto a winner.

So let’s start with those cocktails. Wow! They pack some punch (pardon the pun). With plenty to choose from, and some including a 63 percent proof white rum, you definitely need to leave the car at home when you’re having a night out in the Caribbean.

As a bone-fide rum lover, I was in absolute heaven as the rum stocked bar offers a choice of over 40 varieties.

Wandering around, there was a great atmosphere, busy, eclectic, colourful. I was already looking forward to trying the food. Having never eaten in a Caribbean restaurant, I didn’t have any expectations. But if you love all things spicy, I imagine you’ll want to move in.

Turtle Bay Cutters

To the food. The sheer volume we got to sample was staggering (thank you Turtle Bay Newcastle for looking after us so well). Deliciously spicy, the ‘Cutters’ (starters) are inspired by Beach Shacks & Street Hawkers across the Caribbean Islands… Jerk Pit Prawns, Duck Rolls, Jerk Chicken Wings, Pulled Pork Salads, Flat Breads, there are any amount of choices to nibble at and washed down with a soothing Banana and Peanut Butter smoothie, this first course was a real hit on our table.

(I wasn’t sure if that smoothie would work, but we couldn’t get enough of them. Like a pudding in a glass it tempered the spices).

The main courses kept on coming, ‘One Pots’ rich, slowly simmered & uniquely Caribbean of Goat Curry and the scrumptious coco-nutty Run Down; my personal favourite, creamy, flavoursome with just the right amount of kick. A variety of salads and Jerk Pit BBQ food, there’s enough on this menu to satiate any appetite.

Run Down

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay to sample the sweets, but we left with brownies packed in a cute little brown boxes so we were happy ladies.

Nicola and Suzanne

As you’d expect, the staff were lovely, informative and friendly. We really did appreciated the time everyone took to greet us personally and shake our hands. Great customer service always makes the difference when dining out, and this service was great.

Unapologetic Caribbean really works. The décor is great, the eclectic mix of colours and murals represent the food; loud and made to be seen. This restaurant, like the food is not shy or retiring. Fun and frolics, a place to enjoy with friends and go cocktail-tastic.

This taste of the Caribbean in Newcastle has made me want to book my plane ticket to the real place. But in the meantime, I’ll be back to sample the other 39 or so varieties of rum.

Nic  x

 

 

South Causey Inn

Sometimes it’s the non-planned days out that are the best. After some debate about where to eat lunch (somewhere without the queues of frenzied-shoppers), Mike and I ended up at the South Causey Inn, somewhere I’d never been to before.

South Causey Inn is an independent hotel that has it all. The setting is beautiful, it’s situated in 100 acres of land in the beautiful Beamish Valley, close to the world famous museum.  It’s a hotel, restaurant and splendid event venue, including weddings.

But we just wanted a spot of lunch. And what a lunch it was.

As you can see from the photo, the portions are substantial, my “Slider” is considered a lighter bite! The honey BBQ pulled pork mini sandwiches (three of them!) were absolutely gorgeous, the meat was well-cooked and really tasty. The homemade red cabbage slaw set it off a treat, but the sweet potato fries were a little undercooked for me. £10.95

Mike’s cheeseburger was handmade (no packet burgers here) and came with onion rings, slaw, he upgraded to chunky chips (which were substantial and fabulous) and a really tangy homemade relish.

The staff were absolutely lovely, the venue is out of this world (if you like beams, fireplaces, and comfy couches) and we happily whiled away a couple of hours.

At £10.95 each, the meals were good value and I particularly love the amount of local produce used.

Nicola 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