The Settle Down café: Friendly faded comfort
This café, surprisingly large and slightly rough around the edges in terms of décor (think recycled furniture and unfinished floors), claims to have won awards for the best cheap eats in the city. I didn’t check out the claims but they seem very plausible. But the awards it would win from us would be for its friendly service and laid-back vibe, and for the quality of its cappuccinos. We stopped off here for breakfast and enjoyed relaxing in the squishy sofas while catching up on emails thanks to the free wifi. The coffee was excellent, though there was a rather limited selection of baked goods. By the admission of the guy who served us (the owner I would guess) breakfast isn’t their forté – lunch is where they shine. But the cinnamon roll I had was well-flavoured although I suspect had been baked the previous day, and Chris found his apple cake appetising enough.
The lunch menu, with home–made soup a specialty, did sound tempting so no doubt we’ll be back to try that.
The café has an arty feel. This pictures on the walls are for sale, and it also has various events going on – see the website for details.
Scrumpy Willow and the Singing Kettle: Cosy and quaint
We have spotted this cosy-looking café on previous visits to Newcastle but only recently got round to going inside. It was a chilly wet afternoon and the warm interior was matched by an equally warm welcome from the young waitress. We were in search of hot drinks and were pleased to see a proper espresso machine in evidence. I had a very good mocha – served not too sweet and with good strong coffee as the base. Chris had a cappuccino which also went down very well.
The café has plenty of light and more substantial meals on the menu and I’m sure we’ll go back at some point to sample these. There are a lot of vegetarian and vegan options if you’re looking for these and some good breakfast choices for both meat and non-meat eaters. The lunches sounded promising too but I think from some accounts that they only open till around 7.00 in the evening so this may not be so great a choice for dinner unless you like to eat early. Do check though as I’ve seen 9.00 pm closure mentioned elsewhere.
Da Mimmo’s: Like Mamma makes
A friend recommended this unpretentious family-run Italian restaurant near the football ground. We received a friendly welcome and were offered a drink in the small bar area near the entrance while a table was prepared. Once seated we read through the menu which as well as the usual pizza and pasta dishes had a number of different risottos and some fish and meat dishes including several steaks.
Favorite Dish: To start with I chose one of the day’s specials, a char-grilled camembert with a red onion marmalade. This came on a slice of toasted bread with salad leaves and was rather large so I left most of the bread in order to leave room for my main course! Chris chose the potato skins which came with two sauces (one spicy, one a garlic mayonnaise) and was also a generously sized portion.
For my main course I had one of the risotto dishes, the Fiorentina, which perhaps surprisingly is not with spinach but with wild mushrooms and saffron. It was very nicely cooked to the correct fairly runny consistency and you could really taste the saffron. Chris also enjoyed his prosciutto and mushroom pizza. We were too full for dessert, though these looked good (and included a few rather un-Italian puddings such as apple crumble!)
Prices here are very good value, with our starters costing £3.95 and pizza / pasta / risotto mains starting at £7.95, although of course others, especially the steaks, are dearer. Our bill, which included a couple of bottles of beer, was just £32.
The atmosphere is very homely, with the owner’s young daughter (I assume)running around and the family and some staff sitting down to eat pasta at a nearby table at one point. Some of the waiters can be quite jokey with customers – if you’re looking for formality you should maybe go elsewhere, but if you’ve ever enjoyed a meal at a family restaurant in Italy you will feel right at home here.
Ottoman Turkish Restaurant: Good food, great value
A recent discovery is this smart and very good value Turkish restaurant a stone’s throw from the Central Station. We met up with Chris’s cousin here and had a tasty meal with friendly service – a very pleasant evening.
Favorite Dish: The menu is varied and interesting, with all the Middle Eastern favourites but some dishes I had never heard of. To start with we shared a hot starter platter which included felafel, spicy garlic sausage, grilled haloumi cheese and a couple of different filo pastry parcels. We each chose a different main course – mine, Ali Nasik was really good, with well-flavoured minced lamb chunks on a sauce of yoghurt with aubergine. Our cousin had a similar dish but served on flatbread (Iskender), while Chris had a chicken breast stuffed with cheese, peppers and onions.
Between us we drank five small beers, one glass of red wine, one water and two peppermint teas. Our meals plus all these drinks cost just £62 which is excellent value for a smart and good quality restaurant.
THE UNION ROOMS: CHEAP AND TASTY
The Union Rooms is a Wetherspoons pub/restaurant in Newcastle. Opened as a Wetherspoons in 1999, this beautiful building was once gentlemens club. It is situated opposite the Central train station. The food is the usual Wetherspoons menu. I had Tuna melt and a coke which came to £4.19 as part of the deli meal (Monday – Friday 12-3).
Very good value for money and a really nice atmosphere.
Favorite Dish: TUNA MELT PANINI
The Centurion - Bar, Brasserie & Delicatessen: Perfect Meeting Point at The Railway Station!
I always enjoy having refreshments at Centurion whenever I arrive/depart in/from Newcastle. It's a perfect place for people/trains watching. There is an inside bar/cafe but the conservatory annexe is located inside the station concourse.
*On a future visit to Newcastle I plan to post some pictures of Centurion*
Favorite Dish: I usually order coffee but love their sandwiches/pastries.
- Food and Dining
GREGGS: THE BEST BAKERY IN THE UK
Greggs is a popular bakery located all over the UK.
Greggs started when John Gregg started delivering eggs and yeast to people in Newcastle. John opened a small bakery in 1951. John’s son Ian took over the business when his father died in 1964. Ian expanded the business, opening new shops and bakeries. By the 1970’s Greggs had shops in Scotland and all over Northern England. By 1984 the company was floated on the stockmarket and they had shops in the Midlands, North London and Wales. They now have over 1,600 shops and many more planned across the country.
Some of Greggs favourites are :- sausage rolls, pasties, pizza slices, cream cakes, soup, sandwiches and a whole range of cakes.
Favorite Dish: SAUSAGE ROLL
CHEESE AND ONION PASTY
Dabbawal: Indian street food
The concept behind this Indian restaurant in the centre of Newcastle is “street food” and many of the dishes are served in small portions to share, tapas-style. But there are also plenty of the regular full-size Indian favourites and some more unusual ones too. The décor is modern, looking maybe more like a stylish cocktail bar than an Indian restaurant.
When we visited recently on a mid-week evening we found it pretty full and were lucky to get a table for our party of three. The welcome was friendly and the menu well-explained but we found it hard to make our choices (not helped by the dim lighting where we sat). We were briefly tempted by the £21 per person set “Chef’s surprise” menu, where you take pot luck and are brought a selection of dishes for each course. The family at the next table did just that and seemed to get a good spread for their money, so we might try that another time. But on this occasion we did eventually make our minds up, deciding to share three of the “street food” dishes to start with. Of these, the chicken pakora fritters were excellent, with a light batter and good chilli dipping sauce. The Masala Batada Vada was even better, and my personal favourite – fluffy potato patties and a spicy green sauce. Our third choice was Bhel Puri, described as “Puffed rice tossed in onion and pomegranate in a tangy tamarind and mint sauces” – it had a good flavour but I found it a little dry.
For my main course I chose the Masala Dosa, “stuffed with onion and curry leaf spiced potato, served with vegetables and lentil broth”. This was huge and tasty, though I would have liked more of the vegetable accompaniment perhaps. Chris enjoyed his Murgh Chettinadi Madras, though it was perhaps not as hot as a chicken Madras is normally expected to be, and our cousin also liked her Railway Lamb Curry & Saffron Pulao a lot.
We had also had some poppadoms to nibble on while we waited so our food bill of £54 for three was very reasonable. And even more so when we found that we had been given a 10% discount because of a delay in bringing the main courses (we had queried this but not complained). With several Cobra beers the total was just over £60, and very good value. I think we will be back – maybe to try that “Chef’s Surprise”!
Laus Chinese Buffet: Another visit to China town
All you can eat £6.45 in a restaurant that, so typical of many of this sort across England, is OK for food but has all the glamour of a works canteen. Cheapish tables and chairs and bare walls with plain wooden floors and so nothing to entice you in and there is so much choice in the street.
However the staff were friendly and the head waiter a nice local man and the food was fine. It was quite busy for a summer Monday night and the food on the buffet changed regularly - it was also hot and was well presented - pretty much the standard - noodles, fried rice, boiled rice and then the usual chicken, pork and beef dishes. Sushi as a starter was a nice touch.
Landmark: First visit to China Town
An uninspiring designed restaurant that sits under a multi storey car park and inside is a bland as the outside. There is a bar area as you enter on the right and then a seating area with street views - down a few steps is a very large dining area and on a summer Wednesday night the restaurant was very busy.
Service was amazing and if there is an award for the fastest delivered meal from ordering to delivery to the table Landmark would win - less than 4 minutes.
The food is well presented and on oval plates but you do have to ask for cutlery if like me you cannot use chopsticks. The staff are a mix of English and Chinese and friendly and efficient.#
If anything the portions are on the small side for the price but as I have to test the other restaurant's in China Town I do not know if this size of meal is the norm. You certainly get larger portions in East Yorkshire.
Favorite Dish: I had fried chicken in sweet and sour sauce with fried rice. Beautifully presented but the portion not generous.
Pizza Express: Chain pizza restaurant
OK so its a chain and Pizza Express can be found across the whole of England but I do find myself going back over and over again to the Newcastle restaurant - partly because its near the hotel I use but partly because its good value , has fast service and for a chain a nice ambience,
Food is pretty standard pizza , pasta and salads and its the same in every town but this large restaurant does have an interesting central cooking area and the busy staff do find time to engage with customers occasionally.
The view in to a shopping centre is not particularly great but if you are in Newcastle and want quality food at a good price , look no further than Pizza Express.
Pitcher and Piano: On the Quayside
A national chain pub / restaurant on the quayside looking over to the Baltic and close to the Millennium Bridge.
A very busy place even on a Wednesday night and hardly a seat to be had - long waits at the bar for service but as the staff were making lots of cocktails the reason for the wait was plain to see.
Food was also slow from ordering to delivery to the table and the management really do need to employ more staff. ( I had a long wait at their Birmingham restaurant several weeks ago too).
Food is however imaginative and I had breaded mushrooms and a classic burger with a cola for a cost of just under £17.00 ( June 2013).
Clean and welcoming but rather noisy as the clientele is mainly young.
Little Saigon: shame no credit
I have often passed this place in the Bigg market, and last night sat 23th March decided to pop in, picked the set menu for 2 at £18.50 each plus a bottle of wine, we were the first in and sat in the window at 5:00pm food came quickly 3 starters and rice on one plate which was actually quite good and tasty, 3 mains arrived together, and I hate this as by you get to the second and third they go cold, so in future would order individually, now the rub is, there was as mentioned in previous reviews NO mention of no credit card payments at the start, only on presentation of the bill, again machine is broken, this looks like a popular scam with this place, and a sign should be put in the door stating this fact it is cash only, Any large parties arriving may get caught out.
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
Oak: Good selection of favourites
Some years ago we had a good meal in the previous restaurant to occupy this spot, Oldfields, so recently decided to try its successor. We have been told by a relative who lives locally and knows the owner that this is under the same management, but inside it is completely transformed, with dark wood, coloured lighting and some cosy booths. The menu has a fairly wide selection of favourites including pasta dishes, burgers, steaks, chicken and fish of various sorts.
On this occasion we shared a starter of crispy potato skins with two dips – garlic mayonnaise and barbeque sauce. Both were tasty, and the portion of skins big enough for two of us. For his main course Chris had linguine with spicy meatballs, which he really enjoyed (the Napolitano sauce was especially good) and I had some very good Thai-style fishcakes. These are usually served with chips but the waitress was happy to substitute a mixed salad as I felt the chips would be potato overkill!
With Chris’s bottle of beer and my medium glass of red wine the bill came to a reasonable £31 without service. I would be happy to come back here. There is also a bar area serving cocktails and although fairly quiet on our Saturday lunch-time visit I imagine it could get a lot busier in the evenings.
Oldfields: Good lunch time value
THIS RESTAURANT HAS NOW CHANGED HANDS BUT I'M LEAVING THIS REVIEW AS A RECORD FOR MYSELF.
To read about the new restaurant on this site, check out my review of Oak
Looking for somewhere a little bit special for lunch we came across Oldfields, a relatively new addition to the Newcastle restaurant scene. Located in a Victorian block on the steep hill of Dean Street as it leads down from the city centre to the Quayside, the interior decor has been designed to bring out the best in this oddly shaped building. You enter down a short flight of steps into a circular room with a cosy atmosphere. When we were there this was the only one of the three dining areas in use, but further exploration after our meal revealed the smaller area in front of the pass, and a much larger room at the back. Walls are decorated with some interesting old photos showing the construction of this building in 1904, and I was also fascinated by the original plans that had been framed and hung in the back dining room - do check them out if you come here to eat.
We were warned when we arrived that because a large party (clearly an office outing) had just been seated, there would be a delay in serving us, but if we were happy to wait ten minutes or so they would get to us as soon as possible. Meanwhile we could have a drink at our table, nicely situated against one wall with a view of the rest of the room and its lovely old fireplace. We agreed to this, but our one gripe about the place was that no one then arrived to take our order for said drink so that in the end I had to chase down a waiter to ask for two glasses of wine. But when the wine, a good merlot, did arrive it was accompanied by friendly apologies which were repeated several more times during our meal. And when we came to pay at the end we found that the wine wasn't on our bill and on querying this were told that it was on the house - so all was more than forgiven!
Favorite Dish: At lunch time (and pre-theatre) there is a set menu - £10 for two courses, £15 for three. On studying this I realised that while many of the starters appealed to me I was less enthused by the mains. I asked if I could have two of the former and was told that was indeed possible, and that my "main" course starter would be served in a larger portion. I therefore chose smoked salmon with capers to start with, followed by black pudding on toast with fried egg (which was doubled up as promised). Chris started with the soup of the day, a warming vegetable broth, and then had the potato dumplings with a blue cheese sauce. He enjoyed the soup and accompanying bread, but found the main course a little salty. Overall though we were impressed by our meal and the friendliness of the service, and will be back.
Oldfields prides itself on sourcing all its food locally and the menu is short but appealing, with an emphasis on traditional British dishes such as sausages, braised beef, fish and chips etc. If you like basics done well and with a little flair, this could be the place for you. Throw in the strong sense of history in the old photos and decor, and I think the owners are on to a winner.
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