Sunday, 6 November 2011

Blackfriars, Newcastle

Blythe's Verdict
As a lunchtime treat on our little trip to Newcastle, to bathe in the glorious majesty that is Britney Spears' effulgent splendour, we popped along to Blackfriars, which boasts the UK's oldest dining room. It showcases local produce from the region, and if you ask nicely they'll even stretch to a mead-fuelled banquet in monastic and comely wench gear (although for that, you apparently need to bring your own spoon!).

The place is tucked neatly away, strangely enough just on the edge of Newcastle's Chinatown. It's probably not the kind of spot where you'd expect to meet four revellers fuelling-up for a Britney gig, but we were probably not your typical Spears devotees (they were already queuing outside the Metro Radio Arena, as we sat down to lunch).

Friendly waitresses welcomed us to the dining area that radiated medieval chic from every carefully turned stonework arch. And if we thought we'd escaped the tendrils of TFGE's topic of the month, 'from the tree', we were wrong, as an ancient looking item was growing in the very restaurant, clutched to a corner for dear life.

The lunch menu showed an attractive looking lunch deal, with two courses available for £12, from a generous selection of freshly prepared dishes.

In a rare aberration, I was tempted away from my usual furrow, opting to start with the black-pudding topped with a poached egg, served with brown sauce.

Soup wasn't far away, though, as Milo opted for the spiced parsnip soup. I had a little taste and it had a real depth of flavour, was rich and dark, indicating real good carmelisation from roasting the parsnips, and was quite unlike your usual version of this classic soup.

My starter was excellent. The generous slab of home-produced black pudding was expertly prepared. The poached egg offered just the right amount of goo to moisten the dish, with the fruity notes of the brown sauce adding a tidy little finish. The micro-herb coriander made the dish look very pretty, but lead it off towards a powerfully divergent vignette, so perhaps could have been replaced with something equally pretty, but a touch more subtle.

MJ's smoked salmon starter was good, although the texture was a little unusual.

The risotto looked good and tasted good.

I was hung-up on whether to go for the steak or the shepherd's pie, but our waitress steered me towards the latter. It was an excellent piece of guidance. Delving through the potato topping revealed beautifully tender pieces of lamb, with nuggets of sweet carrot. It really was first class.

The accompanying vegetables were simply prepared, but beautifully fresh. The ingredients could be allowed to speak for themselves, and they eloquently did so.

The fish and chips, sampled by Hannah and Milo, looked very good. MJ enjoyed her main course portion of the risotto, too.

We were pretty full after that, but we contemplated the desserts, momentarily. We opted for coffees to round out what had been an enjoyable introduction to Newcastle's dining scene.

Overall, I was impressed by Blackfriars. It has translated the impulse towards showcasing local ingredients into an excellent and varied menu, offering good hearty fare. The setting is something rather special, too. I'd recommend you pay it a visit, next time you're in the neighbourhood.


Blythe scores Blackfriars:
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
3/5 for service
Giving an overall 14/20

MJ scores Blackfriars:
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
3/5 for service
Giving an overall 13/20

Today's Lunch Questers were: Miriam, Hannah, Milo, Blythe

We wore: pony bling, tweed, ninja badge, all-purpose clubbing footwear.

We ate: spiced parsnip soup, risotto (starter portion), black pudding, smoked salmon, risotto (main course portion), fish and chips (x2), shepherd's pie

We drank: Pilsner Urquell, water, coffees

Total bill: c.£70


  1. ooh I've been there, it was very good. My blog post is <a href=">HERE</a> photos are not brilliant it was before I got my DSLR!

  2. Thanks, Janice. We enjoyed it muchly. Really enjoyed your post, too :-)