Dean Bailey visits the new home of Papa Ganoush in Whitley Bay
The vibrant and always brilliant street food of Papa Ganoush is one of the tastes of summer – whether on the Quayside in Newcastle or at the best food festivals. Now father and son team Tim and Tom Monkhouse have their own place in Whitley Bay where we can take a break from grey skies whenever we feel like it and indulge in the flavours and aromas of sunny festival days.
The one worry when a brilliant street food provider like this takes the big step of opening a full-time place is whether the X factor that makes them the go-to at every summer festival has disappeared. I’m relieved to report that has not ocurred here, where you’re transported instantly back to lazy festival days, this time with tables and chairs.
Everything about the new home of Papa Ganoush, above another restaurant on Park View in Whitley Bay, is simple. The signage is understated, brightly coloured offcuts from doors create wall coverings in the bar, the tables and chairs have been gathered from houses and gardens and the bar is a cobbled together collection of bottles and cans. As I say, perfectly simple, and a perfect partner for the eastern Mediterranean flavours on the menu.
Every dish delivers a punch, from merguez cutlets – lamb laced with black pepper, ginger and smoked paprika with a sweet pomegranate glaze – to pork souvlaki, which melts in the mouth and wakes you right back up with a kick of chilli and garlic.
There are just 14 items on the mezze menu – we tried half of them between two of us – and we can recommend the chicken shawarma for its spicy heat, while the panko halloumi offered up a clever mix of taste and texture alongside turmeric potatoes and spiced fries. A table of four with hearty appetites could take one of everything on the menu, grazing and sharing, just as food like this should be. Us? We’re going back soon for the rest of the menu.