Dean Bailey visits Träkol, Newcastle
The Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides feature some properly interesting restaurants, cafés and pop-ups; great food experiences and stunning locations which make the banks of the Tyne very special.
Träkol, under the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side of the river, is very much your modern restaurant experience. For a start, the location is stunning and we spend our evening here watching the sun set between the bridges.
There is theatre too, with full-width windows to the kitchen revealing the stars of the menu hanging above charcoal fires which inspire the name (Träkol is ‘wood charcoal’ in Swedish).
The food suits the unfussy space – nose-to-tail open-fire cooking sitting with a stripped-back shipping container.
The laid-back feel continues throughout the By The River Brewing Co set up. The micro-brewery adjoins the restaurant, while the site also features the Backyard Bike Shop (a repair shop serving brunch, lunch, coffee and cocktails), and a street food market home to the likes of Dabbawal, Papa Ganoush and more, all housed in shipping containers too.
The microbrewery is front and centre and the beers on the menu include a black cherry chocolate stout and a Gateshead brown ale alongside guest beers from the likes of Northern Monk, The Kernel and Wild Beer Co.
The food is simple in its menu form – descriptions like Monkfish, Iberico Ham, Roasted Peppers & PX; 400g Aged Sirloin, Smoked Bone Marrow & Fries don’t give too much away on paper, but deliver far more on the plate. The beef is aged here, in a room lined with Himalayan salt, and the charcoal comes from chestnut and cox’s apple trees, which adds sweetness to the smoke and charring.
Our sirloin is lifted further by the intensity of smoked marrow spooned over it, while our monkfish is lightly charred, the flesh allowed to shine through the peppers and Pedro Ximénez sherry vinegar. It’s also worth mentioning the huge bowl of salty fries which accompany the steak, and the Jersey Royals, which get a bit of a charring over the coals before being smashed and doused in butter to create one of the finest side orders ever.
Desserts take the form of a pretty construction of pink rhubarb, vivid green pistachio cream and filo pastry, and a complex combo of wood-fired pear, honeycomb cream and salted caramel sauce.
There is plenty we’ll be back for – the 1kg T Bone from the feasting section sounds like a must-try, while the Middle White Pig, ½ Roast Head, 1kg Chop, Black Pudding, Caramelised Apples, Watercress & Grilled Potatoes is the open-fire cooking of our dreams.
It’s all very on-trend at Träkol, but the cooking stands up to it all and is able to shine through – a wonderful example of the city’s modern food.
Two courses, sides and drinks, is just under £80 – and you get the view for free.
Träkol, By The River Brew Co, Hillgate Quays Gateshead, NE8 2BH
tel 0191 737 1120