Laura’s travels have taken her in and out of Toon this month. Here’s more…


It’s been a busy few weeks, what with birthdays, launch events and other celebrations, and there’s been a lot of eating out for this girl about Toon. It’s a hard life, but! 

If you’re a foodie you’ll be like a kid in a sweet shop with the shiny new Food Hall in Fenwick. Our first foray was a light supper at the Seafood and Oyster Bar, run by the Saltwater Fish Co. The array of dishes on offer is great – everything’s super-fresh and locally sourced as far as possible.

The tuna tartare was to die for, as was the mixed seafood grill, and the deserts were top-drawer to boot! A quick bite to eat in Fuego one lunchtime was a real treat with its hand-stretched pizzas, excellent tapas and extensive wine list, and we were transported back to our summer holiday in a flash. Also at Fenwick, if you’re a curry lover, a visit to Rafi’s Spicebox is a must. Get a curry paste of your choice made fresh for you on the spot, which lasts a month in the fridge and is absolutely delicious.

Meanwhile, The Bank in Low Fell, Gateshead has relaunched with a new look, which reminds me of neighbourhood bars in Manhattan. The Bank specialises in steak and you can choose from eight cuts, all with a traditional garnish of grilled tomato, Portobello mushroom, onion rings and fries. I tried three (yes, three!) and they were to die for, while other options include all the pub classics and then some. The Sunday brunch menu also looks a treat.

When it comes to traditional fayre, it’s not often that I find a Sunday roast in a restaurant or pub that’s as good as one cooked at home, but a recent trip to Finbarr’s in Durham was spot-on. If you’ve not been – on any day of the week – you absolutely must! An excellent menu, superb staff and wonderful wine selection makes it a total winner.

Another great place for a roast is The Feathers Inn at Hedley-on-the-Hill, Stocksfield. Owners Rhian and Helen Cradock recently had a pop-up at my fellow appetite columnist Anna Hedworth’s excellent Cook House in Ouseburn, Newcastle.

A five-course game dinner was served, with welcome drinks and a demonstration of game preparation techniques, which was fascinating, especially as at the time I had several pheasants hanging in the garage. The menu included scrumptious grouse pies with chestnuts, and a feather and fur game terrine with pickled quince, air-dried pigeon and bottled damsons. The Cook House has a regular roster of pop-up events and I recommend you join their mailing list – the events always sell out fast.

For Latin lovers, the newly opened ¡Vamos! Social on the corner of Market Street and John Dobson Street in Newcastle is a must-visit – offering a great selection of cocktails and simple Latin fayre like bocadillos, meat platters and other sharing options. Watch this space for a series of offbeat events at the venue, and in the meantime, Feliz Navidad!

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