Our Girl About Toon checks out some new places…

Christmas is coming and this Girl About Toon has been busy in the kitchen making mince pies, Christmas cake and festive chutney. But when I haven’t been slaving away over a hot stove I’ve been trying out the plethora of new restaurants that have sprung up across the Toon – and visiting a few old favourites, too. 

sausagesTwo new places have sprung up in the arches on Westgate Road, both offering something genuinely different. We’ve just tried the Sausage Emporium and delighted in the gluten-free sausages handmade by butcher-turned-chef, John. The real ale sausages served with creamy mash and seasonal greens were divine and we were particularly taken with Hannah the sausage dog – restaurant pet.

The Herb Garden is just a few arches along and its interior really has the wow factor. From the giant horse on roller skates that greets you on entry to the quirky lighting, décor and herb garden that grows from floor to ceiling in the huge warehouse space, it’s totally unique. The menu of clay-fired pizzas and delicious vegetarian options is an absolute cracker.

I love an open kitchen, and the relatively new Japanese restaurant Osaka on Grey Street allows diners to peak into the kitchen space while chowing down on delectable sushi and other Japanese dishes.

While there are so many new places springing up, there are times you can’t beat an old favourite and Uno’s Trattoria down on the Quayside hits the spot every time. It always feels so Christmassy at this time of year; the fab festive décor and great old-time ratpack tunes, coupled with the buzzing atmosphere and fun staff, gives it a great celebratory vibe.

We had a big family meal there recently and I went for some of the new menu dishes of aubergine parmigiana di melanzane to start and a skinny option of penne Lucy. Who’d have thought that you could enjoy delicious Italian pizza and pasta dishes and still be less than 500 calories? It’ll be a great one for when the January diet kicks in.

While not strictly a new restaurant, The Bank on Low Fell has a new manager and chef and we were invited along to try out the new menu.

With new favourites added to the menu of pie and mash, sausage and mash and fish and chips, plus more fancy options of pork belly served with a ham hock croquette and pickled apple purée, there’s something for everyone. The pear tarte tatin was a treat, too. The cocktails at The Bank are fantastic – one of these days I’ll make my way through the entire list.

Eslington Villa, also in Low Fell, is another firm favourite that’s right on my doorstep; the lounge feels like a home from home and the staff are so friendly and attentive – plus the wonderful ever-changing seasonal menu never fails to impress.

How lucky we are to have such a vibrant restaurant scene on our doorstep. One of these days I’ll get around to eating in all of them but with new places constantly popping up, it’s going to be a challenge.

FigChutneyLaura’s festive fig chutney

8 large figs (green or ripe purple)
4 fresh or dried apricots
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1tsp each salt, whole allspice, coriander seeds
½ tsp cracked black peppercorns
150ml each malt vinegar and cider vinegar
250g light muscovado sugar
2 jam jars, sterilised

Cut the figs into chunks, discarding stalks. Stone and rough chop apricots. Put the fruit in a
preserving pan with all the ingredients except the sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally until the onion is tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves, then bring to the boil slowly over a low heat for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally. The chutney is ready when a wooden spoon drawn through it makes a clear path on the bottom of the pan. Pour into jars while hot. It keeps for three months.

Sign up to our news
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us.