Take it easy…

Dean Bailey reviews The Bridge Tavern in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Dean Bailey reviews The Bridge Tavern in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Dean Bailey enjoys a proper Sunday lunch at The Bridge Tavern

Far too many pubs have fallen out of love with the proper Sunday roast, and it’s sad to think that there are more piling it high and selling it cheap than there are taking Sunday lunch seriously and making it worth a trip out.

Far too many have abandoned the ‘take a seat, relax, have a pint, and enjoy the atmosphere approach’ in favour of what is best described as the ‘cattle shed formula’. Does anyone actually enjoy being herded into zigzagging queues to stand awkwardly – without a pint – in front of a carvery? I don’t.

So when the chance came to pay a visit to a proper pub – complete with real ale, proper timber, shelves of well-thumbed dusty books, and its own micro brewery no less – there was plenty of competition at appetite HQ.

The pub, The Bridge Tavern on Newcastle’s Quayside, was a pioneer in the city’s real ale revolution and continues to be a destination for real ale lovers, with hand pulls from Wylam Brewery alongside world beers and a myriad of guest brews from around the UK. With beer this good, the food has plenty to live up to, and the sharing boards are excellent, as are hearty pub dishes like mussels, cider and leeks, and the haggis toastie.

It’s also a great spot on a Sunday afternoon and perfectly placed when you’ve eaten too much and are in need of a walk along the river; a walk, which on our visit, turned out to be absolutely necessary, thanks in the main to the fantastic roast beef.

Served rare (tell them if you want it well done – I wasn’t asked) it was tender and packed with flavour, as was the gravy, which I’d have been happy to finish off with a slice of bread.

The pork was excellent and the crackling looked, and sounded, amazing. I was informed later that it tasted good too, but I wasn’t fast enough to try some for myself.

A shock to the system, having sampled numerous disappointing Sunday roasts recently, the vegetables – of which there were plenty – were fantastic. Having said that, it was the fourth time in just a few weeks that I’ve been puzzled to be served a solitary carrot with a main course. Have I missed a new trend here?

The ultimate test of a Sunday roast is the Yorkshire pud, obviously, and these were just right – thick enough to still be a pudding, yet light enough to allow you to move having eaten one.

The desserts – a chocolate brownie sundae and an apple crumble – were shared to avoid argument. The crumble was the star – tart with a vanilla-packed custard. Two lunches, two puddings, a pint of award-winning Wylam ale and a Coke came in at just over £40 and yes, a walk and a comfortable settee afterwards were absolutely necessary. That’s what I call a proper Sunday afternoon.

The Bridge Tavern, Akenside Hill, Newcastle, NE1 3UF, tel 0191 261 9966, www.thebridgetavern.com

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