The Sausage Emporium


It may star the simple sausage, but inventiveness is mixed into every serving at a new restaurant dedicated to it, discovers Alastair Gilmour

It was the novelist, playwright and sometime member of parliament AP Herbert who said: “A highbrow is someone who looks at a sausage and thinks of Picasso”.

We like his drift, albeit rather slickly put, but it came to mind with a trio of deliciously deep red, beetroot-infused, pulses-packed, spicy vegetarian sausages presented at Little Laughing Gravy’s Sausage Emporium.

If not quite recognisable as a work of art, our plateful all the same displayed elements of surrealism, romanticism and modernism – while leaving a favourable impressionism.


The bright and breezy restaurant that occupies glazed railway arches on Westgate Road, Newcastle, is more than doing its bit to raise the profile of the sausage into a virtual art form. John and Briony Holliday opened the restaurant just before Christmas and already the couple have experienced their hopes and dreams blossoming into a favoured place for city folks to eat, drink and hang loose.

The Sausage Emporium covers two floors with the mezzanine taking full advantage of an arched ceiling while its two rows of tables cleverly achieve a degree of intimacy. Here, the chairs were salvaged from a pub closure and revitalised with bonny-coloured paint; the tables have invention built into them, as do the solid timber benches.

“They were made by my dad who’s been collecting wood for a number years knowing it’ll come in handy,” says Briony.

Straight to the sausage, though. Giant hot dog with sauerkraut, gherkin fritters and bratkartoffel – sliced potato fried with bacon and onion (£10.99) – is the daddy of the species. Now, we have to mention that John Holliday is a chef and trained butcher, earning his apron stripes in his father’s butcher shop in Pelaw, Gateshead – a business that’s been in the family for generations. (Dads, it seems, come in handy.) In between times he moved around the country heading up the kitchen operations for the Pitcher & Piano chain and worked at the Fisherman’s Wharf and Vermont Hotel in Newcastle as well as being an integral ingredient in the late Heartbreak Soup café on Newcastle Quayside.

Now John is concocting sizzling Thai sausage, triple chilli sausage, Wylam ale sausage, black pudding sausage, tomato Provençal and halloumi sausage (all £9.95) – all conceived, mixed and filled on the premises with meat from the family firm. The variety of combinations impresses in its inventiveness. It’s fusion, cross-cultural, mix and match, call it what you will, but it’s certainly working.


And it’s not all sausage; pulled pork with avocado lime salsa is proving a popular starter, as is twice-baked cheese soufflé (both £4.50). There are oysters too in a choice of styles (£1.80 each) – then there’s home-made brown sauce. With its molasses depth, piquant palate and latent sweetness it’s tasty enough to spoon on its own.

On the restaurant ground floor – featuring Wylam Gold Tankard, European bottled beers and a fine range of world wines – the huge open kitchen and prep area attract regular diners who like to pull up a stool and chat to the staff.

Customers are dropping off knick-knacks to decorate the place, such as the lovely illustration of a wire-haired dachshund, the double of John and Briony’s resident pooch Hannah.

The Laughing Gravy prefix refers to a Laurel & Hardy film where the plot revolves around the hapless duo attempting to conceal a dog from their landlord. Not that this has any relevance here, but some might wonder.

The Sausage Emporium is quirky and smart, it’s friendly and relaxed. Now look at a sausage and think of futurism.

Little Laughing Gravy’s Sausage Emporium, Arch 6, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SA, tel 0191 340 3082,

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