While Newcastle may not be known for its food, with this one restaurant, it should be. The last thing I imagined when I came to the county of pies and Newcastle brown beer was that there could be really great food here, including seafood. Unfortunately, England is largely divided when it comes to really good food, with Michelin-starred restaurants like Five Fields mostly based in London. With higher rents in the capital, many great restaurants and amazing chefs are spreading outward and taking their business to the other parts of England. It is unusual to see that the ‘Masterchef: The Professionals’ finalist, Danny Parker, chose to be the head chef of a restaurant in Newcastle. The restaurant is owned and managed by Kenny Atkinson who has had extensive chef experience and has previously won Michelin stars at St-Martin-on the Isle and The White Room. So trust me when I say that these are some very talented people making the food!
The House of Tides restaurant is placed in a restored Grade I 16th-century merchant house, just one of the few on the same street near the river. This beautiful building sets an amazing first impression when coming from the Newcastle Central Station by foot (it’s only 8mins away) or by car from the front.
Image: Google Maps
I recently visited the restaurant myself with my partner for an early dinner, and I was not disappointed with the menu, which changes seasonally. Beginning with cocktails and canapés in the downstairs area, the menu and the guests then head upstairs to continue their meal with wine, the main courses, cheese and then dessert and coffees. They also provide a vegetarian menu, so everyone is accommodated for. If you like unusual cocktails, their elderflower and gin cocktail is lovely and herbal as a great palette cleanser to go with the small dishes at the beginning. For the small plates, we had pastry-covered pieces of fish, truffle and onion wafers with a delicious creamy sauce, carrot macarons and roasted and pan-fried duck hearts. The bites were easy to eat and small, but the perfect way to taste some excellent British ingredients inspired by the coastal area.
Elderflower cocktail to start…
Croquant duck hearts and the carrot macarons
Mackerel in pastry and the truffle crackers with a delicate cream
Moving upstairs we were the first ones in the restaurant, so we got a cosy corner table right next to the window (perfect for photos!), where we were given the wine we had chosen earlier and some awesome sourdough rye bread with cultured butter.
Sourdough with cultured butter
Honestly, I would have come here for the bread alone as the rye bread was so good! The next dish was the Lindisfarne oyster with cucumber, ginger and caviar which was really delicious and only one mouthful. The oyster was perfectly fresh and slightly briny, getting a great taste of the sea. Following this swiftly (after we had marvelled at the amazing oyster) we came to the plate with crab and pickled apples and dill. This didn’t overpower with the aniseed flavour and was light and fruity, pairing well with the smooth and delicate crab meat.
Lindisfarne oyster with cucumber, ginger and caviar
Crab with pickled apples, orange segments and dill
The next two dishes were the meatier ones, and they stood out in particular to me as the attention given to the ingredients like the sea bass and the mussels in the first dish really made them stand out. I had yet to taste really good seafood in England which wasn’t a bit dry and sometimes sandy, but these items were lovely and soft, with the sea bass having a great crust on the surface. The combined dish of the asparagus, light jus, sea bass and mussels paired with the mushroom ketchup felt like you were eating a light, spring version of these steamed nuggets of gold.
The main meat dish was composed of two different lamb cuts: the meat (possibly loin?) and the belly, which I have never seen served before. Both were beautifully tender and sweet, with the maitake mushroom, lovage, sauce and charred broccoli all accentuating the soft meat. The flavour of the mushroom and the light herbal aniseed taste of the lovage really paired very well.
Sea bass, asparagus and mussels in a light sauce with mushroom ketchup
Lamb meat with charred broccoli, maitake mushroom and lovage
After feeling pleasantly full after such brilliant dishes, it was time for dessert. While most fruits do not come into season until much later in the year, gariguette strawberries are one of the first to appear, with a pleasant fragrance and sweetness. These were soaked in a syrup and accentuated with curry leaf, some cream and a thin meringue on top. This was the only part of the whole menu which wasn’t as impressive for me- the curry leaf flavour is almost too subtle to miss and the strawberries and meringue were a little too sweet by themselves.As someone with a particularly sweet tooth, I was happy to see that there were actually two desserts on the menu, with the second arriving with some pomp to our table. The gold-leaf-covered chocolate mousse/cake with hazelnut ice cream was moreish and brilliant, with the hazelnut becoming almost light instead of Nutella-heavy. I really enjoyed this one as the chocolate used for the cake was perfect and dark.
This may be going far, but is this made of tiny polished seashells?
Gariguette strawberries with meringue and curry leaf
Dark chocolate mousse/cake with hazelnut ice cream
This ultimately ended our course meal, and we were welcomed to get a coffee. We ordered a latte and americano and enjoyed the buzz of the dining room which had filled up with diners who were all a little staggered in the course menu we had all eaten. With our coffees, we received a lovely chocolate each with peanut butter and caramel, with a thick chocolate coating and a melting middle.
The chocolate, peanut butter and caramel marvels
This was truly an incredible experience, with emphasis on the amazing seafood and lamb dish, which are a must-try. I found that the restaurant is pleasantly empty in the early dinner service, so if you prefer a bit of peace and quiet then book for one of the early slots. It is so great to see such a flourishing Michelin restaurant in the centre of Newcastle, and I am sure this is not my last visit.If you have visited the House of Tides or if you would like to, I would love to answer any questions you might have in the comments below!