Ever fancied dining on a rooftop? Feasting in a tower? Scranning on a barge? If you love the sound of fine dining in weird and wonderful places then I need to tell you about The Experimental Diner.
From the team behind Newcastle in the Sky (remember that amazing looking dining table that was suspended above the Sage in Gateshead?), The Experimental Diner promises unique dining experiences in the North East with some of the region's best chefs. They have plenty of ideas hidden up their sleeves and booking yourself an Experimental Dining experience is a must for any North East foodie.
The Experimental Diner launched last week with a one-off experience hosted by Dave Coulson's restaurant, Peace and Loaf at Alderman Fenwick's House, one of the oldest buildings in the centre of Newcastle. I was lucky enough to be one of only 20 people to experience this unique night of dining.
By 1962 it looked like Alderman Fenwick's House would be pulled down and lost forever to new development until it was rescued in 1982 and restored. Now run by the Tyne and Wear Preservation Trust, you can only access Alderman Fenwick's House by appointment, unless of course you were one of the lucky few at The Experimental Diner launch.
I felt thrilled to step foot inside Alderman Fenwick's House, there's something so special about getting to explore somewhere that many other people in Newcastle haven't discovered.
The evening began with a drinks reception where we were greeted by the events team before mingling with our fellow diners on the roof of the building. Although we couldn't quite see the Tyne Bridge from the top of Alderman Fenwick's House, it was still pretty special getting to stand on a roof top that very few get to enjoy.
Once our glasses of fizz were emptied we made our way back down the beautiful staircase and into our room for dinner. There were some audible gasps as we were shown to our seats. I don't think any of us were expecting the beautiful light green panelling in the room or the stunning ceiling dating back to 1660.
With 20 of us at the event we all gathered round one large dining table, beautifully decked out in white table cloths and fresh flowers. I love this style of dining as it's always a treat to be able to chat to new people through the evening.
The Experimental Diner was a wonderfully intimate affair with our hosting chefs for the evening, Junior Sous Chefs Simon Whitehead and Hugo Embleton-Black from Peace & Loaf, preparing some of the dishes in front of us. It's not often you get the opportunity to chat to chefs whilst they are working but we were encouraged to ask the pair any questions that we had and they happily answered and gave us a little insight into what it's like working at Peace and Loaf.
The Experimental Diner Menu was available on the website before the evening but there were plenty of unexpected treats on the night with a few extra surprise courses and appetisers including this stunning slate of treats. Smearing whipped beef dripping all over the homemade bread (which I was very pleased to learn is served daily at Peace and Loaf!) was absolute heaven.
Between courses we learnt more about Alderman Fenwick's House from The Tyne and Wear Preservation Trust who were on hand to answer all of our questions about the beautiful building. Our enthusiastic guide passed us some fascinating artefacts down the table to look at and gave us a brief history of the building and the room we were sitting in. I'm very romantic and sentimental about Newcastle and hearing the stories from Alderman Fenwick's House gave me goosebumps!
For the main course we enjoyed Beef Hanger, Pearl Barley, Wild Rice, Leeks. Beautifully rich, tender pink meat and packed full of flavour. This was my favourite dish of the night and had me wondering why on earth I've not made it to Peace and Loaf for food yet?
Our talented chefs were cooking in very strange circumstances but they certainly loved the challenge. When they weren't preparing food in front of diners they were busy creating their menu on a tiny stove in a back room of the house. Not exactly the kitchens of Peace and Loaf that they are used to. I quite often grumble about trying to make food in the tiny kitchen at my home, but these guys put me to shame. I can't believe they created such fantastic food with so little space.
Our evening ended with a chocolate wheel sitting on a beautiful parfait sprinkled with popping candy. A happy tummy and a slightly fuzzy head after all that wine I was feeling on top of the world by this point.
What an end to the evening!
The Experimental Diner evening at Alderman Fenwick's House cost £70 for a ticket which included a drinks reception, a four course meal with wine and after dinner drinks. It offered fantastic value for money and I was so happy to have the opportunity to eat such delicious food in such a beautiful location.
The next event is yet to be announced and I'm desperate to discover the next location and chefs. I tried my hardest to get it out of the team last week but they refused to tell me! So for now it's a waiting game, I suggest we all keep an eye on the Experimental Diner website and Facebook page to be first to hear about their next event. Something tells me it'll sell out fast!
I was a very lucky to be invited to the Press Table at the Experimental Diner for a complimentary evening. All words and opinions are my own and I definitely plan to purchase a ticket to a future event!