Saturday 10 August 2013

Restaurant Week

The last year I spent in London, my head and heart were very much in the North East and I watched with jealousy as Newcastle enjoyed two Restaurant Weeks without me.  Planning out our lives so far in advance due to needing cheap train tickets I missed both weeks and it was very sad!   So, as you can imagine, since moving I have been stupidly excited about finally getting to enjoy Restaurant Week, it's been a long time coming.

For those who don't know, Restaurant Week is a promotion run by NE1 twice a year, with the loveliest restaurants around the city offering special menus at a bargain price (usually 2 courses for £10 or 3 courses for £15).  The idea is to try somewhere new.  For me this wasn't hard, having only just moved to the city my list of places I want to try is pretty long.   My only problem was trying to decide which two restaurants to head to, I would have happily dined out every night of the week, but with our holiday only a month away I was worried too many meals out might leave me struggling to fit into my swimsuit. 

Our first choice was Popolo on Tuesday.  Popolo is a lovely little bar and restaurant on Pilgrim Street which has a bit of an American feel to it but offers a nice variety of food.  On arrival I enjoyed a cocktail for only £3.95 as part of their happy hour promotion and then we moved into the restaurant to sample the two courses for £10 Restaurant Week menu.  The food all sounded delicious but we finally managed to make a choice, I had Goat’s Cheese Carasau followed by Crab Ravioli  which was unfortunately a bit too spicy for me so I cheekily swapped with Simon and stole his Paella-style ‘Risotto’ which was gorgeous.   Popolo is definitely somewhere we will head back to again, we've already decided that we need to sample some more of the cocktail menu. 

Yesterday we opted for Blackfriars which is somewhere I have been wanting to try for such a long time and it did not disappoint.  How would it be possible to not enjoy an award winning restaurant housed in a Dominican friary dating back to 1239?  The building was even more beautiful than I imagined, I wanted to photograph everything from the stone floor  to the gorgeous wooden chairs and this was before the food had even arrived.   

The Restaurant Week offer was 3 courses for £15 and I spent quite a large part of my week studying it and trying to decide what to have.  In the end I decided on ham hock terrine with homemade piccalilli as my first course.  Amazingly for me I managed to hold onto my fresh bread from the bread basket and it was the perfect accompaniment to a delicious starter.   I followed this with battered North Sea fish and hand cut chips which was served with the most amazing peas I have ever had.  It may sound a little daft to get excited about peas, but I actually had to stop myself from dancing around the restaurant telling everyone about how tasty the peas were.  WOW!  For me the dessert was an easy choice, being obsessed with cherries and almonds the cherry bakewell cheesecake with liquid almond icing had my name all over it and it did not disappoint.  I have to say Blackfriars deserves all of its awards, it was the nicest food I have ever had and the thought of another visit makes me giddy.   The food is all locally sourced and the tablemats are maps of North England showing the best places for walks, pubs and food.  It's so interesting to see all the areas Blackfriars get their food from and it really shows how much the North has to offer. 

I hear whispers that some of the Restaurant Week offers have been extended to next week so make sure you join the party before it's late.  Full details can be found here.

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