*I received a complimentary tour from Triple A Food Tours in return for an honest review
I’ve lived in the North East since I was 10 and been eating out in Newcastle for at least the last 25 years. When Dave and I first got together in 2004, meal out choices were limited, there was that nice Italians in the Bigg Market, that nice Italians near the Theatre Royal and that nice Italians down on the Quayside (if it was a special occasion). Thankfully though things have changed since the dark ages of 2004 and there are now loads of lovely, varied, independent restaurants all over town to suit all pockets and taste buds.
And therein lies the beauty of Triple A Food tours; you get to try out 5 of these cool places, all in one day, accompanied by the lovely Amy, who gives you a little bit of information about where you’re eating, and some history about what you see along the way.
We met at Greys Monument at 1pm and our perfectly formed group of six headed over to the Grainger Market for our first stop which was Snackwallah; serving delicious vegan Indian street food Now, normally the word vegan in front of anything would put me off straight away out of principle alone, but the pani puri we tried was so unbelievably flavourful, the absence of meat wasn’t an issue for me. It was great meeting the owner too and hearing him talk so passionately about his food. Spice wise they were just right for me, a nice little kick without it blowing your head off. The perfect little stop off for lunch if you’re out shopping.
Sometimes the tour includes a second stop in the Grainger Market to try some fresh Lindesfarne Oysters but due to current COVID-19 restrictions they’re not allowed to be sold so that wasn’t available on this occasion *sad face* I do love me an oyster.
Next was off up to Blackfriars which is a bit of a family favourite of ours, we have been to one of their Medieval banquets (where my brother infamously mistook a request for his scraps as an offer to him to eat everyone else’s – wally) and both my Dad and Dave have done, or will be attending their culinary schools. On the tour we had a starter of orange-cured salmon, pickled cucumber, dill mayonnaise and sourdough croutons paired with a glass of the house white wine at a table in the sunshine, and *chefs kiss* it was perfection. I know not everyone likes seafood, especially uncooked, but the fact the salmon was orange-cured, meant it wasn’t overly smokey so was very smooth tasting.
Blackfriars occupies quite a large space in the city centre, so much so, that once you’re there it’s almost hard to believe you’re so close to Debenhams! You’re almost literally transported to another world and I think that all adds to the special experience that visiting brings. They also own Dobson and Parnell on the Quayside and Hinnies in Whitley Bay, neither of which we’ve tried yet but are all on the list!
Back down through town again and all the way down Grey Street to Dean street and stop number 3; Kaltur. Now, I’ve seen a lot of buzz about this place online but 1. had no idea where it was located and 2. definitely had no idea how bloody amazing it is!
We had a charcuterie board which contained a selection of Spanish meats, the stars of which were undoubtedly the smooth chorizo (kind of like a pate) and the smoked beef (really amazing flavour that I can’t really put my finger on) but it’s worth knowing that beef is not my favourite meat of all the meats, and this was the standout for me! These were followed by traditional ham and cheese croquettes, which melt in the mouth. All washed down with some white wine sangria; because if there’s fruit in it, it’s healthy right?!
I really loved the vibe in Kaltur which is really bright and authentically Spanish. It’s like no where else in Newcastle and really felt me we were abroad for 45 minutes! I think this was probably my favourite of the day, and certainly the one place I’m really keen to go back to for a full meal, if only I had a birthday the last week in July *shrug emoji*
Round the corner and up to castle keep it was along to The French Quarter which again is somewhere we’ve been before (and very much enjoyed) where we got to try some amazing cheeses from their selection, and if anyone knows cheese it’s the French! I think the stand out for me was the Roquefort, I mean, who doesn’t blue a good blue? And this was really creamy and flavourful, without being too strong.
The French Quarter is actually right next door to one of our favourite pubs, the Split Chimp and everything along that little stretch always really impresses me with what they do with their space. The French Quarter is no different; they have lots of space for such a small area which makes for a really quaint, intimate dining experience.
Finally it was on to the Vermont hotel for pudding and a glass of posecco which rounded off the day nicely with glorious views of the Tyne Bridge.
Pudding was a rhubarb creme brulee, which is never something I would order from a menu, however was really tasty, the sugar crunch on the top was just perfect and they custard was more creamy than custardy. Top marks from this chocolate obsessed philistine!
I guess for me the only downside of our visit to the Vermont was that the weather was so perfect that day and knowing that it has that gorgeous roof terrace with spectacular views of the city, it would have been nice to sit there rather than in the dining room which wasn’t very busy and a little quiet. But I guess with the weather being as nice as it was, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were fully booked.
What was an unexpected highlight of the tour for me was that because of the current COVID-19 restrictions and our little team of six, it was a bonus the group was small enough to be able to get to know some new people and share such a lovely experience with.
The Taste of Newcastle tour is £59 per person which I actually think is exceptional value for what you get, even in the drinks alone which are all generous sizes (sometimes if you’re just getting a ‘taste’ of something, that includes only a ‘taste’ of the drinks too!). For anyone with mobility issues I don’t think there’s too much to worry about as it’s an extremely leisurely pace and there’s very little up hill walking. The whole tour lasts about 3 hours and I was slightly worried we would feel rushed but it’s the ideal amount of time in each place.
Triple A Food Tours is headed up by Amy, who was a fantastic guide and is really knowledgeable about the city. We were all fairly local on the tour so I imagine if someone out of town was on the tour they may like a bit more information about the city. Amy is definitely the guide for you, I’d be confident she could answer most if not any questions that might pop up!
As well as the Taste of Newcastle tour there’s also an Ultimate Cheese & Wine tour, and Ouseburn Food Tour and A Northumbrian Coastline Food Tour. All details are available on the via the Triple A Food Tours website, Facebook or Instagram pages.