Hotel Du Vin’s new Bistro

‘Seafood was always my favorite food. I mean, lobster? Come on!’ – Adrian Peterson

If being a July birthday has taught me anything (and it hasn’t) it’s that dare to utter the word ‘barbeque’ and it’s guaranteed to rain. I swear every time I try and arrange a birthday cookout we end up popping bubbly in the conservatory and grilling all the meat in the oven.

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So imagine my delight when the day of Hotel Du Vin’s summer barbeque and launch of their new bistro, the weather gods were obviously looking favourably upon me for a change and the sun made a very welcome appearance!

Hotel Du Vin has always been one of those places that have been on my radar to visit for a lifetime but for one reason or another have never quite made it. The Ouseburn area has always been a favourite of mine; close enough to be walking distance from the Quayside but remote enough that it has a quirky laid back vibe of its own. So suffice to say I was honoured to be able to attend their Bistro launch with some of my favourite blogging girlies for a little mate date.  Katie and I arrived a little early so had and had a drink in bar, which is a fab mixture of classy and cosy with lots of stylish dark wood and comfy arm chairs to recline in whilst enjoying a chilled glass of wine.

Once out on the terrace we were treated to some summer cocktails (the strawberry margarita was a particular favourite of mine) and some live music whilst they fired up the BBQ.  As is a full bbq all with locally sourced Northumbrian meat there was a seafood market cart jam backed with dressed crab, crab claws and lobster as well as a fresh Lindisfarne Oyster boat. I mean, with Brexit just around the corner it’s reassuring to know that with these delicacies on our doorstep, we’ll probably be ok with locally sourced food!

Oysters is definite the marmite of the seafood world; you either love them or hate them however it’s well documented that I’m a huge lover of marmite so am equally a lover of oysters too!  Smothered in tabasco sauce I could have eaten me about a million and a half of those bad boys! I didn’t though – they’re not all that well known for their stomach lining properties after all!

 

Thanks to Katie from www.ladyfromatramp.co.uk so use of her pictures

I could go on and on about the juiciness of the prawns or the succulence of the meat but to be honest, it’s probably just best you head along and try out their new bistro menu for yourself. The currently do a particularly good value al fresco summer set menu for £17.95 for two courses or £20.95 for three. If you’re particularly lucky, and happen to pick the day that summer falls on this year, you may even be able to treat yourself to a seat outside!

Contact:

Allan House, City Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2BE
Tel: 0191 389 8628

Ouseburn Pub Crawl

‘I like to go home early, that’s my thing. My idea of a pub crawl lasts from midday until 5pm’ – Nick Frost

Just over a year ago I was musing to the hubs that I’d never really had a good walk around our fair city home city of Newcastle upon Tyne and seen the city walls, china town etc. So one rain Good Friday we did just that, I wrote a blog post about it and it became the most successful post I’ve ever done.

The Ouseburn area of Newcastle is also somewhere I’ve never really been been, Meagan and I ventured down there when she was over in July, just we ended up just getting drunk in the Ship Inn and did really try any of the other pubs. So, hubby being the amazing, supportive hombre he is, agreed to be dragged out the house for a day on drink. All in the name of research of course. How selfless.

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Directions

Every professional drinker knows that you need to line your stomach well before a good session, so we fueled up on some mahoosive meat sarnies and quirky new deli Kracklin on Market Street (just round the corner from the Theatre Royal.

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Kracklin

After you’ve been fed and watered turn right out of the cafe and continue all the way along Market Street until you come to a large dual carriage way (The A167M). To your left you should see a set of stairs that will lead to a foot bridge crossing the carriageway. This will lead you to New Bridge Street. It’s worth stopping halfway over the footbridge and taking a look to you right where you’ll get a pretty decent view of the iconic Tyne Bridge.

As you come down the ramp off the other side of the footbridge you’re now on New Bridge Street and should see Manors Metro Station (this is another good place to start if you want to miss out lunch). Walk passed the metro station keeping it on your right and you should come across the first pub of the crawl just passed it, called the New Bridge

Part of the Sir John Fitzgerald pub chain this isn’t the same as most of the others in the chain like The Twin Farms or the Pavilion, it’s much more traditional. Near the front door there are cute little wooden booths to sit in quietly then past the bar it opens out where it’s a little more lively but still with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere (the barmaid in particular was really good fun). They have big plasma screens showing the Newcastle match if it’s on so a good one for footie fans. There’s a good range of real ales, always a winner with the hubs, I however was firmly on the wine (a small glass though this was a marathon not a sprint!)

Come out of the New Bridge and turn right continuing along New Bridge Street, after about 5 minutes or so you will see the Tanners Arms directly in front of you.

Probably the least salubrious of the pubs on the tour, however it was reasonably quiet when we were in and got a warm welcome from the bar staff. You get a real sense of Newcastle here – a local pub but not in an intimidating, the music stops and everyone stares at you as you walk in kind of way. It’s another real ale pub with a lot of variation on offer including ciders on tap. Although we weren’t eating they did a good variety of reasonably priced hot dogs and gourmet burgers. The music was pretty spot on as well, the only pub on the tour that has it’s own resident DJ, I daren’t ask him if he had any Backstreet Boys though.

When you come out of the side door of the Tanners you want to hike a left then sharp left again so you’re walking down Stepney Bank. You should see the famous Byker Bridge infront of you on the left, walk down the bank keeping to the right of the bridge arches. About 3/4 minutes down the road it will start to bear round to the right onto Lime Street where you’ll see the Ship Inn on the left and the Cluny right in front of you (The Ship Inn is also worth a try if your liver is up to the challenge but since I’d already drank in there we gave it a miss on this occasion) and headed straight into the Cluny instead.

The Cluny apparently is a regular fixture in the top 100 list of World’s Best Bars, and is currently the only pub in Newcastle upon Tyne to make the list. As well as being a cafe and bar it’s also a live music venue with two different rooms, the largest of which has a capacity of around 300. Personally, this was probably my least favourite pub of all on the tour. Perhaps my expectations were too high with it being so iconic. I mean, there was nothing wrong with it, it was just a little bit too hipstery (the irony of that is not lost considering we were in Ouseburn – the most hispter place on the planet) but I just found it a little too cool for school and the staff looked bored and surly. Reading some reviews on Tripadvisor appear to concur as well sadly, the fact that it’s a music venue seemingly the only thing saving it at the moment. Should have stuck to what we knew and gone back to the Ship Inn instead.

Come out of the Cluny and turn right (or if you’ve taken my advice and gone to the Ship turn left) with Ouseburn Farm on your left and over the wooden bridge that crosses the Rive Ouse. Follow the path round to the right a little bit and you should see a set of steep steps on the right. Climb the steps to pub number 4 – The Cumberland Arms

Absolute, hands down favourite pub of the day. The pub is split into 2 bar areas with the bar in the middle servicing both rooms. We found a little table in the left hand room which was lovely and cosy with a roaring open fire, books and board games. They don’t do food because, well, they’re not Wetherspoons, but we got a couple of bags of crisps to tide us over. They also have a small performance space upstairs where they do improv – something I’d like to check out sometime. I will always love small quaint local pubs over large echoing rooms like the Cluny so The Cumberland is right up my street! There’s actually a B&B attached as well with 4 rooms available, something I’d be really keen to try out in the future if we wanted our next pub crawl to last a little longer into the night!

Coming out of the Cumberland you can either go back down the steps or turn immediate left which will lead you down to Byker Bank. Turn right onto Byker Bank and continue along the road for about 5 minutes where you will then need to turn left onto Ford Street. 2 minutes along Ford Street and you will start gradually walking up a hill and see The Free Trade Inn like a shining beacon in the distance, an oasis of real ale and wine, and pub number 5 on our tour!

By the time we arrived it was early evening and there was a great atmosphere in the pub. It probably offered the best range of real ale. It’s nice to be able to go into a real ale pub, order wine and not feel like a leper and one of the bonuses of being one of the only girls in a pub full of blokes is that you get a seat offered to you, sorry feminists but after nearly 5 hours on the drink my dogs were barking! I wouldn’t normally be that bothered about a seat to be honest other than were the view from the pub window not be as gorgeous as this:

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Oh, and the pub cat is called Craig David.

Well oiled a little bleary eyed we left the Free Trade and walked down the steep stone steps as if you’re heading towards the Quayside and you’ll stumble into the last pub on the tour, the Tyne Bar

It turned out to be a really good pub to end the night on, it was rammed, music pumping and the atmosphere was excellent. It’s not the biggest bar in the world, but my womanly charms managed to get us a seat again (either that or I just have the kind or personality that clears a room). There is a large outdoor space with a stage for live music but this was a cold Saturday at the beginning of March so we stayed inside. It’s possibly a little on the studenty side more my usual tastes but it was welcoming and friendly rather than pretentious and cold. Besides I  was 5 glasses of wine in, I was everyone’s friend by that point! A plate of chili nachos wafted past us at one point , which made me make a mental note to go there for food one time.

So needless to say after 6 pubs in almost as many hours it was needless to say it was time the Newman’s hit the strasse and rolled themselves home, which is exactly what we did (via the Crown Posada of course 😉

 

The Importance of Ernest

I’d rather have lunch with my friends than go to a gym’ – Adele

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Question: What do you do when your best mate is over from America and you need somwhere for lunch to soak up the Margaritas you drank the night before that’s not McDonalds or Subway?
Answer: Go to Ernest’s.

I was recommended Ernest by my boss, who has high standards when it comes to his eateries, so I figured it would be pretty good, although perhaps a little concerned that may mean it was way out my price range. Ernest takes a little bit of finding, located in trendy Ouseburn nestled between the back of the Biscuit Factory and the Byker Bridge, but if you can bear the trek on the Quaylink bus, you won’t be disappointed (there is plenty of street parking around as well). We decided to go around 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon and although there were a few people in, there were plenty of seats available, all of which are comfy, high back sofa style and there are loads of quirky pop culture trinkets dotted around the place (most impressive are the cases of action figures on the ways to the toilets)

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We sat down and were offered drinks almost straight away.Being a Wednesday lunchtime and dehydrated from the night before we opted for softies but the cafe is licensed so you can order some alcoholic beverages if you so choose. The menu is extensive but not annoyingly big. It’s a massive bug bear of mine that lots of cafes stop serving breakfast at 11am so one of the big draws of Ernest if that it serves it’s breakfast all day, which means by the time peeled your crusty eyelids apart and left it long enough that you’re no longer over the legal limit to drive you can still get a full English or some scrambled eggs at 2pm.

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Between the 3 of us we pretty much covered a broad spectrum of the menu;

Eggs Eclipso – Poached eggs on a slow cooked base of gently spiced tomatoes and peppers, served with a flatbread (with added chorizo) – £9.50

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Steak with Salad & Fries –  Rib eye steak served with either sweet potato or real fries and Ernest salad, straight up and simple (sauce of the day available if required) – £12

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Guacamole Flatbread – With guacamole, spinach, rocket, basil and roasted tomato – £7.50

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Food came quickly and was plentiful. Meagan’s steak was a good cut of meat with little fat on and cooked how she ordered. Ruth’s flatbread was like a yummy healthy green version of a pizza and the added chorizo to my Eggs Eclipso gave a great flavour to the sauce with which I mopped up with generous helpings of pita bread. We even managed to squeeze in a homemade brownie afterwards (which was one of the many homemade cakes available to eat in with ice cream or take away with coffee)

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Between the 3 of each having lunch, brownies and a couple of soft drinks, the bill came to around £40 so price wise Subway it isn’t. But to be honest the quality of the food we had and if you think of how much a cup of coffee, panini and cake costs in Starbucks, it’s probably not that more expensive. The staff were very friendly, always asking if we were ok and wanted more drinks and we a had a good laugh with one of the guys there as we tried to work out how to get Meagan’s American bank card to work on his chip and pin machine.

I imagine this place gets really busy at weekends and I don’t think you can reserve tables for small groups so perhaps give it a go on weekday if you get chance while it’s quiet and you can take your time. However if you do go on a weekend it will be worth the wait and the journey to get there. Now that I’ve discovered this little hidden gem my only hope it doesn’t go the way of places like The Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton and become a victim of it’s own success getting so popular you can never get a table. Probably means I shouldn’t be promoting it by hey, I’ve always been a walking contradiction!

Details:

Ernest
1 Boyd Street, Ouseburn, Newcastle, NE2 1AP
Bookings: 0191 260 5216 booking@weareernest.com

Facebook: facebook.com/weareernest

Twitter: twitter.com/weareernest