When I Tweeted that I’d be heading to Newcastle, the suggestions for places to eat come flooding in – one place that people recommended over and over again was Terry Laybourne’s Café 21. My overnight Tyneside trip was a pretty whirlwind one but luckily I found time for a quick lunch.
What they say: ‘A city centre restaurant with a city centre buzz. In the heart of Newcastle's Quayside, Café 21 is a classic, modern bistro offering skilful cooking, sassy service and a good-time.’
What Michelin say: ‘Stylish, open-plan brasserie where subtle greys contrast with bold floral fabrics. Appealing classics display French undertones; best value menus at lunch/early dinner. Efficient service.’
What I ate (All for a very good value, 3 courses for £20):
Duck’s Livers, Watercress & Hazelnuts ~ Hearty, yet refined - a fabulous flavour and texture combination with beautifully cooked plump duck’s livers.
Pan-fried Hake with Grapes & Cauliflower ~ charring vegetables is very much ‘in vogue’ technique to add smoky / barbeque flavour to dishes. The cauliflowers were quite crudely (heavily) charred here and the resulting bitterness was off putting at first but when I ate it with the rich jus, sweet grapes and silky hake it found some synergy.
Montgomery’s Northumbrian Cheddar, Honeycomb & Toasted Hazelnut ~ So many restaurants overcomplicate their cheese offerings - it takes an assured restaurateur with confidence in their produce to serve a dessert with such minimalism – stunning, I loved the simplicity of this dish.
Verdict (Would I return?): Café 21 is a real ‘grown up’ restaurant that is not trying to be anything clever. Simply high quality food and service… I can see why it had so many recommendations. Top place.