Backyard Bike Shop

Yesterday made an overdue return visit to Backyard Bike Shop, down next to the river. It’s a lovely place – a cosy cafe that does a small but quality menu, but switches to a cocktail bar after 5. Alas, we were too early for cocktails, but the food was delicious and the staff were friendly.

I normally have the avocado smash – predictable, I know, but the “will they do my egg how I like it?” is my standard cafe test. The lovely waitress explained their avocados weren’t ripe so, prompted to be more adventurous, I had the chick pea pancakes with dahl, and S had the courgette ribbons with goats cheese curd – both of which were utterly delicious.

Now to go back for their cocktails.

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Arch Sixteen Cafe

One of the lovely things about being back is seeing areas which were in decline when I left becoming regenerated. This is particularly true in Gateshead, much of which was in a fairly desolate state in my youth.

My friend S now lives in Ochre Yards, an estate of fancy new flats near the Hilton, and so any easy walk from the new bars on the Gateshead side of the river. The railway arches have also become home to a host of new businesses, including the butcher’s/wine shop Block and Bottle, and a fancy new tea shop. It’s also home to great wee cafe, Arch Sixteen.

A funky space that offers a range of coffees, cakes and sandwiches (the food offering looks good, though is relatively limited – though it does include several vegetarian offerings, and they plan to expand the menu).

It was a quiet afternoon when we popped in, which gave us a chance to chat to the proprietor Bob, who was lovely. He told us all about the different events the place hosts – ranging from freelancers’ networking to sewing nights and music gigs – and we were impressed by his commitment to really making the place a community hub.

Plus, I *love* a railway arch. Count me in for a return visit.

Lunch at Kiln

So my friend S and I went to Ouseburn today. It was a gorgeous day so perfect for a walk along the Quayside and pottering about, and as is becoming a pattern with our outings, lunch stretched into drinks. We did manage some culture – a wander round the Biscuit Factory and a coffee – but the highlight of the day was a trip to Kiln.

It’s a lovely little New York style cafe that does a great line in vegetarian food and cocktails. You can even buy some cups and plates made in the attached pottery, should you wish. I’ll definitely be going back!

Butterfly Cabinet

In my mission to eat every brunch in the North East, today I ventured to Heaton to try The Butterfly Cabinet. A funky wee place with a laid back vibe not far from that other Heaton stalwart, Sky Apple Cafe, this is mixed rather than veggie but the vegetarian is well catered for. From a plethora of choices I went for the posh French toast and it was so tasty and filling I needed a little lie down afterwards…

Kith and Kin

Another stop on my Metro Challenge today: Monkseaton to see my friend S, for a much belated catch up. We went for brunch to Kith and Kin, a lovely little cafe on the main drag a few munutes from the Metro that he had been to on a previous visit and I was keen to try again. The veggie options are great, the coffee good and the service friendly – and they passed the Tracey Test for brunch by doing my egg just how I asked…

The Biscuit Factory

Went for a birthday brunch to The Factory Kitchen at the Biscuit Factory, in the newly revitalised Ouseburn. I have been to the gallery before, and liked it, but never eaten at any of the eateries. The Factory Kitchen is, I think, the most affordable, and I will definitely be going back: the grilled cheese sandwich was one of the best I have ever had, and my companion was equally taken with her eggs Benedict. The only downside was it was so filling that even after we took a break to walk around the art and enjoy a pop up jewellery shop (the main gallery also sells some lustworthy pieces), we were still so full that her plan to buy me a slice of cake was thwarted and we had to settle for another coffee instead…

Mason + Rye

It occurs to me that while this blog is likely going to be good at fulfilling its main purpose of preventing me getting stuck in a rut – my friends are already sick of me suggesting we go to new places ‘for the blog’ – it might also end up being very expensive.

Take today, for instance. Planning to pick up a cheap supermarket lunch on the way back from barre class, I made a minor detour through Fenwick’s Food Hall (which deserves – and will get – its own post). While there – for your sake, dear reader, not my own – I decided to make a pit stop of one of its fancy cafes, Mason + Rye.

A light, airy space with an array of savouries and sweets and a decent if not stellar vegetarian selection, it looked the perfect place to stop for a coffee, so just a coffee was all I planned to get. (While not crazy expensive, at 5 quid for a cheese sandwich, it’s also not super cheap). However, my inner blogger kicked in when I saw the choices included an intriguing nettle cheese and brown ale chutney mini-baguette, and so obviously, I had to try it. (Had I not just come from my barre class’ hour-long brutal contemplation of my thighs, I might have plumped for one of the impressive looking cakes instead.).

Although around 12.30 it wasn’t too rammed (though the lunch hour rush was starting to kick in as I left), and overall I’d say if you are looking for a civilised coffee stop somewhere in your day, there are far worse places to go.