A Miracle on Grey Street

So, I was in an incredible grump today that was proving hard to shift. Luckily when I emailed my friend M to see if she was willing to meet up and shake me out of my mood, she agreed. We went for dinner at the newly revamped Carluccios, but not before a wander around the Christmas market and a couple of drinks at festive pop up Miracle on Grey Street. The bar was a bit rammed, though the atmosphere was friendly, and they do an inventive array of cocktails alongside mulled wine and cider. I plumped for the vodka and prosecco Tinsel Toon while M had a rum-based baubles for all and a good time was had…

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Dabbawal and Stack

Belated birthday night out last night for my lovely friend S. Reconnecting with him since moving back – after so many years out of touch – has been a real joy, and it doesn’t hurt that he always has great recs for restaurants (Kiln was also his idea).

Last night we went to Stack for a quick drink before dinner. I’ve been, as you know, in the summer, but was interested to see how it fared in winter. I was slightly disappointed to see the covered gin bar replaced with a beer tent – it looked slightly dark, fusty and unfinished inside so we decided to brave the outdoor tables instead. These are certainly well-heated – the table heaters were so hot I couldn’t keep my coat on – and I can imagine nearer Christmas the whole fairy lights vibe will feel very festive.

Next up, Dabbawal, on High Bridge Street, which is becoming my local. I’d actually been here years ago with L of Raven in a Graveyard – she’d suggested it on one of my previous visits back from London, I think – so I had vague memories of liking it. And, mmmmmm, was I right.

The food – which is comprehensively labelled for allergies and diets, which always gives a nice sense of comfort – is Indian street food, and the choice is enormous, with a ton of vegetarian dishes. S and I plumped to share, and ordered a selection of sides and starters, all of which were delicious, though my eyes turned out to be too big for my belly, and that, combined with still feeling a tad ropey from the other week’s cold, meant I had to call it a night quite early – which, disappointingly, meant I didn’t get to try their advertised Espresso Martinis!

But the service was friendly, the food lovely, the vibe nice and low key – and, best of all, I discovered they sell their own notebooks. I’m definitely going back!

Prosecco on the Quayside

On the Quayside we stopped off for a quick drink at a place I think is called Signori – by this stage my feet were hurting and I needed a drink – a prosecco bar attached to an Italian restaurant. It wasn’t quite what I hoped – the decor was fancy but it felt slightly like a place that hadn’t established its identity yet – but as it was a match day and the town was heaving I was just relieved to find somewhere we could get a seat…

Fenwick’s Food Hall

As I mentioned in my post on Mason + Rye, I took a detour through the glory that is Fenwick’s Food Hall today. It’s a gorgeous place – light, airy and with a fantastic selection of breads, cheeses, (and I think meat and fish, if you are into that sort of thing…), drinks and chocolates. The chocolates were particularly tempting, and include a range of local brands.

It was redone quite recently, I think – and I have to say that while the refurb has made it more spacious, brighter and shinier, and opened more spaces where you can eat and drink, which is nice, it has lost some of its charm. The old Food Hall used to be more of an eclectic mix: there were a couple of gondolas dedicated to ‘normal’ groceries, so as well as somewhere you could stock up on fancies, there was a decent selection of basics, and a lively queue of old ladies who happily seemed to do their weekly shop there. (I often wonder what happens to these old dears when places like this get all gentrified, and it makes me sad that the cost of ‘progress’ is to push away the folk who have been loyally patronising somewhere for years. I’m looking at you, Red Roaster, Brighton.)

Still, it remains a lovely place, and should I ever want to fritter my rent on artisanal sweets and posh gin – and you know there’s a high possibility of that – I know just where I can go.

Pizza Punks

Located midway down Dean Street, new joint on the scene Pizza Punks is certainly striking: neon signs and bare brick, graffiti-covered walls. The menu is promising, and they don’t gouge you on toppings – there is a set price for their pizzas. But my first trip was a little bit of a disappointment, if I am honest.

The vibe is cool but slightly try-hard (we were called ‘love’ a little too often by the admittedly friendly staff), and our meal was marred by being 45 minutes late – their Wi-Fi went down, apparently, so our order disappeared, which made me rather wish that they had gone with the retro vibe and used a bloody notebook. The wine list is limited, as far as I could see (though my friend chose) – glasses, carafes and half carafes of white, red and prosecco.

The food when it arrived was delicious – the pizzas well-made and generous – but despite their numerous apologies for the delay, they only reduced the bill when we actually complained, which I felt we shouldn’t have had to do, since it had been commented on multiple times.

The desserts looked amazing and there were some great options on the menu, so I will probably go back, but will maybe give them a little time to bed in first…

Drinks at the Botanist

The Botanist is one of the most striking bars in Newcastle – its glass dome part of the city skyscape, moments away from Grey’s Monument – it’s one of the loveliest buildings in the city.

The bar itself has never quite lived up to its potential for me. The first time I went my friends and I accidentally sat in the restaurant bit, and the staff were slightly snotty about what was an honest mistake, which made me less than well inclined to the place.

Tonight was much better – the staff were friendly, though it was busy (I still can’t get used to the fact that after-work drinks in Newcastle start at 5). But it remains a hard place to warm to for me – striking and stylish, but without the buzz or atmosphere I want in my pubs. That said, it is stunning, so worth a visit…