It’s been about a year since I last visited The Herb Garden – that time, as a visitor to the city – so was nice to make a return trip, in the company of my lovely friends L & U. We started off with drinks at Brown’s, which is another place I haven’t been to in ages, then made our way along to the restaurant.
I found it pretty much unchanged (though the titles of the pizza specials were sadly a bit less fun than last time), which is mostly a good thing. A plentiful vegetarian selection (with multiple vegan options), friendly service and tasty food combined with a funky ambience to make for a good evening. (L’s calzone was HUGE). Admittedly, I will never understand restaurants with high tables (who wants to eat feeling like they are perched?) and the slightly warped wood of my table meant my plate felt a bit wonky, but the food makes it worth a visit. And where else can you see a rollerskating horse?
Another day of theatre yesterday – I am rather loving the fact that I am seeing so much. I had a meeting at Northern Stage in the afternoon, where I got to do one of my favourite things (rant about theatre and class) in good company. I hadn’t, however, reckoned with the fact that the theatre is currently showing Dinosaur World Live, so was mobbed with excitable kids. I was actually quite jealous – not only would I love to see a show featuring ‘live’ dinosaurs – but it was only an hour long! I did at least get to see one of the dinos roaming wild in the cafe, which made up for some of the commotion.
Then after a quick stop at Pizza Express on Dean Street – a place I haven’t been since I went on a date there 25 years ago with a bloke who actually fancied my flatmate more than me (good times), I was back at Live Theatre for the press night of Clear White Light. It’s quite an odd concept – a retelling of the Fall of the House of Usher, set against a backdrop of NHS cuts and to a soundtrack of Alan Hull (of Lindisfarne fame) songs, and it took a while to find its feet – the first half dragged a bit (and you know I already think everything is 15 minutes too long), but it bounced back with a very strong second half that had some proper surprises, and the acting was strong throughout. The rousing finale, a song exhorting us to ‘bring down the government’ ended the evening on a high note. (“I think every play should end with an ode to revolution,” said one of my fellow audience members, as we were leaving.
It’s sold out now, so if you haven’t got a ticket you are probably out of luck, but if it does come back or you can get returns, it’s worth catching.
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…
Last time I was here – just visiting, I thought – I went to this very nice pizza place. Slightly hipster vibe (look at the names on the menu!). But the pizzas were great, the staff a delight and they had a good vegetarian selection. Don’t think they take bookings, but even on a Saturday we got seats ok, though I am generally not a fan of those long communal benches and seating with no backs.
Looking forward to returning, if only to figure out the deal with the horse in legwarmers.