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!
Yesterday I popped into Stack Newcastle, as I had heard there was a branch of Love of the North there and wanted to check it out. It’s teeny – 3 customers was a crowd – but has some gorgeous geeky Geordie goodies and I suspect I will be doing some of my Christmas shopping there.
Next door was a fine wines and gin shop called Fourteen Drops that I also plan to check out properly when I am doing my festive shopping. It’s also small – though there were tables at the back so they must serve drinks or food – but stocks an interesting array of wines and gins that piqued my interest…
There seems to be a vogue for container parks at the moment in Newcastle, as one has opened on the Quayside, and a couple of weeks back The Stack opened on the site of the old Odeon cinema. Although billing itself as a “Creative Social Hub”, at the minute is seems to be basically a food/beer court with a few boutiques thrown in – albeit in an attractively arranged setting, with plenty of seating, decent choices (including some vegetarian / vegan spots).
I walked past on opening day and it was rammed, but today it was much more leisurely, so I availed myself of a halloumi wrap and a glass of wine on the upper mezzanine (where you can only purchase alcohol on presentation of a token to prove you have bought food, presumably to stop people getting tanked and falling off the balconies onto the diners and drinkers below.)
It’s an undeniably charming spot – lots of glitter balls and polished wood – so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle a Northern winter, given how much of it is exposed to the elements, and if it does develop into something more than a nice place to eat and drink. It’s a great location – just off Northumberland Street, opposite the Tyneside Cinema – so hopefully it will thrive. Certainly the Enchanted Garden gin palace would seem to have my name on it…