I’m sure there’s a saying about the old ones being the best, whoever said it might not have been referring to restaurants but it seems to apply to Blackfriars. This unique eatery is set within a 13th century Dominican friary in the heart of Newcastle and is thought to have the oldest purpose-built dining room in the whole of the UK. It’s character and charm are undeniable, it couldn’t be more different to some of the loud and gaudy restaurants located nearby.
Restaurateur Andy Hook, (who also runs Dobson & Parnell on the Quayside – review HERE) has recently completed an extensive renovation project at Blackfriars. The facelift has breathed new life in to disused parts of the building, creating a new Parlour Bar, larger Cookery Workshop and unique Wine Tasting Room.
I recently went along for dinner with my other half and we deliberately arrived earlier than our reservation so we could relax with a drink in The Parlour Bar. It’s located just next to the restaurant and was originally the waiting room for visitors to the friary. For many years it was a gift shop but thanks to Andy’s vision and the talents of some traditional craftsmen it has never looked better. I highly recommend a visit before or after a meal at the restaurant. It’s open to non-diners too and is a great place to escape to for a quiet drink.
The rooms above the restaurant were formerly the libraries for the Dominican Friars and meeting rooms for the city’s Crafts Guilds. Now they house a bigger and better Cookery Workshop so Blackfriars can expand the number of events they offer, including Bread Making, Dinner Party cooking, kids’ cookery classes and corporate events – see I told you it was no ordinary restaurant – and I’ve not even revealed the most exciting part of the renovation yet…
Above the restaurant’s dining room, the team has also opened the former Tanners’ Meeting House as a Tasting Room, featuring antique 19th century seating, which will now cater for a range of corporate and private events including wine, beer and whisky tasting for up to 40 people – I’m trying to persuade my boss to book it for ‘team building’!
My recent meal there with James was every bit as wonderful as I’d come to expect from Blackfriars, the food gets consistently good reviews (not to mention its fair share of awards) and I’m sure you can see why with these pics of our delicious feast…
James went for a starter of cured mackerel which was served with the perfect accompaniments of horseradish and beetroot plus some crispy sourdough bread. It was a genius combination of textures that made for a really interesting dish. My starter of Northumbrian goats’ curd croquette and potato salad was rather unusual too, the potatoes were purple! Although they tasted exactly as you would expect spuds to taste it was nice to have such a pretty plate of food to devour!
The main courses were equally as impressive and offered exceptional value money. There’s a £3 supplement for the Hanger Steak which is worth every penny, it was served perfectly pink and was bursting with flavour. The portions were generous and we didn’t feel the need to order extra sides; I loved the tasty peas and bacon that were served with my chicken.
We were very tempted to indulge in sticky toffee puddings for dessert but ended up choosing light and summery options of Lemon Posset and Eton Mess. They were they perfect ending to a lovely meal.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that food this good in such a unique and historic setting would blow the budget but everything we ate was from the early dinner set menu which offers three courses for £21, 5:30-7pm Monday to Friday. (£3 supplement for steak) Dine from the same menu at lunch time Mon-Sat and it’s even less! You can also choose to add two glasses of paired wines for an extra £10.50.
You’ll find the full menu and details of all the upcoming events HERE (I’ve got my eye on their ‘Pizza & Prosecco Night’ and ‘Chocolate Workshop’). You can also check out my review of Blackfriars’ legendary Medieval Banquet HERE.
On this visit our food was complimentary in return for an honest review.