My tastes have definitely changed as I’ve got older. I think it’s natural but it’s also largely down to my foodie fella who will eat absolutely anything and encourages me to do the same. Seafood is James’ favourite type of cuisine so, when I spotted a new seafood restaurant had opened in Newcastle I knew we had to check it out.
Nova Seafood Grill is what you might call a boutique restaurant as it only seats 26 people. You’ll find it tucked away on the cobbled street of High Bridge just off Grey Street. It’s a couple of doors down from Kaltur (another new restaurant that I really should get round to writing about it!) and close to some lovely cocktail bars like Pleased to Meet You, perfect for pre-dinner drinks.
James and I dined at Nova early on a Friday evening. We sipped on ice cold champagne while we perused the menu and I couldn’t help but feel rather sophisticated (not a feeling that comes to naturally to me, ha ha)!
While reading about the dishes on offer I was filled with confidence that anything I chose would be fresh and delicious. The chef’s passion for quality produce was clear from the description of his suppliers as ‘food heroes’ and it was a pleasure to see so many distinguished businesses detailed inside the carefully curated menu.
I want to love oysters, I really do, but no matter how many times I try them, I just don’t enjoy the taste or texture and I turn back in to the ten year old me at Morrison’s fish counter. James is a big fan though and was delighted to see a choice of oysters available; locally caught Lindisfarne oysters on the main menu and Cornish oysters on the specials board. On our waitress’ recommendation he went for the Cornish ones but chef was kind enough to send out both for James to try. He loved them and could have happily dined on them all evening.
Despite being tempted by the ‘Charcoal Gilled Langoustines with Wild Flowers and Chilli Oil’ (£12.75) James finally decided on the ‘Hand Dived Orkney Scallops with Truffle, Celeriac, Pork Crackling, Scallop Roe Emulsion, Wakame Seaweed and Peanut (£13.75). The unusual combination of textures made for a delicious dish, I know because I stole some!
I was delighted to see one of my favourite local ingredients make an appearance on the starter menu, goats curd! So I couldn’t resist the ‘Courgette Flowers with Goats Curd and Honey’ (£8.50). It was such an elegant dish, almost too pretty eat, but eat it I did and it was light, zesty and very moorish.
The only problem you might have at Nova Seafood and Grill is choosing between meat or fish for your main (assuming you’re not a vegetarian of course, in which course you’d be limited to the ‘Roasted Beats, Burrata and Toasted Hazelnuts’ – £13.50)
Chef uses a charcoal grill to prepare the mains and on the night we dined there were three seafood dishes to choose from (Halibut, Turbot and Octopus) and two meat dishes (Beef and Chicken). I actually prefer a limited menu as it makes choosing much easier and I don’t end up panic ordering. As a couple we never order the same mains so we can try each others. Anyone else do that? I’d be gutted if James ordered the same main as me!
James’ choice of ‘Ash Dexter Beef Fillet with Lactic Garlic, Barley and Marrow’ (£27.50) was undeniably indulgent. It felt like a real treat to be served something so carefully prepared, perfectly cooked and mouth-wateringly delicious. He was one happy fella.
I chose the ‘Glitne Snow White Halibut with Seaweed Butter, Sea Spinach and KC Caviar’ (£21.50). Wow. It was insanely good. I don’t know how chef managed to turn such an ugly looking fish in to such a beautiful and delicious meal but there is certainly some skill in that kitchen and if I wasn’t already a converted fish fan, I certainly am now!
There were three delicious desserts on the Nova menu and as I was already quite full I nearly declined but then our waitress mentioned a fourth option from the specials board and I could not resist the temptation of a ‘Strawberry and Pistachio Tart’ (I think it was aprox £6).
The strawberries were plump and juicy, the sorbet was divine and the pastry had just the right amount of crunch so that I didn’t send my food flying when I dug my fork in! It was the perfect end to one of the best meals we’ve enjoyed in a long time!
A new independent restaurant in the heart of the city is always a welcome addition and Nova offers something that I think Newcastle has been lacking – a sophisticated seafood restaurant with a passionate and talented chef, serving up dishes with fresh local ingredients and imaginative flair. Our dining experience there was on par with Michelin star restaurants we’ve visited across Europe.
Although our bill was kindly taken care of in return for honest feedback I estimate it would probably have come to about £80 excluding drinks. Although it’s pricey, I think the cost is reflective of the quality of food.
The only improvement I could think of suggesting would be to add some films to the bottom half of the windows to give diners in the window seats a little privacy from the many passers by who were trying to get a sneak peek inside (can’t blame them, I would be exactly the same).
If you fancy trying Nova for yourself I would suggest booking in advance as getting a table is going to become increasingly difficult as word spreads about this wonderful new restaurant.