There are plenty of places to grab a pizza in Newcastle city centre and some of them are really rather good but in the last year, an independent restaurant called The Herb Garden has sprung up under the arches of the railway and it’s deliciously different in so many ways!
I recently caught up with owners Ryan and Richard to quiz them about their concept and it was immediately clear that The Herb Garden is a restaurant built out of their passion for high quality ingredients and quirky interior design.
Ryan is the builder and Richard is the foodie and between them they’ve created a place full of character, where absolutely everything has been made in-house, from the incredible pizza dough to the wooden boards they’re served on!
I filmed my interview with Ryan and Richard but sadly due to background noise and low lighting the footage didn’t turn out so well. Above is a little still of the fellas from the film but as I’m unable to share the full video, I’ll give you an insight in to The Herb Garden through good old fashioned words and pictures instead…
James and I were greeted on arrival by a life size golden horse wearing roller skates (I told you it was different!) I later discovered the horse is affectionately known as ‘Herby’. Ryan and Richard had given the nag roller skates as they intended to drag it around Geordieland to promote the restaurant but sadly it was too unstable, so it welcomes diners by the door instead!
We’d gone to The Herb Garden straight from work and after skipping lunch we were both absolutely starving so although the pizza menu was very tempting we allowed our waitress to talk us in to trying the star of the specials board, ‘Sailor Jerry’s Big Rib’.
Now I know what you’re thinking but let me just point out that this is a 36oz beef rib sharing dish for two people, although to be honest, it could probably feed a family of five! We ended up taking home a doggy bag and having the leftovers for lunch for the next day!
So how did it taste? Well the meat simply fell off the bone, I wondered if it might be a bit chewy but it was cooked perfectly and packed with flavour. The Sailor Jerry sauce it was smothered in gave it a bit of a kick but the refreshing side salad made with with juicy pomegranates stopped the distinctive flavour from being overpowering. I adore sweet potatoes, so that huge pile went down a treat and added another lovely texture to the meal.
I can’t write about The Herb Garden without featuring the pizza they pride themselves on, so above is a picture of the calzone that James ordered on a previous visit. He’s not a man of many words but he says it was ‘canny’, Geordie praise indeed!
A visit to The Herb Garden is about more than just the food though, it’s about the whole experience. I love to dine in places where just as much thought has gone in to the decor as the menu and this place gets the thumbs up for both!
The wall of hydroponics (see image above) is more than just a distinctive feature, it’s there to provide the restaurant with high quality salad and herbs that are free from pesticides and chemicals. Richard told me that although the technique used to produce them accelerates the growth, the taste is natural and the quality is consistent. Two full time gardeners work at the restaurant to ensure that every mouthful of salad is just right, it’s a huge effort to go to but I totally admire The Herb Garden for doing things differently and giving Geordieland such a unique restaurant to be proud of!
Massive thanks to Ryan and Richard for making James and I so welcome and providing the food for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are my own.
By Rachel Kershaw