When was the last time you went for a meal that completely blew you away? When you enjoyed the food so much you wish you could take the chef home and have him serve up your breakfast, dinner and tea every single day? (Or lunch and dinner if that’s what you call it but let’s not get in to that!)
Well it happened to me on Friday, I’ve fallen in love with Artisan at the Biscuit Factory, just in time to tell you all about it before Valentine’s Day! So, are you sitting comfortably? This may be a rather long post…
Artisan can be found inside The Biscuit Factory, one of the UK’s biggest and best art, craft and design galleries, located in the creative hub of Newcastle, Ouseburn. The building is a restored Victorian warehouse which was no doubt used to produce biscuits at some point, hence the name! Inside, the warehouse feel has been retained with exposed brickwork and beams but it’s surprisingly cosy thanks to stylish and comfortable furnishings and of course plenty of modern artwork to admire.
Like the surroundings, the menus (I use the plural because there were several!) are also quite contemporary featuring British classics with a modern twist. A former North East chef of the year, Andrew Wilkinson, heads up the kitchen and according to Artisan’s website, ‘Andrew and his team source their ingredients from the local fields, foragers and fisherman.’ Music to my ears as we have some amazing local producers in the North East and I admire any chef who embraces the quality of ingredients on their doorstep.
One of the menus we were offered was a five course feast called ‘Fish Friday’, Artisan have various themes like this throughout the week giving us a new reason to visit every day. With this being our first time at the restaurant though and with thoughts of meat firmly on our minds we decided to dine from the a la carte menu.
For starters I deliberated over the option of smoked eel but in the end I chickened out and went for an old favourite, homemade black pudding. James chose Northumbrian Goats Curd which pleased me as I really wanted to try that too!
They were both beautifully presented and the portion sizes were generous. We enjoyed them so much that we almost ended up arguing over whose dish was the tastiest! I have to say, that Northumbrian Goats Curd is rather special. We enquired as to whether it was from the Northumberland Cheese Company as we’d seen it being made on a factory tour, our suspicions were confirmed which us made us look like smug foodies, truth be told, we both just adore cheese and that little local company make some of the best!
On to the mains and James couldn’t resist the rib eye steak which was served with a huge pile of thrice cooked chips and his choice of sauce, peppercorn. As a side he also ordered glazed carrots with a hazelnut dukka. I had no idea what a dukka was but it looked and tasted like the hazelnuts had been mixed with cumin and sprinkled over the carrots giving them an unusual but not unpleasant texture and flavour. There were the usual yummy noises and nods of satisfaction from James as he tucked in to his food, he’s a man of few words. I had a sneaky chip dipped in to the sauce and it was very moorish. I think peppercorn sauce can sometimes over power the taste of the meat but it wasn’t too strong or creamy, the balance was perfect.
My main of wild duck breast was served perfectly pink on a bed of puy lentils, cabbage, shallots and smoked bacon which I much preferred to boring old potatoes, more flavour and less bloating! It also came with a game pithivier which turned out to be a gorgeous little pie (see, I told you I was no foodie)!
We shared a dessert, to be honest we didn’t really need it as we were both very full and could have done with leaving a little room for drinks in town but I couldn’t resist when I saw rhubarb on the menu. I’m always surprised when people say they don’t like it because I adore rhubarb, there’s so much you can do with it too! At Artisan, it was used to compliment a baked cheesecake and delicate macaroon. It was a really elegant dessert and thinking back, I don’t think we did end up sharing it, sorry James!
The whole experience was divine, every mouthful of food was delicious and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I also give top marks for wonderful service, faultless ladies loos (something I’m quite picky about!) and a unique setting.
I should point out that our meal was complimentary but please don’t for a second think that has any bearing on my review. As with every word written on this blog, it’s my honest personal opinion. I eat out in the North East several times a week and only my favourite places end up being written about. I will certainly be re-visiting Artisan and would be more than happy to spend my hard earned cash there!
To find out more about Artisan, including details of their special Valentine’s Day menu visit the website: www.artisannewcastle.com
By Rachel Kershaw