They say the old ones are the best and when it comes to places to eat in Newcastle they don’t come much older than Blackfriars Restaurant and Banquet Hall. It was established in 1239 by Dominican Friars who came here following religious orders. The restaurant is now on the site of what was once their refectory, used to feed the paupers of the city! Well, I can tell you I felt nothing like a pauper when I was invited to try out the set menu last week, I felt like I’d been transported back in time to somewhere very special. The cosy restaurant has lots of rustic features, a warm, welcoming atmosphere (especially when it’s blowing a hoolie outside!) and it’s easy to forget that you’re just a stone’s throw from bustling China Town and the lively Gate complex.
Blackfriars has a plethora of awards to it’s name, it’s been voted Best Restaurant in the North East by Metro, Observer and the License Trade Awards to name but a few but now it’s time for me to have my two pennies worth!
First up I have to say that we were extremely well looked after by Melanie and her colleagues. Sometimes I’m a bit sceptical about the attention I receive as a blogger and you can’t help but think, ‘are they just being nice because they know I’m doing a review?’, but that thought didn’t cross my mind at Blackfriars as the whole team seemed genuinely down to earth. I also noticed how friendly and helpful they were to other diners, even those who seemed intent on redesigning the whole menu!
I felt no such need to tamper with the dishes on offer, the set menu (£18 for three courses) was surprisingly extensive and to my delight it featured lots of local produce. This is something that Blackfriars obviously prides itself on as even the table mats have been designed to show off the region’s vast array of wonderful food suppliers!
For my starter I chose North Sea fishcake with homemade tartare sauce, it was small but perfectly formed and even though I don’t normally like tartare sauce, I cleared the plate. James went for black pudding with mushroom ketchup and a poached egg. The egg was perfectly cooked and oozed a runny yolk all over the rich black pudding, it looked like the ideal starter for a cold winter evening.
We continued with the comfort food theme for our main courses, I opted for slow roasted belly pork with colcannon mash, crackling and cider jus. If I’m honest, there was a bit too much wholegrain mustard in the mash for my liking and I found it a bit overpowering but I couldn’t fault the juicy pork and the jus was a wonderful accompaniment.
I wasn’t surprised when James chose the 6oz Northumbrian rump steak served with tomato, mushroom and thick cut chips (is it every man’s fave?) but I was quite surprised that there wasn’t a supplement for it as steak often demands a few extra quid in other restaurants. He ordered it rare and wasn’t disappointed, I could tell from one stolen bite that it was a quality piece of meat!
We were both quiet full after all that but with no plans other than to curl up on the sofa when we got home we couldn’t resist dessert. Our choices of passionfruit cheesecake and pear tart with milk ice cream were both scrumptious and led to a series of yummy noises and satisfied nods that I’m pretty sure encouraged the diners next to us to order the same!
If you fancy trying Blackfriars for yourself, you’ll be pleases to know it’s taking part in NE1’s Newcastle Restaurant Week 19 – 25 January and the specially created menu is a bargain at £15 for three courses, get all the details HERE. I also urge you to check out the incredible list of unique events that take place at Blackfriars across the year, (I’m loving the sound of the Great Geordie Bake Off)!
By Rachel Kershaw