O Hiya. It feels like a very long time since I was last here. Posts have been intermittent since July because as I explained here, I find it very difficult to get excited about average things.
I think going to New York in late September only made this worse, where absolutely everything we ate (thanks to my very thorough planning) was fantastic, and meant nothing back home could compare. Couldn't even come close. We ate at gorgeous places like Minetta Tavern by legendary restauranteur Keith McNally, and Babbo the flagship Greenwich restaurant from famed chef Mario Batali and David Chang's Momofuku which means I can never look at a bowl of noodles again in the same way. And that's just the stand out, famous names, we enjoyed bagels from Russ and Daughters, pastrami at Katz's, smoked meats and doughnuts at Smorgasburg, pizza at Motorino, cocktails at Schillers, more cocktails at Bathtub Gin, brunch at Diner, obligatory burgers at Shakeshack and cookies from Momofuku Milk bar, the list goes on. Everything we had normally included the comment, 'this is the best ------- i've ever had'.
So, as you can tell Newcastle has somewhat struggled to compare for the last month or so. But I have missed blogging. As the nights have drawn in, the temperatures have fallen and the flat's got increasingly damp I frankly need the distraction.
Given the whole 'going to New York and spending all my money thing' we have been trying to each out less. Or at least less extravagantly. I have however paid a couple of trips to the recently opened The Bridge Tavern pub on the quayside and each time have liked it a little bit more.
The Bridge Tavern is owned by the same people who run The Town Wall. I've never been a big fan of The Town Wall, in terms of location and size it's good for the occasional pint, but the food has always been resolutely OK.
The Bridge Tavern feels like a refined older brother, lots of smart wood, real bookcases and its own microbrewery located at the back of the ground floor. The upstairs bar/outside terrace will be very popular in the summer. It is all very knowingly of the moment, but that doesn't always have to be a bad thing.
On each visit there's been some teething problems at the bar with the beers and staff have picked up that nonchalant-cooler-than-though-attitude that's so irritating about The Town Wall. The beers, some brewed in house, have mostly been good, Astral Weeks which has been on lately was a very nice hoppy session pint.
But there are plenty of good places to have a pint in town, it is definitely the thing that Newcastle does best. What has really sold The Bridge Tavern to me is the quality of the food. No surprises or shocks, mainly classic gastropub favourites but it is all done very well. Clearly taking inspiration (and I believe the chef) from my own personal fave The Broad Chare, it has a range of pub snacks, all deep fried and crispy bits, then sharing platters of pressed meats and potted fishes, and main plates like burgers, fish and chips, pies. As I said nothing out of the ordinary but it is as a pub should be.
The obvious strength it has over The Broad Chare is you can eat there whenever you want, from the full menu. The Bridge Tavern is very much a pub with food, The Broad Chare a restaurant with beer. It's also a fair bit cheaper.
And it has my new favourite burger in town. Oh this was a lovely, lovely burger, shiny soft springy glazed bun, sweet pickled cucumber, although 2 tiny slices did feel a bit on the tight side, plenty of strong melted cheddar coating a juicy, thick, pink patty. Dense and delicious. Also at £8.85 with a huge portion of fries it's a good every day option.
Completed by a side of onion rings for £2.50 and you have a very decent pub lunch. On another trip I had the fish and chips, again everything you'd want from fish and chips, crispy light batter, firm pearly flakey white fish and proper marrow mushy peas. Again at £8.95 it's reasonably priced. The only thing I had which missed the mark was the Pork Rinds, which I'd thought would be like crackling but was rather a sort of airy porcine prawn cracker and really didn't do much for me.
So pubs, still something that Newcastle does best. I have a really irritating habit of bitching on about all the things I can't get up North (I won't start on that now) but there's about 6 or 7 pubs in Newcastle which would easily be heads and shoulders above the competition if they were in another city or town. The Bridge Tavern's opening is perfectly timed for those previously mentioned chilly days; there's few things better on an autumn day than a (short) walk, a stack of papers and a pint, a plate of good food and with it being 10 minutes from my flat, now the best place to hide from the increasingly damp flat.
The Bridge Tavern is at 7 Akenside Hill, NE1 3UF. Unsurprisingly given the name, it's under the bridge. Open 7 days a week till late-ish.