Sunday, 23 February 2014

Restaurant Review: Lane 7, Newcastle upon Tyne

Pulled Pork Bun
There are times, and circumstances, when once the possibility of a certain type of food has lodged itself in your mind, nothing else will do. Last Sunday was such a time. Friends were up for the weekend from far and wide (London and Bolton to be precise) and the Saturday night had passed in a predictably booze-soaked fashion. After tipping enough Brown Ale and Jack Daniels down my throat to bring a medium-sized elephant to its knees I was, come Sunday, feeling somewhere on that spectrum that runs between still pissed and repentantly shit. Plans for the day were hatched and then slowly ditched as time passed, light faded and day became night. The need for some kind of food was plain. A few options were mooted and discounted before someone said "Lane 7?" and someone else said "Fucking right!" and that was that. With renewed purpose we shambled out.

Sited just opposite the coach station, Lane 7 has been open a few months now. I popped in for a beer not long after opening to have a squint at it and thought it all looked rather good. A "boutique bowling" alley, the restaurant serves up a menu of Americana in an All Star Lanes sort of way, while the short drinks list offers some very worthwhile choices. I can't for the life of me remember what, if anything, was here before, but it has been done out very nicely, with reclaimed filament lighting and turquoise blue leather banquet seating echoing the spirit of this particular age. Sat next to the bowling lanes, I found the perpetual thwack of ball on skittle strangely soothing. We were in no mood to bowl, but we were very much in the mood for fried things and meat.

Regarding the food, the blurb is that head chef Chris Finnigan trained at that Blanc chap's Le Manoir, and has headed up a few rossette-endorsed kitchens since. How would that translate into the down-and-dirty type stuff being knocked out here? Fairly well, is the short, if equivocal, answer.

Whitebait, Roast Garlic and Chilli Mayo
Kasia and I shared some whitebait. They were fine, pleasantly fishy specimens, although I could've done with a few more. There was quite a lot of empty space in that glass. I think I prefer them dusted in seasoned flour rather than breaded too, as it allows you to see the expression on their faces before devouring them and breadcrumbs can't help but remind me of shit school-era fish fingers. A friend's creamed corn, ordered as a starter was smuttily good, invoking the spectre of primula with gentle cayenne heat.

My pulled pork bun (see top of post) was solid, but not quite spot-on. Plus points for the bun itself - perfect amount of give and just a touch of sweetness - and the excellent pickles. The meat itself had decent flavour, but was slightly dry. It could've done with being moistened and lifted by a splash of cider vinegar, with maybe some crackling for texture.

Kasia's "Huge Pole" (fnarr fnarr!) hot dog was similarly decent. Again, great bun and a good flavousome and densely textured sausage that reminded me of the kind of thing we've had in Poland, which is no small praise I tell you.

Mac and Cheese
A friend's Mac and Cheese tasted riotously good for the first two forkfuls. By the third, the insanely rich sauce - I think they were testing how much cheese they could get a bechamel to hold - was causing my suffering heart to send out frenzied warnings not to take the piss. I think this may make a better side dish than main. Skinny fries, present on all the mains we ordered were crisp, salty and fine.

Charred Hispi Cabbage
Star of the show for me was this side of bbq'd cabbage. Charred, deeply vegetal and smothered with a sauce I couldn't place but enjoyed very much, this felt like exactly the kind of thing they should be doing, while it also felt slightly virtuous in comparison to everything else. Drinks-wise it was water and coke all round notwithstanding a couple of milkshakes which were suitably infantalising, although took an age to concoct.

The spot had been more or less hit, if not entirely smashed. Prices are carefully calibrated to come in just south of the point where you say "hang on a minute...". That Mac and Cheese, plus side of fries, was a tenner. Whitebait were £4, and the "Things on Bread" come in at £9.50, with fries, which felt ok-ish for my pulled pork but less so for the hot-dog. There seemed to be a hell of a lot of staff; service oscillated between being attentive and friendly to us being more or less ignored. I tried to call for the bill a couple of times, but apparently there was some cutlery that just had to be polished, right then. Bowling prices seem a bit steep at £7.50 per person per game at peak times, and charging £12 per hour for a game of table tennis feels full on urine-extractatory.

All that said, I'll still come back here in the near future and feel quite impressed by what they've done. It's a very nice place to sit and have a drink, the food is somewhere between ok and very good and there are fun things to do. The pricing may be a bit steep, but I suppose if it means they stay open and thrive, fair enough. On a Sunday night an impressive amount of Newcastle's population was in here. And when I think about how much I spent on sub-par refreshments the previous evening, perhaps the better value is to be found in whitebait, bowling and (moderate quantities of) good beer.


Lane 7, 80-90 St James Boulevard, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4BN
0191 261 6161



  1. I really enjoyed the food at Lane 7, although the alcoholic milkshakes are stupidly expensive for the amount you get - I was very disappointed to have such a tiny glass :(

    We'll definitely be heading back at some point!

  2. Well it sounds like you enjoyed your meal and got to sample lots on the menu. The allotment posts were short lived weren't


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