And so to The Gate on a Sunday afternoon to take on Za Za Bazaar. The Gate is weird. It feels like an un-place, full of lack and sadness. As soon as I walk through the doors I feel like I've been subjected to some mild Harry Potter-style Dementor treatment. Fortunately the restaurant is quite close to the entrance. I vaguely remember reading a John Lanchester review of their original Bristolian outpost which he rated not too badly at all. With 1000 alleged seats, that one is the biggest restaurant in the country. The one recently opened in The Gate has a lot fewer than that, but was pretty damn big, and heaving when we visited, a positive sign for any would be buffet-goer. We went in.
|This is what Globalisation looks like|
The general idea is that all the major world cuisines are present and correct allowing the consumer to journey around the planet like some latter day sauce-encrusted version of Phileas Fogg. Some of it is under heat lamps or on hot plates, some of it is made to order. The intriguing possibility of a plate containing all of a sunday roast, sushi, pad thai, a rissoto and a bit of naan bread presents itself. They've taken all the complexity and wonder of the globe, flattened it out, Disneyfied it a bit and called it a food. Baudrillard would've bloody loved it. But he wasn't there and I was, so let me tell you a bit about how it actually tasted.
|India, mk 1|
|India, mk 2.|
|Japan, I think.|
I've no idea what country we were in here, as neither cake nor ice cream machines are, as far as I know, indigenous to any particular tribe of man. We were, temporarily and culinarily, de facto stateless persons. How exciting! There's a tonne of not unpleasantly artifical tasting cakes and pastries, jellies, a chocolate fountain and an ice cream machine. Accoutrements pour les glaces included smarties and jelly beans. A nice unlimited touch.
|Deserts mk 1|
|Arty b+w ice cream machine shot|
|Puddings mk 2|
I suspect that whatever crew is behind this gig is of South Indian extraction, as all that stuff tasted really quite decent, some of it actively good. If you've got kids this could, at certain times be an excellent place to take them, especially after a film or whatever. The long and short of it is that, culinarily speaking, Za Za Bazaar wasn't up to much, although perhaps that's missing the point. It's all about the choice! The whole "hey, you, let's go on a global voyage!" schtick was amusing and bewildering in equal parts, but I can get both of those from an episode of Twin Peaks. Plus, watching Twin Peaks doesn't leave you with the distinct and queasy impression that you've just ingested a failed state's GDP-worth of food all in one go.
Za Za Bazaar, Unit 8/9 The Gate, Newgate St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5TG