Monday, 21 July 2014

Restaurant Review: Sunday Lunch at House of Tides, Newcastle

Since we had a mostly stellar dinner at House of Tides, I had wondered if they were going to open for lunch at any stage.  The cheapest midweek menu still clocks in at £45 per head, not including service etc which takes dinner here into what for us is very much the "treat zone". When I heard they were indeed opening for Sunday lunches I got us booked up and then wondered what we'd exactly we'd be eating. A full-on roast presumably, but how would this most traditional of meals look once refracted through the "casual fine dining" lense? And what would the pre and post-roast options look like? Read on.

Bathed in natural light, House of Tides' innards are even more of a treat than in the evening. It's starkly handsome, hewn of great beams and pillars of imposing metal and wood. The menu held much promise, with starters and puds from the tasting menu appearing in what proved to be barely-noticeably simplified versions.

Looking out
Upstairs restaurant
Choices made, we were escorted up to the main restaurant where stonking timbers stand out against the whitewash. Bread, a mildly tangy warm sourdough number, was much improved on the previous visit.

White onion veloute, Paris brown mushrooms, chorizo
I generally avoid soups when eating out but a white onion veloute sounded the most appropriately soothing way to treat my slightly hungover self, and was all of that in spades. Farcically smooth, this had been forced through more sieves than I've probably ever owned. The peppery chorizo was a predictably perfect contrast and all the better for being dispersed evenly throughout the bowl.

Pink Fir Apple 1850, quail's egg, asparagus, celeriac
Kasia's potato dish was pre-announced by the whiff of an unlisted ingredient, black truffle. The spud had been pressed into a nifty terrine, layers being separated by slivers of tuber aestivum. A perfect deep fried quail egg and pickled microshrooms were other highlights on a well-mannered but stormingly good plate.

Main event
I'll admit that on presentation of the mains I could hear my inner glutton muttering something like "what, just one slice?" But what a slice of excellent beef. As thick as a half-decent steak and cooked canonically rouge, this was some excellent cow. Yorkshires had heft and flavour, as did roasties which perhaps just a touch wore the effects of crispness being sacrificed in favour of preparedness. Again, does two (perfectly turned) spuds feel like parsimony? Gravy was deep and rich and, crucially, arrived both on the plate and in an additional jug. Unpictured accompaniments were a very nice turnip mash and some plain steamed cauli/mange tout. By the time I was done I was pretty stuffed, so I guess the quantities are about right.

Vanilla Rice Pudding, Strawberries, Honeycomb
Puddings were both deserving of triumphant fanfare. My rice pud was a vanilla-laden decadent comfort of a thing, puntuated by strawberries in both fresh and dinkiliy jellied and gel-based formats. I bloody love honeycomb too.

Dark chocolate pave, raspberries, rose water, meringue
Kasia's chocolate effort was an only slightly modified version of the pud we had off the tasting menu and just as superb as before. The base is quite brilliantly, almost unsettlingly, crunchy. Full throttle chocolate flavour as more cutesy squares of jelly - this time of rosewater - performed the acidity function. It's perhaps no surprise that desserts were looking so great as Atkinson himself was prepping them at an upper floor open pastry section.

Service was spot-on, although the person-getting-plates-off-a-tray-someone-else-holds thing seems to sit at odds with the stated objective of informality. No matter. More importantly, I was recommended a vibrantly good glass of Brazilian red to go with the beef which packed the perfect level of tannin to complement iron-rich meat.

No doubt about it, this is a superb sunday lunch. The main act is handled with aplomb and the bookending courses offer up some creative, technically precise and totally delicious cooking. And there's the thing; food at this standard, at this price, is a total bargain. I can imagine people who considered eating here but haven't yet will now be tempted to do so. And they very much should. Think of it as a scouting mission for that next time the parents show up or something. For comparison, this is the same price charged by Brown's, Or, if you prefer, you could have 3.84 shots at the unlimited slurry and desiccated protein slice at your nearest Toby Carvery. "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are", said some French lad once. Which is a really pretentious way of saying nothing much. But anyway, House of Tides do a thoroughly top-flight Sunday lunch which comes highly recommended.


House of Tides, 28-30 The Close, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3RF
0191 230 3720


Kenny Atkinson House of Tides on Urbanspoon


  1. Mmmm, I have to try that beef! Love your down to earth review and once again you have won me over with the desserts!

  2. What a timely review. Having splurged significantly on the tasting menu a few months ago and having heard recently theyd started sunday lunches I had fancied giving them a try. Not much info on the website but your excellent missive has filled the gaps. Will be interesting to see how it compares with peaceandloaf's offering which I found pretty bloody good.

  3. Glad to be of service! A repeat try of Peace and loaf is in order...


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