Saturday, 10 January 2015

Review: La Petite Creperie & Nan Bei Dumplings, Grainger Market, Newcastle upon Tyne

The foodification of The Grainger Market continues apace. Turn your back for just a few weeks and another street-foodish unit has popped up. And, praise be, they're all pretty damn good! If you were so minded you could do a tapas-style tour of the place, taking in freshly shucked oysters, pizza, Turkish mezze, seafood noodles, cupcakes, macarons... and now, crepes and dumplings. This is all a far cry from the market I knew 10 or so years ago, but it's a fine development. Over the past few weeks we tried out the aforementioned La Petite Creperie and Nan Bei Dumplings: let me now tell you about them.

Crepes happening
The cheery Gaulish gents behind La Petite Creperie sound like they're super-busy catering at events here, there and everywhere, as well as running their unit. I like a sweet crepe as much as anyone else - what breed of madman isn't partial to a pancake? - but it was their offer of buckwheat gallettes that caught my eye. One of my French cousins came to stay with us a few years ago and made these Northern French specialities and they were a bloody revelation. The flavour of the buckwheat pancake is hard to describe; deeply savoury and wholesome tasting, that'll have to do. The classic filling of ham, cheese and egg makes for a superb snack/light lunch.

Ham and Emmental Gallette
La Petite Creperie's version was a winner, with salty ham and melting emmental lurking within nicely crisp pancake. A slightly stronger buckwheat flavour in the pancake and some top-rate ham would have have made this perfect. And more cheese. Always more cheese!

Banana and Nutella Crepe
Kasia wasn't leaving without trying out one of the sweet efforts. A nicely made crepe, with a load of banana and nutella is always going to do the job. These are perfectly good savoury and sweet crepes, and a will hit the spot if you fancy one. £3-£4.50ish a pop, depending on what you have on them. 7/10.

While I reckon I can easily turn out pretty solid pancakes/crepes at home, I can't say the same for steamed dim sum style dumplings. Step in Nan Bei. I stood and admired the chopstick dexterity of the proprietor, shaping perfect little dumplings at an impressive rate of knots, while I decided what to order.

Stumped, I asked for a mix-up of 6 steamed dumplings. They took about a minute to arrive. A bunch of condiments - soy, vinegar, garlic, chilli and ginger oils and chopped scallions and coriander are on the counter for you to help yourself to in the interest of pepping up your dumplings. I bunged a bit of all of them on.

Let me tell you, these are the business, plumptious little treats as they are. The dough is toothsome but yielding, and wonderfully slippery; the fillings taste clean, fresh and vibrant. I think the pork and cabbage was best, although the beef one was great too. £3.50 for 6 dumplings just about felt ok, although it's more of a hearty snack than a full lunch. I'm giving them a pass on this as they were delicious, and something quite different to anything else in the market. They've got an interesting sounding selection of teas too. Next time. 8/10.

There you have it; Grainger Market continues to surprise and impress. Now, if they could just sort out some weeknight opening hours that would let me get there at any other time than a Saturday...

La Petite Creperie, Unit 166 Grainger Market.

Nan Bei, Unit 62 Grainger Market


  1. I will definitely be popping into The Grainger Market next time I'm in Newcastle, it looks so different from when I lived in the area! The pancakes look amazing and I would love to try some dim sum, I think I've only had it once.

  2. Yeah, it's all change since when I was a student. Or maybe I've got slightly different priorities these days?!


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