A few words of praise here then for a place we've frequented a bunch of times since it opened last year, and always enjoyed. And, as if that recommendation wasn't enough to have you high-tailing it over to Sandyford by itself, it's also somewhere you can go to eat out and enjoy a clean conscience. You see, all profits from Harissa Kitchen are ploughed back into the parent charity (or Community Interest Company, to be more precise) Food Nation, who do lots of very worthy and worthwhile things around food education.
Not only that, but they pay their staff the living wage. Not only that, but they source some ingredients from their own allotment. Not only that but the halloumi on their menu is made by Syrian refugees. I know, that last bit sounds a little bit like something they would serve at Regime, the restaurant in Nathan Barley, but no: it's actually true.
|All yellow and blue|
|Dips and flatbread|
|(Clockwise from top) Hooba mushroom sausages, batata harra, fried cauliflower|
|Harissa house sausage, polenta chips|
We drank Fentimans rose lemonade and home-made ginger beer, both of which went perfectly with these Levantine-spiced dishes. Had I not been driving and Kasia not been heavily pregnant, the booze options are various and excellent. Talking of being heavily pregnant I'm intrigued by the fact that the chef refused to serve the lamb meatballs cooked through to accommodate Kasia's condition. Would doing so would have ruined them entirely, or been a crime against minced lamb? Alas: we'll never know.
We took a bit of a chocolate tart thing home, and it was predictably great, all goo and richness. I say predictably because Harissa Kitchen is just a quality operation from top to bottom. There's not much on the menu we haven't tried and I'd happily have any of it again. Plus, the service is great. In a perfect world, every neighbourhood would have a cafe as perfectly formed as this at its heart. In this actual, tragically doomed world, on which we're all tottering madly around, I'll just have to jump in the car and head to Sandyford. And so should you.
Harissa Mediterranean Kitchen
31-33 Starbeck Avenue
Newcastle upon Tyne
0191 261 5501