Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Restaurant Review: House of Tides, Newcastle upon Tyne

I'm writing this having just sat through Newcastle not turning up to a major cup tie for the ump-bloody-teenth time, partly to remind myself of a fairer day, not so long ago at all. 2-0 against Chelsea was a remarkable reprise of the previous year's performance against Jose's lot. Chelsea sympathising friends were up visiting for a spot of football and merriment. Needing somewhere to round all this off I suggested House of Tides, thinking an expertly done Sunday roast would be an ideal coda to a fun weekend.

Well, the Sunday Roast is off for December, replaced by a slightly more festive - and more expensive - offering. I clocked some fairly salubrious ingredients loitering among its promises, so thirty quid for three courses is probably fair value. According to a waiter they're open every lunchtime during December, whereas they usually only do Sundays.

The charming heft of both the upstairs and downstairs rooms struck me again; they really are nice places to be. On scaling the steps and walking into the upstairs dining room, my hungover carcass found the lack of any visible right-angle slightly quease-inducing, but I soldiered bravely on as we all sometimes must.

Celeriac Veloute, Roast Scallops, Hazlenuts, Winter Truffle
The reward was a soothingly posh bowl of soup. The veloute still had some texture, which spoke of the vegetable it had only recently ceased to be. Two chubby Scallops were perfectly seared, but still full of bounce and verve. Like so many of the dishes they serve here, this one had a bit of everything; hazelnuts for crunch and some slivers of pickled brassica of some sort for acidity. The truffle didn't achieve much, apart from bumping the price per portion up a bit. Unless you're getting the absolute best, and it properly reeks, leave it off, it's not impressing anyone worth impressing. Anyway, never mind that, this was lovely bowl of stuff. Good portion too.

A quick note on the salmon starter I scored a taste of; it featured a quite stunning wodge of that fish which had been shown off to the best of its abilities by an unerringly good cure. As good a bit of salmon as I've ever tasted. Elsewhere, a potato terrine (see top of this post) from the veggie set menu also found favour.

Highland Venison, Dauphinoise Potato, Red Cabbage, Blackberries, Brussel Sprouts
My main was a vivid blast of colour. You don't see a lot of bright purple on plates do you? The caramelised sprouts were inevitably great, and the venison was jolly nice too, if just a bit over. Good gravy, acidity via brambles and interesting little crosnes things. Slight bummer re the dauphinoise, which, according to me at least, just wasn't. Not garlicky enough, and no visible use of cream. I'd call that a posh gallette, but what the heck do I know?

After employing some very good bread in helping others finish off the contents of their gravy jugs, I was pretty stuffed, so no pud needed. They all looked immaculate though, and seemed to go down very well.

Having been to House of Tides three times now in it's first year, and eaten off three different menus I can tell you that the standard of cookery is consistently very good indeed. I've really enjoyed every time I've been, and there has been at least one or two things per visit that have been just outlandishly delicious. Reviews from the Southern contingent on this visit were very positive. Service is light years slicker than when they first opened although I still think that having plates come out on trays, to be delivered by a second member of staff, sits a bit askew with the stated aim of informality, as does the old napkin re-fold trick. With it being a very bright lunchtime, it was really apparent how lovely a lot of the crockery they're using is. The glazes on some of the bowls in particular are gorgeous.

It feels like there is a truly superb restaurant that, with just a tweak here and there, is very bloody close to happening. It was good to see the dining room full by the time we left. If you still haven't been, strike now while they're open at lunchtime and see what you think.


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


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