It might occupy two converted shipping containers, but eating at the Cook House feels like you are sitting in Anna Hedworth’s kitchen. Warming yourself by the log-burner as the radio burbles in the background, you can watch Anna work at her open stainless steel range, chat and ask questions, as she – during its hours as a weekday, daytime café – rustles up plates of whipped feta and smoked leeks on toast with black sesame, wild garlic and spinach soup, a couscous salad with roast butternut squash, or a blood orange posset.
‘That intimacy is intentional’, says Anna, a former architect who graduated from blogging (the-grazer.blogspot.co.uk) and pop-up dinners to launching the Cook House 98 Omagazine.com in Ouseburn last August. ‘Before I opened, I went to work in a few London kitchens and the thing I took from that is I didn’t want to be head-down cooking in another room, churning out dishes. I enjoy people and putting an event together. The Cook House is about conviviality as much as it is what’s on the plate.’
That conviviality expresses itself in a monthly supperclub (June 4, £35), where Anna uses regional ingredients from, say, Charlotte’s Butchery in Gosforth, the Great Northumberland Bread Company and vegetables from her small kitchen garden, to create ‘modern British, St John-type’ sharing dishes – all served in the middle of the table – such as a bone-marrow laced game pie with duck fat potatoes, green beans and pickled walnuts. When she isn’t busy cooking at or organising events (Lindisfarne Castle, June 13; Jesmond Food Market, June 20; Ouseburn Festival Feast, July 5), Anna also hosts guest chefs nights, butchery classes, wine tastings and book launches at the Cook House. ‘I like the idea,’ she says, ‘of bringing interesting North Eastern folk together.’
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