In a nutshell
Quirky British in both cookery and décor – inside there’s exposed brick and white-washed walls, bird cages everywhere and a spot of nouveau taxidermy going on. The menu is particular and confident, preparing seasonal produce in a funky way.
MasterChef The Professionals 2010 finalist Dave Coulson is the head chef and co-owns this two AA Rosette and Michelin-recommended restaurant.
What are they cooking
The menu hints at the adventure to come, with baffling dish descriptions such as ‘halibut, chicken pie, mash, mushroom’. A fillet of halibut on a thin piece of pastry is joined by all the elements of a chicken pie and held together by the mash and mushrooms. Provocative, but it works – no wonder it gained Dave his place in the MasterChef hall of fame.
Staff know what they’re talking about and are keen to share their knowledge. We discovered that the team grow their baby veg and herbs on a local allotment, and that head chef Dave is a Mod, as referenced by his starter of ‘lambretta, wild garlic, seaweed, anchovy’. (A play on the dish porchetta. You knew that.)
One of two vegetarian starters, ‘duck egg yolk, cauliflower, hazelnut, secret garden veg’ translated to a smooth, mousse-like confit yolk sat upon an egg-white shaped mound of cauliflower purée topped with delicate rose petals, violas, red-veined sorrel, lemon zest and seasoning. It’s been done before, but the taste combinations still rocked.
Despite the clever menu and comfy seats, the overall dining experience at Peace & Loaf is old school, with amuse bouches forthcoming and a comfortable level of crumbing down by the attentive staff. Any qualms you might have of ordering starters up to £14 and mains of £25 in a sleepy little suburb of Newcastle, are knocked into touch by the volume of gratis morsels.
Sweet-and-sour retro brown shrimp cocktail, homemade crisp sandwiches, and red pepper and parmesan macaroons presented on a wedge of parmesan rind were two of four amuse bouches served pre-starter, and our mid-course amuse bouche was a ‘deconstructed breakfast’ of black pudding, sausage, mushroom and tomato purées on bruschetta.
What’s the room like/atmosphere
The restaurant is set across three mezzanine floors, with a small street-entrance bar, an open-kitchen and seating level, and then a more cosy, quieter balcony floor.
Menu must-orders and misfires
Try every dessert by ordering the assiette of desserts (£16; serves two). The ‘miso, parsnip & dipping’ turned out to be a riff on a sticky toffee pudding with a dripping pastry case, parsnip and miso tart filling and sweet parsnip cream topped with shavings of tart pickled parsnip.
Saying the drinks menu is extensive is an understatement: there are all sorts of cocktails, dessert wines (including sherry and port), spirits and beers. Wine-wise, we enjoyed the honey-like White Rabbit Riesling, that brought out the flavour of the artichoke in the ‘scallop, jerusalem artichoke, chicken wing, truffle’, and a buttery, slightly oaky Italian Pietrabianca Chardonnay 2013.
There’s also a palate cleanser: the boozy sorbet of the day. This was homemade black cherry sorbet, served in martini glasses, sprinkled with popping candy and topped with amaretto and prosecco at the table in front of us. As well as delighting the kid in me, it was fit for purpose, and wasn’t anywhere near as sickly as it sounds.
What else did you like/dislike?
The Jesmond district of Newcastle is predominantly a student area, so there’s not much around other than a couple of cafés and student pubs. If you are planning a weekend away, make your base the Jesmond dene house hotel, which is a 10-minute drive down the road.
Peace & Loaf is somewhere you can stay all evening discovering one taste sensation after another. If you are adventurous with your food, you should treat yourself to a table at this exciting restaurant.
Written by Liz O’Keefe, April 2016
217 Jesmond Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
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