A Culinary Tour

All aboard for a whistle-stop culinary tour of September’s Seasonal Classics, presented by artisan Newcastle‘s award-winning Head Chef Andrew Wilkinson.

First stop, a refreshing berry spritz cocktail to sip as we got stuck into a quintet of canapes…

Inspired by the freshest of hauls from local producers and suppliers – from the glut of berries grown locally that crowned our cocktails, to the succulent pork sausage swaddled by crisp, flaky pastry – our canapes were deliciously moreish, the peppery sausage roll paired well with homemade scotch egg, while the fresh salmon with soured cream added a tang to the minted pea smash served on a crisp bruschetta toast. We really were eating, drinking and exploring everything the North East had to offer – from farm to fork.

Fast in the place of our canapes came a small pre-starter of cauliflower soup topped with a cheese crouton. Simple enough? It was incredible. So moreish, almost like a creamy chowder – artisan had certainly breathed new life into the plain old cauliflower and we began to understand the concept behind their monthly seven course seasonal suppers.

Next came our sculptural starter of ham knuckle terrine served with peas pudding, celeriac, apple and lightly crisp toast. The contract of the cold terrine with the cauliflower soup kept our taste buds alert – the ham was beautifully cooked so it fell to pieces in your mouth, hitting the crisp toast like waves in your mouth.

Our next course, and perhaps the most outstanding savoury dish, for me personally, was a nugget of monkfish served on a bed of curried mussels, coconut, carrot and coriander. Almost oriental, with the coconut milk – it was a lively twist from the solid English classics we’d enjoyed already and so delicately flavoured.

artisan had pulled out all of the stops for their main of venison loin served in a rich red wine gravy, wilted greens and a braised shoulder of venison pie with a puff pastry lid. Served pink, the meat was wonderfully juicy with that distinctive rich gamey taste. The pie crust added an autumnal touch to the dish, perfect for the change in weather.

The restaurant had begun to fill around us, with many diners also embarking on artisan’s Seasonal Culinary Tour with us. Our pre-dessert was a magnificent wild plum fool. Tasting what I can only describe as a Swizzels Matlow drumstick lolly it was tangy, refreshing, creamy and absolutely delicious. Without a doubt one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten – I could have eaten several!

It would take a very complex and worthy dish to crown the sensational supper we had just enjoyed at artisan, and Andrew’s iced apple crumble parfait served with fresh blackerries and yoghurt killed it! Another beautifully presented dish, the tart, icy partfait served with crunchy crumble pieces and tangy blackberries was a fantastic palate cleanser after the rich venison and curried mussels earlier.

Prosecco and Pie was certainly very impressed – the concept behind the evening was translated to our tastebuds beautifully. We were very kindly invited to enjoy this month’s seasonal showcase at the request of artisan, but at just under £40 per person for seven courses, their monthly themed seasonal suppers are excellent value for money given the taste and presentation of each dish. There’s also the option to include wine pairings with your meal – but as the designated driver this evening, sadly I had to decline.

artisan by name, artisan by nature – the restaurant’s setting next door to The Biscuit Factory art gallery is of course no happy accident, but the food clearly echoes the talent of the artists showcased next door but in artisan’s case, the plate is their blank canvas in which the very capable team add colour, flavour and beautiful presentation to create a truly memorable evening.

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