It seems strange to attribute the quality and desirability of a restaurant and its food to a tyre manufacturer, but we do. The hugely sought-after Michelin Star held by local chef Kenny Atkinson at his aptly – but evocatively named Quayside restaurant House of Tides is the result of a series of French guide books devised by brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin in 1900 designed to boost the demand for cars, and thus for car tyres.
I won’t pretend to know an awful lot about Michelin Star rated restaurants, nor have I ever eaten at one prior to our visit to House of Tides, but as a lass who likes her food I’d like to share my thoughts with you all. It being our first time here, our party of three decided to go bold and open our taste buds to new flavours with the six course Tasting Menu (£60pp). We ordered a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy between two and eagerly awaited our culinary adventure to kick off.
While the restaurant’s flagged stone floors, exposed brick, mock log burning stoves and tartan check soft furnishings are reminiscent of an old hunting lodge or country pub, the restaurant’s main dining area upstairs features the skeleton of a beautiful open fireplace, ornate ceiling plasterwork and mood lighting that casts a warm glow on the artwork around the room. I suppose I had expected white table cloths, fine china and silky piano music tinkling in the background – but the décor certainly didn’t disappoint.
We were soon gifted a series of pre-dinner snacks: Lindisfarne oysters topped with cucumber, ginger and caviar, miniature ice cream cones of chicken liver pate and bitesize haggis bonbons with brown sauce. The oysters were the clear winner for us, they were phenomenal and exceedingly moreish thanks to their toppings. Having never tried haggis before, I was pleasantly surprised (albeit thankful for a breadcrumb coating and brown sauce to potentially mask any sharp flavours) while the chicken liver pate a novel delight in its crisp cone.
So far, so bloody good.
We were then led upstairs to our table where a birthday card from the restaurant had been very thoughtfully laid out for me. Nice touch!
Despite it only being 7pm we were the fourth or fifth table in the restaurant already. Our tasting menu began with a beautiful Vichyssoise (five star leek and potato soup to you and I) made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. We would soon discover hidden inside our soup were chunks of fresh lobster and a dollop of horseradish and caviar. Freshly baked rye bed and salted butter was served alongside our first course before moving onto our second course of sea bass and mussels served in a coriander curry.
I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. The sea bass was cooked to perfection, the curry sauce was moreish, creamy and delicately spiced. The mussels were juicy and fresh and we all thoroughly enjoyed our second course. Our third course arrived shortly after with an impossibly pretty plate of Goosenargh duck confit terrine surrounded by miniature towers of apple puree, celeriac hazelnuts and truffle. We agreed not to think too much about what was on our plates and decided to tuck in open-minded. The hazelnuts added a totally new, delicious dimension of flavour to the duck, while the sharp apple puree elevated these complex flavours of the dish.
We were well underway by now and very much enjoying ourselves. The bubbles were going down nicely, the food has so far surprised and delighted our taste buds, but little did we know how good our fourth course of Cumbrian Herdwick hogget (lamb) served with asparagus, kohlrabi (a vegetable related to the cabbage family) and mint would be.
I’ve never tasted meat like it; the hogget fell to pieces in your mouth and was so unbelievably meaty and moreish. The mint puree complemented the flavours perfectly, while the crisp asparagus added a spring-like seasonal feel to the dish.
All too soon it was time for our fifth course: a pre-dessert of Yorkshire rhubarb, ginger biscuit, rosewater foam and rosewater “ash” with a icy sorbet nestled inside. Who knew rosewater foam would possibly be so delightful and refreshing? The spicy ginger was a bold flavour that worked well with the delicate rose without either flavours becoming too overpowering. Our sixth and final course of the evening was a dark chocolate and salted caramel torte (which I nicknamed “a posh snickers” ) served with incredibly flavoursome banana ice cream and tiny flakes of meringue.
The total bill including a bottle of Prosecco, water for the table, three tasting menus and our tip came to £85pp and I can honestly say it was worth every penny. Our staff were wonderfully attentive and friendly, there was a real buzz about the place despite it no longer being a newbie (House of Tides recently celebrated their second birthday) and the food completely exceeded our expectations. I expected to feel uncomfortably full after six courses but left feeling exceptionally well-fed and content.
(Booking your table online in advance is highly recommended, we waited almost a week to secure our midweek spot.)
The best meal I have eaten in Newcastle – I want to do it all over again!