Food, Glorious Food...

One of the best things we love about living in Whitley Bay is the amazing choice of venues around the town to enjoy some really great food. 

One such place offering a truly varied menu is The Roxburgh, It is ran by North Shields born Gary Dall who to say has acquired a whole raft of culinary experience through working as a chef all o er the globe is an understatement. Gary has truly had a globe trotting culinary career working as a tour chef with the likes of Sting, Amy Winehouse, Kasabian and Girls Aloud to name a few. 

Through his globetrotting role Gary was able to return to his native North East and open The Roxburgh in 2014. It has such a wonderfully laid back atmosphere and there are always some great tunes playing. 

Gary’s menu really stands out and you can enjoy the likes of crispy pig ears, bone marrow on toast and the legendary “Bacon Bad”. Fear not though for non-meat eaters as Lucy always finds something to enjoy on the menu. The Roxburgh is open for diner on Friday and Saturday evenings and offers one of the best Sunday lunches there is.

For this most recent trip Gary had vacated chef’s duties for the evening as ourselves and a fully booked Roxburgh were in for a very special “Hjem Coming”. 

And so on a Saturday night in wonderful Whitley Bay we were treat to one of the most sublime of dining experiences. For this “Hjem Comimg” Gary handed over the reigns  Alexander Nietosvuori who started at the age of fifteen, yes fifteen in Sweden at the two starred Michelin restaurant Daniel Berlin Krog. From there he has worked in Copenhagen, Chile, Norway and London. Hugely exciting he is bringing his talents to the North East as he and his partner Ali are opening “Hjem” in Wall near Hexham. 

We felt so privileged to be getting a preview of Hjem and to enjoy some fine Northumbrian produce with a Scandinavian twist. 

The Roxburgh has had a recent refurb and it really added to the warm atmosphere of the restaurant. The tables were all joined together into two rows and it was all part of the experience getting to know the diners. Part of the excitement was that the eight course menu was still under wraps but we all knew we were in for something special. All was soon to be revealed as the man himself came out from the kitchen and revealed the menu for the evening........

Beef tartar was our opener and Paul had always had a fear of it since watching the Mr Bean episode where he is served it for his birthday and he tried to conceal the dish to pretend he had ate it. No such worries here as it was a mini delight, in its sunflower seed tartlet, wood sorely and pickled pine. Beef tartar you say? But Lucy’s vegetarian! Fear not as Alex had created some special treats for her non meat palate.

Service was just the right pace to keep the momentum going and next to delight our taste buds was pancake with grilled and preserved garlic which was definitely not overpowering and worked a treat.

Our third course was one that literally rendered us speechless, duck egg with malted wheat and brown butter foam. It was so smooth and one of the most comforting things we had a ever ate. I think everyone would have happily ate another three of these.

Alex returned and introduced what we would be enjoying for our fish and meat courses (and in Lucy's case vegetarian courses) and the desert to finish. It was just lovely that we were enjoying this amazing experience in our home town and we felt very proud. 

Lightly baked cod with mussel sauce and nettle oil was our fish course and it just melted in the mouth and just the perfect sized portion to really appreciate it. To follow cauliflower with sea purslane which is a herb found in coastal regions. When you are being fed by the best it’s easy to say how simple the combinations and flavours are but it takes experience to make something simple taste this good and it’s about as far away from poncy as you can get.

For the meat course of lamb Paul moved from the crisp Sauvignon blanc we had been enjoying as our wine accompaniment to a glass of red. A good move as it complemented the meat so well. 

Desert time and Alex has perfectly introduced horseradish into a sorbet and it had the most amazing kick to it. And so to finish a delightful jam cookie which really made a perfect full stop on our outstanding meal. 

Alex came out to great and much justified applause. He is so talented and like many of the greats in their chosen field, very modest and unassuming. All we can say is that Northumberland is about to have an absolute gem of a restaurant opening soon and would hugely recommend you make a visit to Hjem and enjoy the work of a true artist. 

Thank you to Gary and all at The Roxburgh for hosting such a memorable and fabulous evening. Whitley Bay is a pretty fantastic place to live. 

One of the great advantages of having shops at the coast and in the city is the plethora of choices when it comes to eating out. It’s very rare for ourselves with all that goes into running your own businesses to make the time to enjoy so,e of the simple things and Sunday lunch is always something that falls by the wayside and something we needed to remedy.

So for a rare lured Sunday we alighted the metro and walked down Byker bank towards our destination for Sunday lunch, the Cook House. It is a place that we have both visited a few times before but this was our first foray to its new home on Foundry Lane just over the bridge from the Cluny. 

Anna Hedworth opened up the original Cook House just over four years ago inside a couple of old shipping containers on Ouse Street just next to the Victoria Tunnel entrance. Now she has moved to a larger two levelled premises which really suits the Cook House vibe. We were both very excited as already said it had been an age since we had enjoyed a good Sunday lunch.  The menu for Sunday lunch really offers a varied treat from lamb shoulder to pork belly and if you are in a group of four or more the rather wonderful temptation of a whole stuffed roast chicken to share. For ourselves Lucy was more than catered for with the vegetarian choices and selected tempura winter vegetables to start, green lentil and tomato daal for the main and we’ll leave the all important desert until later.  For Paul, sorely tempted as was to pull the table next to the group who had just ordered the roast chicken to share opted for the Block & Bottle charcuterie with pickles and sourdough as his starter and for the main played a bit of a curve ball and plummet not for lamb or pork but the salt beef hash with fried egg for his main.

House white to accompany for Lucy and the red for Paul. Where tempura comes Lucy sets the benchmark high and the Cook House more than met it. In fact for both us the whole lunch did. Paul literally was in food heaven as the yolk of the fried egg melted into the hash, true comfort food.  We were both fascinated to see the roast chicken arrive at the next table and the group in very democratic fashion selected the carver and was duly handed the knife.  It’s great to watch all the activity in the Cook House as Anna and her crew are all at their stations in the kitchen and what a well oiled machine it is.

Time to select deserts and Lucy had to chose between the dark chocolate and almond cake or the spiced poach pear. The chocolate cake won. And no surprising from Paul and no chance for Lucy to sample to pear as he opted for his usual, the cheese selection which came with pickled celery and sourdough. We were happily full and had greatly enjoyed our first proper Sunday lunch of 2019. Leaving happy and with the spring sunshine blazing we headed up the steps to enjoy a lovely Sunday afternoon in the Cumberland Arms. 

Just for info - Neither The Roxburgh or the Cook House were aware that we were going to be writing a blog about our experience at their establishments and we paid for everything ourselves. As you can probably guess we wouldn't hesitate to recommend either restaurant. And we can't wait to see what Alex cooks up in Northumberland.