82 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle
0191 447 7720
The simplicity and clarity of Bierrex’s stylish wood-and-marble interior is reflective of its menu and culinary ethos: get a combo plate, load up with three meats and two sides, and gorge on ribs, pulled pork, sausages, wings and Northern Irish brisket fresh from the smoker.
ROBSON & SONS
Haven Hill, Craster, Alnwick
L. Robson & Sons’ reputation as the spiritual and physical home of the kipper is hard-earned and fiercely defended. If the kippers in the attached restaurant were any fresher you’d have to wear galoshes while eating them.
5–7 Taylors and Tanners Court, Newcastle
0191 232 7950
Tucked away at the back of Blackfriars, this grillhouse comes with a couple of twists: firstly, it’s Korean; secondly, you grill the meat yourself at your table on a hot plate. Team marinated pork or beef with kimchi – acidic and tangy pickled cabbage beloved in Korea – for an authentically Eastern experience.
RC ROLAND & SON
26 Queen Street, Amble, Morpeth
Sometimes the old ways are the best, and RC Roland make a virtue of swerving new-fangled techniques in favour of traditional oak-smoking their meats in the same way that they have since their inception in 1904. They’re not known as ‘the steak people’ for nothing.
ROTHBURY FAMILY BUTCHERS
Heighley Gate Garden Centre, Morpeth
Foodie types have rediscovered the importance of a good butcher in recent years, and there are few better than Rothbury’s. Getting quality meat from Northumbrian suppliers is paramount here. Their sausages have taken national plaudits, and their smoked bacon is a thing of wonder.
THE DIRTY BOTTLES
It’s easy to get the grillhouse concept wrong and end up serving flat, monotonous meat in a sticky, unedifying environment. The Dirty Bottles gets it right, though: that their brisket and pork joints are cooked for a full 48 hours, plus the smoked ribs and wings from their smokehouse, make it a grillhouse of rare sophistication.
THE RIB ROOM
Ramside Hall, Carrville, Durham
0191 386 5282
Very much an upper-class grillhouse, The Rib Room earned an AA Rosette in 2012 for its 32-day matured Durham beef. You can even see how the next batch is getting on by putting your head round the door of their meat locker.
THE STAITH HOUSE
57 Low Lights, North Shields Fish Quay
0191 270 8441
Grillhouse cuisine isn’t just limited to rich, dark meats like beef and pork. Head Chef John Calton’s expertise with grilled game and fish, the latter fresh from the North Shields quayside, is extraordinary; in a part of the world where the zeal for quality seafood borders on mania, that’s really saying something.