With so many of us now bored with our own gallant efforts in the kitchen, we can’t wait for some real restaurant-style dining. Here’s the best of where to book and what to order when you do.
Where: The French Quarter, Newcastle
Why: This cosy, Parisian-style café is a far cry from fussy French dining. With a regularly changing menu of small plates and a superb wine list, it’s a great place for everything from a casual post-work stop off, to a special night out. The interior is pared back, the atmosphere chilled, the service is excellent and the food is simply fantastic.
What: We love the stuffed courgettes and tartiflette, but really the star here are the planches, a house selection of charcuterie, cheese or both, perfect for picking at alongside a glass of something special.
Arch 6, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SA
Where: Stuzzi, Harrogate
Why: Traditional recipes sit alongside modern Italian cooking and street food essentials to create a chaotic mix of gastronomic treats in this laid-back bar and restaurant in the town centre. Stuzzi is short for stuzzichini – little plates of Italian perfection served in small osterias and bars, especially in and around Venice. Made for sharing, they’re accompanied here by a careful selection of imported drinks, meats and cheeses.
What: The Aranchi; traditional Sicilian street food at its best – deep fried beetroot risotto balls with a melting centre of gorgonzola butter.
46B King Street, Harrogate HG15 5JW
Where: Barrio Comida, Durham
Why: A traditional taqueria serving tacos, cocktails and mescals, everyone was delighted when this former pop-up made a permanent home in Durham City. Taquerias are neighbourhood hubs, a place to relax and enjoy good food. The specially-imported tortilla machine takes pride of place in the restaurant’s open kitchen, turning out the freshest tortilla all day long, and whilst the food is inspired by Mexico’s culinary heritage, much of the produce used is locally sourced.
What: The atmosphere is worth a visit alone, but when you are here try the pescado tacos, Baja-style fried fish, shaved cabbage salad, habanero pickled onions and cream, with a side of chicharron (crispy puffed pork rinds) to share – all washed down with a traditional house margarita (or two).
34 Church Street, Durham DH1 3DG
Where: Fettle, Leeds
Why: Cosy, comfortable and with an emphasis on community, this friendly café-cum-restaurant may be understated, but it’s not to be underestimated. The menu is small, but striking nonetheless, with unusual flavour combinations begging to be tried.
What: The piquant salt beef, pickled cauliflower and caper berries is on the starter menu, but we could eat it by the truck load.
73 Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3BR
Where: Omni, Monkseaton
Why: The South-East Asian-inspired menu at this cute café, just a stone’s throw from the beach, offers fresh and vibrant flavours with the real taste of Asia. Open for lunch for steaming bowls of broth, enormous banh mi and their now-famous spicy coconut soup, and dinner (the dinner menu starts at 5pm) for delicious Vietnamese dishes created by Omni’s Executive Chef, who lived and worked in Hanoi, this is a great place to find something a little different.
What: Choose from the Bun Bo Nam Bo, a warm steak noodle salad with peanuts and pickles; or the Moo Crab, crispy pork belly stir fried with oyster sauce, garlic, greens and fresh chilli with a side of salt and chilli fries.
12 Front Street, Monkseaton NE24 8DF
Where: The Alice Hawthorn, Nun Monkton
Why: The Alice is everything you could wish for in a country pub; flag floors, cosy bar, low ceilings and open fires; it also has a great kitchen. The team here know how to consistently knock out the best gastro pub grub and it’s all served alongside a great selection of wines and well-kept beers. It maybe a relatively new addition to Yorkshire’s pub scene, but it’s a very welcome one, and is already making big waves amongst foodies in North Yorkshire. Book a table by the fire in the pub’s elegant but still cosy dining room, sit back and wait for the magic to happen.
What: The tempting menu is a clever combination of classics with a twist and The Alice’s own special dishes. In our opinion you can’t go wrong with chef John Topham’s famous Little Moneybags; cod, scallops, prawns, salmon, haddock and halibut wrapped in a light pastry case and puddled in a delicious lobster sauce, followed by slow braised beef cheek Lincolnshire poacher aligot, wilted greens, crispy shallots and smoked braising juices.
York YO26 8EW
Where: Vine, Middlesbrough
Why: Having taken the historic building (it’s an old abattoir) back to its bare bones, the team here have created a clever mix of old-world charm (retaining original features and a sense of Middlesbrough’s industrial heritage) and pure modern elegance. The globally-inspired menu is similarly sophisticated, with popular classics presented with a tantalising twist. Craft beer, an extensive wine list and speciality cocktails make this neighbourhood haunt a real favourite, and one we can’t wait to return to.
What: Smoked duck ham, pickled turnip, remoulade, burnt orange and fresh radish to start, followed by the mac and cheese with white crab meat and green chilli.
53 Roman Road, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough TS5 5PH
Where: Sushi Me Rollin, Newcastle
Why: Because we just love the guys here who produce the best sushi in North East. It’s different, it’s fun and it’s always delicious. Freshly made to order at their hideout on the first floor of the container village in the heart of the city, for those who don’t know their sushi from their sumeshi, it’s a good place to start. They do take-out too (great for a working lunch).
What: The Prawn Star – fried prawn, sesame, house pickles, tobiko, and wasabi – or the Chicago Roll, with Thai crab, avocado, seaweed, cream cheese and miso mayo. Can’t decide? The Chef’s Selection is great intro to sushi.
The Stack, Newcastle NE1 6QE
Where: Peace & Loaf, Jesmond
Why: Because Dave Coulson, Masterchef The Professionals finalist, knows about food (without fuss). His meticulously-crafted menu offers a new take on many classics, but it’s always exciting and his signature dishes are designed to be different. It’s all about tasting menus here (one is vegetarian), showcasing the best seasonal produce, and the menus change regularly to reflect this. The bright and airy restaurant is always busy and the atmosphere is fun and friendly in this little corner of Jesmond.
What: If you are lucky, the baked potato rosti with truffled Tunworth – basically crispy potatoes served with a soft cheese with truffle running through it – and the salt baked pineapple with lime and rum.
217 Jesmond Road, Newcastle NE2 1LA
Where: Eleven, Ponteland
Why: With a new set menu on the way, offering charcuterie, cheese and a sophisticated snack menu accompanied by a complex wine list, this new neighbourhood restaurant will have a regularly changing, five-course fixed evening menu showcasing the best local ingredients in an imaginative way. The three master-minds behind Eleven are set to take the North East food scene by storm.
What: We love the sound of the monkfish, ham broth, charred leeks and whey, and the mussels with January king cabbage.
11 Main Street, Ponteland NE20 9NH
Where: Träkol, Gateshead
Why: This popular riverside restaurant, in its rustic repurposed shipping container tucked under the Tyne Bridge, has gained a reputation for seasonal food, showcasing nose-to-tail cooking in an open fire kitchen, and combining basic outdoor-style cooking with stylish indoor dining. Despite the pared-back decor, it’s a cosy and vibrant space, made even better by its riverside setting and uninterrupted views across the Tyne.
What: Sunday lunch is served until 6pm here and it’s worth settling down to make the most of the rare breed beef sirloin served with all the expected sides, washed down with a pint or two of their craft beer.
Hillgate Quays, Newcastle NE8 2BH
Where: Pine, Wallhouses
Why: The newest kid on the hospitality scene, this gem overlooking the Tyne Valley, is the debut restaurant of Cal Byerley and Sian Buchan. During the day, Pine offers a a totally modern take on a traditional afternoon tea, and in the evening an inventive tasting menu carefully prepared in Pine’s open kitchen, using ingredients foraged from the surrounding countryside or grown in the onsite kitchen garden.
What: Who could fail to be tempted by an afternoon tea menu which includes such treats as cheesecake with apple and pine, Doddington’s cheddar and chive canelé, and a duck egg and rhubarb tart?
Vallum Farm, Military Road, East Wallhouses NE18 0LL
Where: Scream For Pizza, Sandyford
Why: Another mobile foodie outlet that became so popular it took up a permanent home, this time in Sandyford. It’s a little bit of Naples-inspired pizza heaven where creative and playful pizza pies are the order of the day. Scream for Pizza has won so many accolades it’s too long a list to include here (but mention must be made of Living North’s Informal Dining Award), but suffice to say they are the best wood-fired pizzas we’ve tried.
What: The Vegan Shuffle Truffle with its vegan cream base and chestnut mushrooms is delicious, but for pizza aficionados the Wor Margaret is a must-try (San Marzano tomato sauce (DOP), for di latte parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and basil).
21/25 Starbeck Avenue, Sandyford NE2 1RJ
Where: Pipe and Glass, Beverley
Why: Often referred to as ‘a Michelin-starred must-do’ the Pipe & Glass is perhaps one of the most accomplished and consistently excellent places to eat in Yorkshire. An inn lucky enough to have extensive gardens ready to supply the kitchen with produce and herbs, it really is all about garden-to-plate here, and whether you are after a sandwich in the bar, or the full-blown Michelin-star experience, all guests here receive the same treatment. There are even dedicated ‘little people’s’ menus for the kids.
What: The daily blackboard specials are always well worth checking out, but you just have to hope James has his pear and almond bread and butter pudding served with spiced raisin syrup on when you go.
West End, South Dalton, Beverley HU17 7PN
Where: Violet Green, Norton
Why: It’s all about casual dining – in an atmospheric old bank building – at Violet Green. Serving uncomplicated but delicious dishes in a stone-clad basement lined with banquette seats, it is cosy here, and the food is fabulous. There’s a small bar area for pre-dinner drinks but the restaurant is only open Thursday to Saturday evenings and for Sunday lunch, so it’s advisable to book well ahead for this popular little place. Everything is sourced locally and the tempting menu changes regularly, but expect to find starters such as ham hock terrine and main plates which include curried monkfish tail with rice crisp, sag aloo, celeriac bhaji and mint yoghurt.
What: Anything from the butcher’s block, served with triple-cooked chips, flat cap mushroom, sticky balsamic red onion and a choice sauce.
68a The Green, Norton TS20 1DT
Where: The Feathers, Hedley on the Hill
Why: It’s a multi-award winning pub serving delicious food in warm, relaxed and friendly surroundings. Rhian Cradock and his team are well known for producing some of the very best pub grub imaginable. With sustainability and animal welfare watch words at The Feathers, everything here is locally (and carefully) sourced to meet exacting standards, and it’s all documented on the menu which includes favourites such as old fashioned stews and pies alongside lighter simply grilled fresh fish, meats and moreish desserts.
What: The Feathers is exactly the kind of place you want to hunker down in after a bracing walk, for a leisurely Sunday lunch eaten by the fire in the cosy bar.
Hedley on the Hill, Stocksfield NE43 7SW
Where: The Whippet and Pickle, Holmfirth
Why: We love the ethos of this down-to-earth restaurant tucked away in the heart of Holmfirth, and whether you are looking for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, you’ll love their extensive menus which reflect their passion for food, seasonality and supporting local. Always looking to mix things up, dishes don’t always stay on the menu for long, but real favourites do tend to stick around. The two floors here mean you can enjoy a quiet coffee, simple sandwich, or a full-blown meal without ever feeling rushed, there’s even a 20-seater cinema (Film and Food nights are on Wednesday) and they’re dog-friendly by day, too.
What: Start with garlic confit duck leg herb waffle, fried hen’s egg and Sichuan maple syrup followed by chilli and lemon marinated monkfish.
14c Town Gate, Holmfirth HD9 1HA
Where: Seaview, Saltburn
Why: Just metres away from the beach at Saltburn, this bright and breezy seaside restaurant has sweeping views from its picture windows. As you would expect given its location, seafood features heavily on the menu, with local fishermen landing their fish and shellfish daily just metres from the door. It’s relaxing, fun and vibrant; and a family favourite – it has the best fish and chips for miles around – but there’s a great menu of both classics and modern dishes to keep everyone happy. When the sun is shining, find a space on the outside decking for a cheeky gin and tonic or two.
What: Whole sea bass barbecued in Korean spice with Asian salad, with parmesan truffle fries on the side.
The Foreshore Building, Lower Promenade, Saltburn by the Sea TS12 1HQ
Where: Hjem, Wall
Why: Not just because Hjem has deservedly been awarded a Michelin star for 2021, although that’s a good enough reason for many. Tucked away within the pub in the tiny village of Wall, Hjem has been making waves in North East food scene since opening. It’s a small, 24-seat restaurant with an open kitchen and pared-back interiors, which serves a clever mix of Northumbrian and Scandinavian flavours on an ambitious tasting menu. After spending years gaining experience in some of the best Scandinavian restaurants, Swedish chef Alex Nietosvuori and his partner, Northumberland-born Ally Thompson, have created a stylish destination restaurant in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall country.
What: Well it has to be the tasting menu (between 15 and 18 servings). Expect to find such delicacies as roasted yeast and smoked trout roe, hot and cold mackerel, creme fraiche and mustard leaves, and the much talked about horseradish ice cream with apple caramel and lavender.
Wall, Hexham NE46 4EE
Where: The Potted Lobster, Bamburgh
Why: Because it’s probably the best place for seafood on the Northumberland coast. Under the guidance of chef Richard Sim (who has just opened a new venture down the coast in Alnmouth), this cosy bistro in the seaside village of Bamburgh is all nautical knick-knacks and bleached wood. Serving fresh, local ingredients including fish from the local boats, and meat from the brilliant butcher almost next door, it’s a great place to enjoy a leisurely post-walk lunch or a more intimate dinner. There’s a separate dog-friendly area, a well-stocked bar and a small outside seating area too.
What: We love the half lobster with garlic mayo (just add chips) but for seafood fanatics, the platter for two includes a hand-picked selection of hot and cold freshly-caught seafood, served with hand-cut chips, salad and crusty bread.
3 Lucker Road, Bamburgh NE69 7BS
Where: Raby Hunt, Summerhouse
Why: The North East’s first and only two Michelin star restaurant, The Raby Hunt, in the tiny hamlet of Summerhouse, is owned and run by one of our most innovative chefs. Chef Patron James Close is known for his highly original, simple, yet visually stunning food and his love of theatre, seasonality and presentation are all very much in evidence here. As you would expect from a restaurant of this calibre, his tasting menu of 15 or more courses comes with quite a hefty price tag, but the experience is well worth saving up for.
What: Book a sought-after seat at the Raby’s special Kitchen Table and watch the chefs prepare your meal right before your eyes.
Summerhouse, Darlington DL2 3UD
Where: Cook House, Ouseburn
Why: This much-talked-about restaurant has self-taught chef Anna Hedworth at the helm. Cook House has two floors, a dining terrace, shop and garden where they grow as much produce to use as possible, and Anna hopes to add some bees on the roof. The kitchen is open to the upstairs dining room where seasonal and local are the watch words for everything that gets put on the plates here. The little shop sells Cook House ferments and pickles, and Anna’s homemade lemonade, cordials, kombuchas and tonics, which are all on the menu too.
What: You need to book well ahead to get in here, and brunch is no different (served 10am–3pm) but, when you do, expect to find deliciousness including porridge with poached pear, double cream, hazelnuts and maple syrup, and don’t miss the baked eggs with curried leeks, cream, smoked mackerel and sourdough.
Foundry Lane, Newcastle NE6 1LH
Where: Cena, Yarm
Why: This modern Italian restaurant in the heart of Yarm is exactly what we’ve been missing this lockdown. Fun, friendly and yet intimate enough for a special occasion, Cena is a great little neighbourhood Italian serving authentic dishes, and from the pasta to the pizza straight from the wood-fired oven, everything is freshly made and there’s a decent wine list to accompany.
What: It’s all good, but make sure to order a side of basil and sea salt fries!
85 The High Street, Yarm TS15 9BG
Where: Hibou Blanc
Why: We love this smart but friendly bar-cum-restaurant on the corner of Newcastle’s Bigg Market and High Bridge. The Grade II-listed Sunlight Chambers has been totally refurbished, cleverly retaining many of its original features and now oozing old school-style charm and glamour. There’s a great bar where you can sit and watch the world go by as you enjoy one of their carefully-created cocktails (there’s an extensive list) or a craft beer. There’s a strong focus on seafood here, but all the produce featured is locally sourced and seasonally driven, and the menu offers a carefully-curated selection of sophisticated comfort food each day – which makes choosing a very hard task.
What: This is the place for a long, leisurely Sunday lunch. Relax at the bar before sitting down to a traditional roast with all the sides, followed by decadent profiteroles with pistachios and hazelnut, accompanied by a bottle of Three Gardens Grenache Shiraz.
High Bridge Street, Newcastle NE1 1EN
Where: Black Swan Oldstead
Why: This family-run Yorkshire inn holds a Michelin star and four AA Rosettes, and their menu is packed with creativity and what Tommy Banks (Britain’s youngest Michelin-starred chef) can forage from the garden. Offering just one menu allows the team to bring together an experience you won’t forget. It’s a real find and an outstanding chef is at work here – one for true gourmands.
Oldstead, York YO61 4BL
Where: Skosh, York
What: The word ‘skosh’ comes from the Japanese ‘sukoshi’, meaning ‘a small amount’. It’s a small plates place, basically, but very much upscale: Grade II listed building, bespoke dining room, open-plan kitchen, the whole shebang. In two words: eclectic internationalism.
98 Micklegate, York YO1 6JX
Where: The Sandpiper Inn, Leyburn
Why: We love this local inn where owners Jonathan and Janine have built up a loyal following over the 20 years they have been at the helm here. They’ve also had the time to build great relationships with all the best local suppliers and that is reflected in the food served by the award-winning kitchen. The old oak floors, the log stove and candlelit tables all add to the charm of this welcoming pub (which is also dog friendly) and there are always daily specials chalked up over the bar.
What: The double-baked vintage cheddar soufflé is always a winner, as is the chicken on a chorizo, red pepper and king cabbage risotto with rocket and shaved parmesan.
Market Place, Leyburn DL8 5AT
Where: Rafters, Sheffield
Why: The recently-opened Rafters boasts unique tasting experiences which are designed to take diners on a culinary journey that encapsulates a nostalgic love of food. Their three-course Sunday lunch offers a unique and luxurious take on the classics, but there are treats awaiting you on every day of the week.
220 Oakbrook Rd, Sheffield S11 7ED