Beautiful Thing #1: The view of the River Tyne, including the Tyne Bridge and the Millenium Bridge, from the Viewing Box of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
And the reverse view of the BALTIC, an old flour mill, from the Millenium Bridge. If you happen to be anywhere near Newcastle, go see Damien Hirst’s fascinating exhibition Pharmacy and marvel at the view.
Beautiful Thing #2: The plum tart from the charming and brand new six-week-old BUEE Cafe and Bistro at Side Cinema. I actually didn’t eat it; we went for the pecan pie and the raspberry cheesecake baked by the chef-husband of the proprietor-wife instead – more on that in a bit – but it’s a thing of beauty all the same.
Beautiful Thing #3: The goat cheese and roasted vegetable pizzaiola from Cafe Royal, a gem of a cafe amidst the shops of the city centre featuring artisanal bread from their own bakery.
So much to see in Newcastle and so much to eat! Let’s take a closer look at our two exciting foodie finds…
I say it all the time – one of my favorite things about traveling is the opportunity to search out unique or local or independent or just plain good places to eat. Sometimes it requires Googling or Yelp searches or asking locals for recommendations or wandering around in hungry desperation. Other times you just get lucky. Chris and I arrived in Newcastle mid-morning, dropped off our bags at the hotel, headed up to what seemed like the busiest area full of high street shops and chain stores and shopping malls, bypassed a few Prets and Subways and McDonalds, and then just got lucky.
Any time I stumble onto a place with an award-winning bread display like this, I consider myself in luck.
I wish I had written down some of the surprising and unusual flavors – I recall a loaf with lemon and one with raisins and something else intriguing – but more so, I wish I had bought a loaf (or five) to bring home with me.
Since I didn’t have an army or family to feed, I got only the veggie pizzaiola, piled high with roasted peppers, eggplant, squash, caramelized onions, and even a large slice of fennel, as well as the most enormous slice of goat cheese topped with a twist of black pepper. I almost thought it might be too much goat cheese for me to eat at once. Obviously, it wasn’t. Who am I kidding sometimes?
The cafe was bright and airy, adorned with stacks of jewel-toned jam and jelly jars, sugar-sprinkled pastries, and shelves of cute ceramics I would like to own, including an adorable mug that says ‘silly sausage.’ I am having severe non-buyer’s regret at the moment.
After a fast and furious day and night and following day of game designing and game running, we celebrated with a walk around the city, venturing over the Tyne to the BALTIC and back over the Millennium Bridge. I dragged Chris back to BUEE Cafe, which we had noticed just around the corner from our hotel. Having passed by what seemed like an endless supply of nearly identical chain restaurants, I was drawn by the cozy and casual vibe of the small storefront despite the fluorescent gleam of the kebab shop-style refrigerated display.
The menu left us with some difficult choices. Cumberland sausage and mash or pork belly? Gnocchi with basil sauce or Northumbrian steak? We decided to start with potatoes and raclette. Crispy potatoes smothered in a blanket of good cheese will never fail.
I ended up going for the coq au vin with mushrooms, roasted vegetables, and bacon and also ended up eating some of Chris’s excellent steak with onions in red wine sauce.
I loved the illustrations of Newcastle on the walls, the old school ceiling fixtures, the local beer, the charming waitress, and the effusively friendly Canadian owner. We didn’t get to meet her husband, but we did get to meet his raspberry cheesecake and his pecan praline tart. Enough of an introduction for me to think we could be great friends. I also loved my cute and comfy window seat in the corner.
If you happen to find yourself in Newcastle any time soon, go to the BALTIC, the cafe, and the bistro. And buy me a silly sausage mug. And while you’re at it, a loaf of bread. And a slice of plum tart. Pretty please?
8 Nelson Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
+44 (0191) 231 3000
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 3JE, UK
+44 (0191) 231 4080