I’m really sorry to have received an email update today from Laneberg Wine informing customers of the impending closure of the business.
This adventurous, ambitious venture will be missed though I feel certain that the winemakers behind the brand will continue to move forward with their skills and experience and we will be hearing from them again at some point in the future.
For anyone thinking of trying the wines, there is still some stock of their red varieties available in their online store:
I would like to wish Elise, Liam and all associated with the business well in their future ventures.
For some time I’d considered the best deal in town to be the afternoon treat offered by Porterhouse Butcher and Grill. For £9.99 it was possible to take a break from the bustling streets and stores of Newcastle’s busiest shopping district and sit in the quiet and calm space the restaurant offered. Sipping chilled champagne while grazing on savoury treats, I found it to be the most reviving, restoring and really quite delicious indulgence.
What impressed me was not only the wine from a respected champagne house – served perfectly chilled – but the thought and preparation which had gone into the tray of “nibbles”. Succulent anchovy-stuffed olives, a selection of nuts spiced and roasted beautifully and – something which has claimed its place in my list of favourite savoury snacks – truffle flavoured popcorn. A variety of colours, flavours and textures all of which complemented the champagne well. That afternoon offer achieved the goal I suspect it was intended to – to encourage the customer to stay or to return for a more substantial meal.
Over a period of months I tried light dishes in Porterhouse. Those light meals and “small plates” were all enjoyable with good quality ingredients carefully cooked and presented. On my last visit – just prior to the onset of pandemic-induced restaurant closures – the main feature of the meal was steak. Porterhouse offers a range of dishes but – as the name points to – what this restaurant is really about is good quality steak.
Cuts of steak come in many shapes and sizes and to make matters more complicated, different countries and regions sometimes use different names for the same cut. Not relying on the menu alone, I asked a staff member for advice and recommendation. This proved to be a wise move as the meal I received was exactly what I’d had in mind.
The 220g pichana steak was ordered. It came with a very simple garnish – watercress leaves – and a portion of chips along with a selection of mustards and a béarnaise condiment. The presentation could not have been plainer in fact I’d describe it as austere. The simple display served to make the meat the focal point. There was nowhere for the chef to hide. No pouring sauce to cover imperfections whether in appearance or flavour, no frills to distract. The steak would have to be cooked to perfection and a very good quality piece of meat.
The steak was tender, juicy and packed with flavour, having been seasoned well enough to enhance but not so much as to overpower. The thin-cut chips ( people outside of the UK would likely call these French Fries ) were hot, crunchy and well seasoned. The watercress, which had appeared little more than a colourful decoration, proved to be a good compliment for the steak as it provided freshness and a peppery kick. To accompany the meal, a glass of Amaru Malbec was an excellent match – just as the waiter had advised it would be.
The cost of that 220g picanha steak meal was £19.90. (Currently £24.80) There are cheaper steak meals to be found in Newcastle city centre and, to be frank, that is part of the reason it took me a while to stay for a full meal at this restaurant. A mental barrier had initially gone up at the idea of spending this amount on a meal at a venue other than a “proper restaurant” – one where it would be easy to sit and relax and I’d be happy to pay for the restaurant experience as much as the food itself.
What those occasional champers-and-nibbles treats had provided was the opportunity to discover that once inside the dining area and settled, it really did offer a “real” restaurant experience. Staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, food was cooked very well using top-rate produce and the ambience was really quite enjoyable.
The decor of the dining area is what I would term a muted monochrome with cheerful additions of colour. Rather than a severe black and white contrast, ivory colours are set against a backdrop painted dark brown and upholstery in a muted orange shade adds warmth. Marble topped tables add to the cool, airy feel of the dining area. Should you wish to watch the chefs in action, stools are available to sit at a counter and watch over the food preparation area. The restaurant is not fully closed off from the store, so it is still possible to observe activity in Fenwick’s Food Hall, but I can’t say I’ve found that feature either noisy or an intrusion.
You may be wondering where my descriptions of starters and light meals are hiding. Reviews on those dishes will be included in a future review because – and this is not as complicated as it sounds – they came from a different restaurant! Porterhouse Butcher and Grill is situated immediately adjacent to another 21 Hospitality Group restaurant, The Saltwater Fish Company. Another reason for my hesitance to dine at Porterhouse had been, quite simply, my preference for seafood. It took me a very long time to learn that these two restaurants operate what I would term “a mix and match” approach. On many an occasion I’d been undecided whether a juicy steak main course trumped a succulent seafood starter until I eventually “twigged” that I could combine the two.
Steak cuts and other main courses from the Grill Menu range from £19.90 to £41. Snacks are offered for around £5 and “small plates” are priced from £10.50 to £18.80. Desserts cost from £6 to £9.50. In addition to the Grill Menu, a blackboard list offering larger cuts of steak and a mixed grill menu allowing customers to compile their own selection of items is available.
Wine is offered by the glass starting from £6.70. Bottles begin at £26 and go North (quite a long way North!) into the range of wines which the restaurant describes as its “Big Guns”.
Look out for offers such as the one currently available at the time of publishing: “Autumn in the City” which includes a 150g rump steak served with peppercorn butter, watercress and shallot salad and thin-cut chips for £14.50.
Porterhouse Butcher and Grill is situated on the ground floor of Fenwick Department Store. The nearest store entrance is located on Northumberland Street and can be accessed without the need to negotiate steps. Although the restaurant does not have it’s own bathroom facility, several toilets and washrooms are situated within the store and are accessible by lift or escalators.
In my opinion, the cost of meals at Porterhouse mean that this venue is one I’d have to regard as a “treat” rather than an everyday fuelling station. In some respects, this reflects my personal approach to buying meat products in general. I’d rather eat a small amount of a very high quality product infrequently than purchase cheaper meat more often from outlets where the source of the products and their farmers’methods of rearing and feeding animals is unknown.
This in-store restaurant from the 21 Hospitality Group offers freshly prepared food from carefully selected producers. Staff are approachable and friendly and help customers make menu choices that they will enjoy without, in my experience, attempting to up-sell either the food or wine. The dining area is comfortable, airy and provides a good atmosphere in which to relax.
Executive Chef: Chris Eagle
Address: Porterhouse Butcher and Grill, Fenwick Food Hall, Northumberland St,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7AS
Telephone Reservations: 0191 239 6612
Restaurant Website: porterhousencl.co.uk
Store Website: fenwick.co.uk
Reservations can be made through Open Table’s website or App
A butchery counter is located at the entrance to restaurant, within Fenwick Food Hall.
I was pleased to receive an email a few days ago from 21 Hospitality Group, the group of restaurants and cafes in Newcastle and York headed by chef Terry Laybourne. I was pleased to learn that Porterhouse, one of the group’s restaurants within Fenwick department store in Newcastle city centre, is once again able to offer dining seven days a week and I was glad to have my memory jogged back to the last time I dined there.
To be more specific, my visit to Porterhouse in March 2020 was the last time I ate out anywhere – just as the global pandemic was beginning to apply its grip and activities which we had come to view as normal began to be curtailed.
I remember my thoughts as I sat at my table watching the staff working around the grill and service areas: “This may well be my last visit for a while”. As the months passed, I started to view that meal out as a sort of pre-Covid personal landmark . I pledged to myself that if this restaurant could survive the financial and practical difficulties the pandemic was causing that I would make it the first restaurant to head for when the dust settled from this extraordinary global event.
I wondered what might have been holding me back from reviewing the restaurant. Perhaps uncertainty about prospects for the survival and continuation of businesses in the post-pandemic phase had been acting as a restraint. Now, with the restaurant up and running, it’s time I converted my recollections and scribbled notes into a report. Look out for a review of Porterhouse Butcher and Grill midweek.
During the Covid-19 “lockdown”, when I was trying to put together a gift hamper, it struck me that a jar of Fortnum and Mason’s marmalade and a tin of their tea would perfectly complete my basket of goodies. In the “B.C. Era” – that’s Before Covid – I’d pass through Heathrow’s Terminal Five about once a month and often stop by Fortnum’s outpost at the airport to pick up a few gifts. The pandemic had curtailed that opportunity, sadly.
With no trip to London on the horizon, I searched for Fortnum’s website and discovered the items I wanted were readily available to buy online. Despite having only a few items on my shopping list, I whiled away a considerable amount of time examining all of the categories. I gravitated to the drinks “department” and saw a Bacchus wine on display.
Once again, I must offer my gratitude to Mr Gordon Ramsay* – on this occasion for introducing me to the Bacchus grape variety. Having arrived at Heathrow far too early for my flight a few years ago, I passed the time in Chef Ramsay’s Terminal Five restaurant, Plane Food. I ordered a main course of bream. “The Bacchus” came the reply when I asked the waiter which wine might best match the fish. The wine/food match was spot on and I was truly smitten with the wine!
When the opportunity arose to try a Bacchus from another winemaker, via Fortnum’s website, I could not let it pass me by. A further intriguing discovery clinched the deal. Reading the ‘product information’, I learned that the wine had been produced in the North East of England. Further investigation revealed that it had been made by Laneberg Wine based in Gateshead. This wine had been produced six miles from my home! For someone living in an urban area and also in the northerly half of Great Britain, this news was wholly unexpected.
With a little further research, I learned that Laneberg Wine is produced by Elise Lane at her family run firm which seeks out the highest quality grapes from across England.
Soon, my bottles of Bacchus 2019 were making a return journey to the North East of England and they arrived very well packaged and protected.
The Bacchus 2019:
When I opened a bottle for the first time, I was struck by the intensity and the freshness of the elderflower aroma. The fragrance was powerful and transported me in an instant to a summery English countryside scene. Pouring the wine and swirling it in the glass released not only the elderflower perfume but added scents of grass and sharper fruit – apple and a hint of citrus. Those scents were reflected in the wine’s flavour but there was an additional herbal layer followed by a lingering, spicy aftertaste. The wine was as refreshing and beautifully floral as I hoped but rather more complex than I’d expected.
A few weeks ago, I decided to chill one of the bottles ready for the upcoming weekend as I thought the food I’d planned would match it perfectly.
Beginning the weekend with grilled sea bream fillet accompanied by pesto mashed potato and fine green beans, this wine worked every bit as well as my experience in that first encounter at Heathrow.
The next day, asparagus risotto was on my home menu. With English asparagus at its peak, the risotto was superb and the pairing with the Bacchus was just sublime. ( I feel compelled to explain: my Kenwood K Cooker tackled the preparation and cooking of the risotto for me. Without this piece of equipment, risotto would not be one of my culinary strong points!)
Finally, grilled salmon with steamed, fresh green vegetables was another very good match for this wine.
There is so much more which could be written about this wine and the Bacchus grape variety but I’m not an expert in viticulture or wine tasting, merely an enthusiastic consumer!
There is also a great deal more I could write about the Laneberg winery but I’m holding back on that right now. I very much look forward to visiting the winery for a tour and tasting experience when it is possible to do so and that will be a far more appropriate time to put pen to paper once again.
You can buy Laneberg’s wines directly from their website. The wines are also available from several retailers and they are served in a list of restaurants. I’m not going to attempt to list those outlets here, far better to go straight to the website to get up to date information:
* PS: Just in case you are wondering about the previous occasion when Mr Ramsay provided me with much appreciated information – pop over to capitallettersdotblogwordpress.com where you’ll find a review of “La Garrigue”, an Edinburgh-based French bistro!
Am I alone in thinking that we can travel the world sampling wonderful wines and food and yet be oblivious to what we have on our own doorstep? Based in the North East of England and living in an urban area, the last thing I would have expected to find in my locality was a winery. Yet, a winery is exactly what I did discover though via a rather circuitous route. Via London, to be precise.
The tale of how I came to find this urban winery – and a review of one of their wines – will be soon be posted on EatNorthEast.
Well, of course, I didn’t do any such thing. These dishes were prepared for me to heat up and serve at home. And yet, I felt a sense of accomplishment which I hadn’t anticipated. I’ll come back to that discussion later but first, let’s get down to describing the food.
The process of ordering a House of Tides @Home meal online is quick and easy but I also telephoned the restaurant with some queries while I was in the process of placing the order. The staff I spoke with were welcoming and helpful. I had a particularly interesting conversation with the restaurant’s sommelier. ( I have learned – perhaps the hard way – that listening to the sommelier serves only to enhance the experience of meal. Another subject I’ll come back to on a later occasion!) Being at home and only having access to online deliveries, wine choices were always going to be limited. None the less, the advice and recommendations of wine types to match the various courses were very helpful.
A “Pre-Starter Starter”:
An “amuse bouche” was included in this menu. A light, smooth, smoked cod’s roe dip to be eaten with onion palmiers. The charred onion flavour of the crisp palmiers was more intense than I’d anticipated and it struck me that this might overwhelm the delicately flavoured mousse. But it did not. The combination of flavours and textures – smooth with crisp – was perfect.
(May I add at this point, I would not normally associate a Michelin dining experience with having a little plastic pot on my plate! What might appear to be laziness on my part is, instead, a reflection of my dislike of waste. I refuse to waste any of the dip while ‘decanting’ it and I refuse to indulge in unnecessary effort.)
A Jerusalem artichoke velouté with a garnish of hen of the woods mushrooms, roasted hazelnuts, artichoke pieces and chives.
Jerusalem artichoke soup is something I make at every available opportunity while they are in season. It’s simple to make and, in terms of flavour, it’s one of my favourite soups. I had hoped this version would be as good as my own home-made. ( Ooh, get me! ) This turned out to be masterclass in how to make and serve a simple, vegetable based soup.
The velouté was velvety smooth and intensely flavoured with that hint of smokiness and earthy flavour which artichokes have. The hen of the woods appeared to have been lightly pickled – or dressed – in a sweet fruit vinegar ( apple, perhaps? ) and that sweetness and acidity lifted this simple soup into something quite spectacular. The firm texture of the artichoke pieces, the crunch and flavour of the roasted hazelnuts and the freshness of the chives added further layers to the eating quality of the whole dish. I think I would rate this dish, though made from a base of very simple ingredients, as the stand-out course of the meal for me. It was stunning.
A small loaf of gorgeous malted bread was included – something I was still eating and enjoying the next day!
Baked Cod, Bouillabaisse Sauce and Mussels.
A fish course is my favourite part of a meal. Or, if given a choice for a main course, I will always choose fish over meat. This was the dish I’d been looking forward to most.
I sincerely hope the chefs who devised and prepared this dish will forgive me for displaying their creation in a less than flattering way, but I think the image can still convey the idea of what this fish course is about. It’s essentially a very fresh piece of quality cod nestling in a full-flavoured sauce. If I could be given the opportunity of having a second bash at preparing any of the courses of the meal, this would be the one!
Serving the fish the right way up would be a good idea, but even before that, I’d pay more attention to the cooking time of the fish. I can’t bear overcooked fish ( who can? ) and I often take the concept of erring on the side of caution too far. This fish wasn’t massively undercooked but it was definitely more translucent than I would have preferred. None of this really detracted from the dish, however. If I could have made one tweak, it would have been to take the saltiness down a notch, but this didn’t alter the fact that the outstanding feature was the freshness of the fish and that the fragrant bouillabaisse sauce complemented it very well. The mussels not only added texture to the dish but had that taste-of-the-sea that adds depth and freshness.
Chicken breast and wing with Boulangère Potato, Shiitake and Kale
For a second time, I should be requesting the chef’s forgiveness for displaying an image of another dish I’ve butchered – literally, this time – but on this occasion, it was only the carving and presentation which was lacking. I had paid more careful attention to the heating instructions with the end result that it was cooked (almost) to perfection.
All of the garnish items were perfect – the kale, the mushrooms and the pomme boulangère. The chicken breast with its crunchy skin and the little tender boneless wing piece were excellent. The meat was moist, succulent, tender and packed with flavour. (If I ever cook this at home again, I’ll be even braver with the heat under the pan and render down the skin fat even further but as it was, it was delicious.)
The crowning item, however, was the café au lait sauce used to dress the dish. I’ll be quite frank here, I was disappointed to see such a small quantity of sauce in its little plastic container as I transferred the items from their delivery box to the fridge. (Usually, I provide my chicken portions with swimming trunks in preparation for dealing with the quantity of gravy I’m going to swamp them in.)
My fear was unfounded. When the cafe au lait sauce had been warmed and had taken on a more fluid consistency, the quantity was exactly right to complete the dish. None of the taste profiles of the individual ingredients of the sauce were in evidence, but rather this was a perfect marriage of flavours. This highly flavoured sauce needed to be used in just the right amount. The only way I can think of to describe the sauce’s outstanding flavour would be to say that it was intensely “chickeny”.
A cheese course is an additional option with the @Home menu. I opted for it. (Is a cheese course worth the price? On this occasion, my answer would be “yes”, but we’ll have a full discussion on that theme another day.)
The set of four cheeses represented a classic selection in that a goat’s cheese, a soft white rind cheese, a blue cheese and a cheddar-type were included. All four examples came with a written description, not only of their flavours but of their provenance. I’m very much in favour of knowing the sources of my food and the reassurance this brings in terms of the producers’ methods and ethics and, ultimately, in the quality of food I’m eating. Clearly, much thought had gone into the balance of the cheeses in the selection and also in their quality.
The hand-made crackers, adorned with poppy seeds, were crunchy and delicious. The sweet, fruity chutney was as good as my home-made. (Yes, get me again, but I stand by that claim! I’ve been making chutney at home for over forty years and I’m really quite good at it!) I think the point I’m making is that the chutney was hand made and made with thought and care.
I did what Raymond Blanc taught me ( via the telly, sadly, and not in person ) in that I ate the cheese course before the dessert and tackled the cheeses in the order of flavour strength. This plate was something to really linger over.
Plum and Vanilla Cheesecake with Thyme Roasted Plums and Cinnamon Granola
Quite some time elapsed before I tackled the dessert. Perhaps one advantage of eating a multi-course meal at home is that there really is no limit as to how long you can take to “rest” between plates!
The dessert proved to be one of those dishes which has a deceptively simple appearance but outstanding flavours and great balance.
The cheesecake was softly and smoothly textured, so I assumed it was a ‘set’ cheesecake rather than baked. The plum jelly topping wasn’t there just to look smart, it had great depth of flavour as well as adding an additional texture. The griddled plum was firm, fragrant and delicious and the crowning feature was the cinnamon spiced, sweet, crunchy granola.
There is an expression which I often misquote but it goes something along the lines of “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”. In other words, all of the items forming this dish were good in their own right but put together, they were excellent.
And to finish:
The final part of the meal was a dainty petit four: a softly set, bite-sized chocolate tart. A dark chocolate and miso caramel tart to be precise. With rich, deep chocolate flavour and a hint of saltiness, it was perfect little flourish on which to end.
If I had to choose between a “dine-at-home” option and a meal in a restaurant there would be no comparison. I’d eat in a restaurant every time. I’m not just paying for the food and the cooking skills, I’m paying for the experience. I want to discuss the dishes with the staff. I want to learn about the provenance of the ingredients and the accompanying wines. I want to enjoy the atmosphere and environment that only a restaurant can offer.
However, in these strange days which have been so profoundly altered by a global pandemic, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to enjoy really good food and to continue discovering restaurants and chefs from my region. I’m planning to write a blog article at a later date about the whole cook-at-home experience and whether or not it is something which is daunting ( it isn’t, is the short answer!) but for now, I’d be very happy to recommend the experience – certainly from the House of Tides kitchen.
Quite clearly, I did not choose the vegetarian option. However, my sheet of cooking instructions included those for the dishes I would have had, had I gone down the vegetarian route.
A caramelised onion cream cheese tart would have taken the place of the smoked cod’s roe dip. In place of the fish course, I would have enjoyed spinach and ricotta ravioli with pak choi and tarragon cream sauce. My main course would have been honey roasted butternut squash with black garlic, shiitakes and kale.
Having tasted the sublime flavours of that artichoke velouté in my own menu choice, I would have complete confidence in Kenny Atkinson’s team’s ability to achieve excellent results without meat or fish featuring in the dishes. In fact, I feel very tempted to try the House of Tides @Home vegetarian option for myself.
A dine at home menu for one is £50.00. A meal for two is £100.00 and £200.00 for four. The optional cheese course is £12.00 for one and £20.00 for two. Bottles of wine ranging from £28.00 to £30.00 may also be ordered online. The delivery charge is £12.00 within the available postcodes (NE1 – NE15 and NE20 – NE34).
I enjoyed my meal hugely and would be happy to order from the @Home menu again in the future. Of course, dining at House of Tides in person would be an even better option but, for now at least, the dine at home alternative is a very good one.
One Michelin Star, 2015 – 2020,
AA Restaurant Guide, Four AA Rosettes, 2017 – 2021
( please see the restaurant’s website for the full list of awards)
House of Tides, 28-30 The Close, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3RF
I can hardly contain my excitement! It’s been almost one year since the global pandemic started to re-shape our lives. Eating out is a treat I really miss.
My phone does that thing where it decides to display photographs from the same date one year ago and images of stunning food (in a London restaurant) were reminding me of what I had been missing these last twelve months.
With no immediate end to our current way of life in sight and with tantalising emails arriving from my favourite restaurants in London and Edinburgh offering home delivery, I felt rather envious of those who live within their catchment areas. Not to be thwarted, a little online research revealed that a highly-regarded local restaurant was also providing a dine-at-home option.
Quite why I hadn’t already visited House of Tides is something I can’t explain. It has been a missed opportunity. Now however, even in these days of “lockdown”, I had the chance to sample the handiwork of chef Kenny Atkinson and his team.
Look out for the upcoming review of this House of Tides @Home meal.