Restaurant review - NE2 Food Social, Newcastle
PUBLISHED: 15:37 06 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:19 20 February 2013
Former North East Chef of the Year David Kennedy has opened NE2 Food Social - a relaunch of the outlet he ran successfully at the Biscuit Factory contemporary commercial art gallery in Shieldfield, Newcastle. But what's that new name about?
It was a lunch to remember. Starters were great, the main courses superb and the dessert to die for. But I cant bring to mind the name of the restaurant
Thats a bit unfair. Its probably my age. But NE2 Food Social doesnt easily trip off the tongue or stick in the mind. Its apparently the first part of the postcode, plus something which is meant to convey the social aspect of eating together. Mmm
The restaurant has everything going for it. A welcoming entrance, friendly staff, and a good atmosphere, although maybe a little on the dark side for a lunchtime.
We were welcomed by the restaurant manager, Robin Price - off duty, but just called in to say hello - who told us the clientelle included a lot of local business people.
How does it differ from the previous incarnation? We have tried to make it more contemporary, said Robin, three years with the organisation. Weve taken the staff out of uniform and tried to give it a kind of softer feel.
We stepped into the kitchen to speak to David Kennedy. We are really trying to make the restaurant more accessible, giving it a relaxed atmosphere and its going well.
It certainly seems to be. The service was efficient and friendly and our orders taken in a trice from a menu of nine starters and nine mains, plus grills.
I chose a Jerusalem artichoke risotto, with flaked smoked haddock and brown butter. I can honestly say its probably the best risotto I have every tasted. Every mouthful was a joy and I nearly scraped the pattern off the plate. Creamy and full of flavour, it was just superb.
My lunch partner also polished off his pigeon and duck confit terrine with cauliflower puree and toasted hazelnuts with equal alacrity, murmuring it was absolutely amazing.
My main course - a moist breast of chicken with wild leeks and pea puree - also came with a crunchy hens egg. This was a boiled egg, still runny in the middle, with a crisp breadcrumby shell. It added wow to an already impressive meal.
I always think that a good test of any restaurant is how they do a classic dish. My partner ordered fish and chips - thats beer battered North Sea Fish, home-made tartar sauce and thrice cooked chips. He said, and I quote: Thats about the best batter Ive ever had. There can be no greater accolade from a North East lad.
Desserts are also a good test. We plumped for just one - treacle tart and lemon curd ice cream. Id love to know how Chef manages to make a crunchy, caramelly top, with an almost liquidly syrupy centre and that truly lemony ice cream. Im running out of superlatives now. I shouldnt have eaten it, but I couldnt resist.
Along with a couple of glasses of wine - a clean Chilean sauvignon blanc and a soft pinot grigio blush - the cost was around 48. If thats a bit steep for lunch, theres a set menu - one course 9, two courses for 12.95 and three for 15.95
They also serve something they call social bites, which is David Kennedys take on tapas, using fresh local produce. It includes potted crayfish tails, beer battered marinated artichokes and chick pea chips, to name but three.
It was a really great lunch and David Kennedys hallmark quality is all over the food. Just not sure about that name
NE2 Food Social, The Biscuit Factory 16 Stoddart St, Shieldfield, , , Tyne and Wear NE2 1AN. Telephone 0191 260 5411