Bank holiday shopping in the middle of Newcastle is pretty much a recipe for disaster. Overcrowded, too hot, no parking spaces, screaming kids, stressed out women, bored blokes. I may be generalising quite a lot, but it’s happened so many times I’m a firm believer that the centre of Newcastle on bank holidays is for eating and drinking. This bank holiday I took full advantage of my dad announcing he would be going to town and having a late lunch at the Saltwater Fish Company, followed by a few gins, and decided to tag along.
Nige hates town, he hates the general public, hates shopping and hates anything remotely stressful, so he never goes. When he does make the decision to go, from years of experience I’ve learned that you don’t miss such an opportunity. Basically I crashed the parental day date after other Saturday plans fell through.
Heading in to Fenwicks food hall, and I was met with the never ending array of treats on offer spread out in front of me. I never get tired of a walk through this section. I spotted a rose macaron on the cake counter at Mason & Rye and made a mental note to return after our meal to get one. There was also a pop up Di Meos ice cream car too – great choice of ice cream. The Saltwater Fish Company is one of the many new food spots in Fenwicks that I still haven’t tried but heard good things about.
Waiting for our spot to come free I took the chance to have a look at the seafood counter. There was everything from all types of fish, crab, lobster, enormous king prawns, literally all types of seafood you could possibly want.
Our seats were ready, perched up at the bar, and I got my first proper look at the menu. With a 2 and 3 course fixed price option, a full a la carte menu, and the specials on the board there was plenty to choose from, all sounding pretty good. It really reminded me of the oyster bar in Harrods, and by this point I was seriously starting to question why I hadn’t been before.
There were at least three starters I could have chosen from, and the same for mains which is always a sign of a good menu. Apparently their menu changes depending on what they’ve caught that week, so it’s always going to be fresh. I eventually decided on the tuna tartare with avocado and soy to start, and the jumbo king prawn skewer in chilli and garlic for main. With a glass of rosé poured within a few minutes and a glance at the guys fishcakes next to me I was fully convinced I’d been missing out with this place.
Nige and I also ordered an oyster each, having both previously tried them years ago and both been ill. I was determined to like them, I love seafood but its the one thing I avoid, and I wanted to conquer the fear. Our starters arrived first and mine was a tuna tartare chunk, that just fell apart as you ate, into the soy and over the avocado base.
It was delicious, really nice and fresh served on a bed of crushed ice. All hope of trying my dads fresh crab was diminished when he polished it off before I got chance, and Viv was also munching away on the anchovy stuffed olives, which were good but they were very strong so only in small doses.
Next came our oysters. I made the full concoction, onion, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper, and down the hatch it went. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve learned to like tobasco over the years, or that I just wasn’t as scared to try it this time round but I did genuinely really like it. I’d have them again especially from the Saltwater Fish Company where they have them at a reduced price as part of a happy hour.
My king prawn skewer was the absolute winner for me, they were massive, cooked to perfection and absolutely lathered in garlic and chilli sauce. They filled the skewer and were so fat I had to cut the first one off to be able to slide the rest down, but they were a million per cent worth the fannying on. The shells just fell off them, and accompanied by bowls of fresh salad and French fries it was my perfect, all time favourite meal. If I was on ‘Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ that’s what I’d order for my last dinner.
There were a few deserts to choose from, but I still had the macaron from Mason & Rye on my mind so I didn’t order anything. I didn’t pay the bill (thanks Nige) so I can’t really say with total certainty how much it was, I remember thinking it was pretty standard prices for seafood, it definitely wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t overpriced either, and to be honest it was worth every penny.
Afterwards I legged it along to the cake counter and got my rose macaron to take away. I had it the next day with a coffee and it was every bit as delicious as it looked. As well as the usual macaron centre it also had a big dollop of jam in the middle too – amazing.
I spotted the new Noveltea product on the shelves as we walked back out of Fenwicks, which is basically an alcoholic tea blend, as an alternative to Prosecco with afternoon tea. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the launch event but you can read two great reviews of it here, Laura from ElleBlonde and Deb from My Boys Club.
After our meal we ventured along to the new Spanish and Gin bar – The Continental. It’s on Collingwood street on the opposite corner to Revolution, in a beautiful old building. It’s owned by the same people as Dacantus, so the menu is just as big, yet slightly different, and the old original safe vault is now used as their gin vault.
You pass it on the way to the toilets and it’s like being in Hogwarts. There’s so many gins to choose from depending on your taste, and we sampled a fair few that afternoon, each served with a different Spanish tapas. Out of all the ones we tried, the Brockmans with Tonka beans and lemon zest, the Botanist kiss with fruits of the forest, drop moon mist and pink peppercorns, and the Warner Edwards Rhubarb gin were our favourites.
I feel like in both the Saltwater Fish Company and The Continental, I really discovered two new gems in Newcastle this bank holiday weekend, both places I will be going back to in future. I really need to try more of the food spots in fenwicks food hall, and it’s great to have more gin bar options in Newcastle, especially when they’re that beautiful!
Other Newcastle foodie posts:
My 5 Go To Restaurants in Newcastle – although I may need a summer revamp!