Places To Eat In Newcastle: Cookhouse, Ouseburn
I have just returned from the most fabulous few days eating and drinking my way around Newcastle as a guest of Newcastle Gateshead, so today I thought I’d kick off my posts about the trip with a review of lunch at my most anticipated stop on the trip: Cookhouse in the wonderfully creative neighbourhood of Ouseburn with visited as part of Triple A Food Tour’s brilliant food tour of Ouseburn (but more on Amy’s brilliant tours to follow in another post!)
When I was last in Newcastle in 2015 Cookhouse I was still a fashion writer and I got to enjoy founder Anna’s brilliant food as she catered a Barbour event, at the time running a pop up out of a shipping container you can still see all closed up by the entrance to the Victoria Tunnel. Now, Cookhouse is a bright, airy, Scandinavian-style restaurant focusing on the local, the seasonal, the fermented and the foraged, with a deli on site and a sister restaurant, Long Friday in the nearby neighbourhood of Jesmond.
You know I’ll usually want to jump in and explore the wine list somewhere, or sample the cocktails they have available, but as someone who likes to make my own drinks I was excited to see a massive selection of house-made soft drinks, so I opted for a pear and star anise cordial. It was light, fresh, but perfect for the not quite spring yet weather outside – lots of pear and just a hint of subtle spice.
Across the table we had a decent selection of sharing plates. The sourdough with acorn dairy butter was good, and we were all rather taken in by the wonderfully delicate and perfectly cooked salt cod fritters with a vibrant, not too much to overpower the delicate fish curried aioli. Get these.
Still from the ‘meaty things’ section we had two dishes from the barbecue: barbecued minute steak served with tonnato, capers and chervil, and a brand new dish on the menu, impossibly meaty oyster mushrooms with peanut and chilli oil. Both of these dishes were excellent: the steak took on the smoke from the grill beautifully and was wonderfully cooked, paired nicely with it’s simple yet striking accompaniments, and the mushrooms were very addictive – a riot of texture and flavour on the plate, and this is coming from someone who usually thinks the flavour of peanuts denotes them as the devil’s own nut!
Moving onto the veggies, their savoy cabbage kimchi is a must – with a different texture to classic Korean kimchee it has a bright, fresh flavour and a beautiful texture while still retaining that familiar tang – I like really aged kimchee with a pungent flavour but I know a lot of people don’t: order this both because it is delicious, and also as training wheels if you’ve never tried kimchee before it will be a delicious, yet slightly gentle introduction.
Switching to something hyper-seasonal, if you’re visiting in the next few weeks you really also ought not miss the wild leeks, barbecued into a smoky tangle served over cool, creamy labneh with a generous slug of wild garlic oil. Bright, fresh, and just screaming spring.
Now, in lots of places with lots of plates people have started to order the bread as it usually comes with some sort of fun and delicious spread or butter, but the potato and salad dishes often get overlooked as just filler. Don’t make this mistake at Cookhouse. The generous bowlful of local greens comes perfectly dressed with a sharp vinaigrette, which the edges taken off with a liberal crumbling of sharp, creamy feta. Literally my only criticism here is it needed more blood orange slices to really lift it to become the perfect salad bowl.
The potatoes come roasted in a barley miso, and they’re all the better for it. Still tasting very much like themselves, savoury was taken to a whole new level with their deep, umami coating. Another one for the table.
Next time you’re in Newcastle, book a table at Cookhouse and come hungry. As I mentioned, it has such a light airy dining room, I’d actually recommend popping out there for lunch: and besides, stay tuned for my dinner recommendation, as I’ve got a review of another very memorable meal as my call for your dinner.