10 Places You Must Eat In Newcastle with Triple A Food Tours
The true highlight of my recent trip to Newcastle was being shown around all the cities foodie hotspots by our local guide: the frankly fun, funny and all around fantastic Amy, the owner of Triple A Food Tours. Amy has built a brilliant business taking people around all the must-eats in Newcastle (and she’s now expanding to Durham) and if you’re in town and you’re not sure where to eat, I can’t recommend one of her tours enough – also, for everything you get to eat and drink without adding in her excellent local knowledge they’re an absolute bargain!
We took both her Newcastle Food Tour and her Ouseburn Food Tour, and both were brilliant – I was a guest of Newcastle Gateshead for both tours, but seriously, the rampant enthusiasm for Amy and her business are all my own! Shall we jump straight in?
Newcastle Food Tour
Snackwallah in the Grainger Market
After meeting Amy at the Grey Monument for a bit of an introduction, we set off towards what is now my favourite place in Newcastle: Grainger Market. A massive indoor warrens of traditional market stalls, food vendors, delis, vintage stores and second hand book exchanges, it is now the place I’ll recommend to people if they’re not sure what they want to eat, except they want something casual, and something delicious. Not part of the food tour, but that I spied going in and went back for later, for example, is King Baby Bagels which ended up being one of the best things I ate on the entire trip, and something I’m already excited to enjoy again in September.
Snackwallah is one of the post popular spots in the market, guaranteed to have a queue at pretty much any time of the day. Serving up exclusively vegan Indian street food, everything people around us were eating looked amazing, but if they’re on and you’re just after a delicious snack I can’t recommend their Pani Puri enough: vibrant, slightly spicy little mouthfuls full of crunchy chickpeas, cooling plant based yogurt, herbs, spices and who knows (or cares) what other delectable little morsels, served with dishes of pani puri water, essentially a light, flavoured dressing ready to spoon into each before eating each bite in one, allowing for a burst of textures and flavours as you bite down.
Needless to say we were off to a delicious start!
Next, we hopped over to the fishmongers, and checking out the different vendors it made me a) slightly disappointed I had a hotel suite not a holiday apartment with a working kitchen so I could bring some back to cook for my dinner, and b) jealous of the incredible selection and prices available to the shoppers of Newcastle.
Anyway, we were there to sample the local Lindisfarne Oysters. As a true oyster lover I ate far too many, and can report that the local oysters are delicious, briny, but also have a lovely, very creamy finish that I’m not used to making them rather unique. In my mind they’re perfect just served simply with a squidge of fresh lemon, but if you want to settle down with a glass of something and a couple of them can I recommend you go for dinner at Trakol, where they’re not only on the menu as bar snacks / starters au natural, but also lightly grilled with miso and chilli which is also a dish well worth sampling – and this is coming from someone who usually thinks a cooked oyster is a ruined oyster!
If fresh seafood is as much your thing as it is mine, Triple A Food Tours also offers Northumbrian Coastline Tour – featuring Lindisfarne oysters as well as plenty of other delicious seafood and coastal delights – which sounds fantastic if you’ve got a bit more time in the area.
Not really my thing, but worth a shout because the true craft beer connoisseur in our group, Mark from Foodie Explorers was very enthusiastic was the Grainger Market tap room and bottle shop of Firebrick Brewery, a small, local, independent brewery who here sell their beers both in bottles and in takeaway flasks after you’ve had a chance to sample to sample a few flights to see what takes your fancy. Beer lovers take note!
I think this photo of the bar at Blackfriars Restaurant explains why I want to come back here just for a drink, because the former priory is just such a fantastic setting, though I’m also linking here to the Google Image Search for it so you can see the stunning restaurant and banqueting hall also. Just look at it.
We stopped in for a little starter of local Durham ham terrine with a fresh homemade piccalilli. It was light and simple, and it is a good pick if you want decent food made with local, British ingredients in a frankly stunning setting.
Kaltur is a lovely little modern Spanish wine bar and restaurant in the heart of the city, I think one perfect for a date night dinner. We stopped in for some of their excellent wine – I had the house rose which was a lovely, light, yet still well bodied and slightly fruity (obviously) Spanish number that went excellently with the frankly outstanding platter of Spanish meats, cheeses, pickles and preserves. On the menu for £17 I think it is an excellent choice for grazing with a bottle of wine for 2-4 of you after a days exploring and one of my top food picks for the city.
Obviously whilst we were there we also samples some of their hot tapas dishes. Their croquettes were good – we preferred the king prawn over the ham, though they were overshadowed for us by the frankly sublime salt cod croquettes with curried aioli we had the next day at Cookhouse – but I’d like to add the tempura aubergine generously drizzled with the very best balsamic vinegar to my must-order list: hot, crisp, tender, sharp, and everything you want from a dish to go with wine. Get this.
We finished the Newcastle Food Tour at my favourite stop of the tour and somewhere I’ve already booked my table for later this year to go back for a proper meal at: French Quarter. Located in the railway arches just down the road from the station and in the shadow of the castle (happily an Instagram poll found I was not the only person who had not realised NewCASTLE had a castle until I saw it!) French Quarter is a traditional French bistro with a dreamy dining room.
To get a true taste of what they have on offer (and to squeeze in something sweet!) we had a flight featuring mini versions of their core dessert menu, the passion fruit posset that was on at the time, their creme brûlée and their chocolate mousse, paired with their dessert wine flight – yes wine flights are a thing at French Quarter, and it is another thing I’m very excited for on my return visit!
Anyway, all three desserts were sublime, and the wines paired perfectly, the very best we’d had all day. The posset was light, creamy, rich, but without being too much, the sharp passion fruit balancing it perfectly. Classic dishes, the creme brûlée and the house chocolate mousse were simply some of the very best examples I’ve ever had, and remember my family used to live in France part of the year!
Ouseburn Food Tour
The next day we met Amy again bright and early for her Ouseburn Food Tour (Ouseburn being the up and coming, part industrial, part arty neighbourhood by the river, you guessed it, Ouseburn) at the entrance to the Victoria Tunnel – something we skipped, but which entry to is included in the tour. A a preserved 19th-century waggonway first used for coal, and later as a air raid shelter during World War II it is a great spot to visit if history is your thing as well as food – I also loved hearing about how sometimes local restaurants host dinners down there, which sounds frankly amazing!
Our first food stop was at the brilliant Kiln, a Middle Eastern-inspired cafe with a brunch and mezze menu and a pottery studio out back. You’ll spot South Korea native Jun’s brilliant, beautiful and practical plates and dishes not only in Kiln and Trakol, but in restaurants across the city. He told us all about why he started creating pottery in the first place: he’d looked at what a mass production machine could do, and then decided that actually, you could create a better product with your hands as long as you took time and care over it. I’m slightly in love with the plate I picked up on the day, and whilst he does not know it yet, I’m going to try and squeeze in the time to drag J across town so I can visit Kiln again both for their delicious food, and to buy another one!
Plates aside, the food at Kiln is fantastic, and whilst their main menu and mezze look brilliant, it’s my sit down breakfast / brunch pick for when you’re in the city. We sampled both their bright and brilliant cherry tomatoes and whipped feta on a slice of their excellent sourdough, and the French toast of my dreams, and this coming from someone who would usually choose savoury all the way when it comes to brunch options. Made again from their excellent sourdough and infused with cardamom, before being topped with slices of blood orange and a pistachio cream, I want another plateful just sitting here writing about it.
Next we headed around the corner to Brinkburn Street Bar & Kitchen, an excellent cozy, classic bar underneath a big, quirky event space that is famed for both their delicious, hyper local and Newcastle-inspired beers, and their lavish Sunday roasts. We settled in for a tasting, and again, whilst craft beers are not always my thing I developed a rapid love affair with their Soul Sister ‘Mango Fruit Shake’, a collaboration with The Steam Machine Brewing Co. it’s an unusual beer brewed with mango for fruitiness and lactose for a smooth finish, it was bold, fresh, fruity and complex, and something to try if craft beers are not usually your thing if you’ve gone for the food (though they do have other drinks behind the bar, too!)
Speaking of the food whilst obviously we did not have the space to stay for a whole plateful of classic British grub, we did enjoy instead a delicious bowlful each of their black pudding bon bons which were fantastic, topped with a homemade brown sauce they were very telling of good, simple, delicious cooking. They’re a fixture on the small plates menu too, so do order them anyway even if you just stop in for a drink!
Starting life as a shipping container supper club (it’s still there and you can see it shuttered opposite the entrance to the Victoria Tunnel) Cookhouse was the stop on your food tour I was most excited for. I first discovered Anna’s simple, delicious food focusing on good local ingredients paired with a love for foraging and fermentation techniques when she catered my first trip to Newcastle way back in 2015, and now she’s expanded out into two different restaurants – one in Ouseburn and one in Jesmond – I could not wait to go back.
Everything we were served was absolutely stunning – Cookhouse is my one pick for you if you want a special, delicious lunch out in Newcastle – and rather than squishing it into this post, I’ve written a full review of our Cookhouse stop here.
As we discovered the day before, no food tour is complete without a sweet stop at the end and on the Ouseburn tour Ernest has the pleasure, a wonderfully quirky destination that serves as a cafe and brunch spot during the day, and a vibing bar with live music in the evenings. It’s just a great spot to chill and relax, and to get dessert: sticky toffee puddings, Eton mess and ice cream topped giant warm chocolate brownies with a couple of glasses of prosecco all round!
Opened as a lockdown project, if you head around the back you’ll find Ernie, their delicatessen and hole in the wall coffee shop which is a great spot to browse if you’re looking to sample some local goods – and who had the most incredible giant sandwiches on display if you’re looking for something to grab and go instead.
Honestly, I know I said this at the beginning, but I always think the best way to get to know a city is through it’s food, and if you want the chance to sample more than you’d be able to visiting everything independently with a brilliant local guide (Amy has a few guides running the different tours aside from herself, but knowing that she picked them and with her personality, I’m not worried!) book a Triple A Food Tour. Thank you so much Amy for putting up with me and taking us around for two whole days, and for Newcastle Gateshead for arranging it all!