Places To Eat In Newcastle: House of Tides
If you are in Newcastle and you happen to be celebrating a very special occasion – or, like me and J you like to taste the very best of a city whilst you’re there if you’re unsure you’ll ever go back – House of Tides in Newcastle is the reservation to get to enjoy their excellent tasting menu and clever wine pairings.
On arrival we were ushered into a cosy corner of the downstairs bar for drinks and snacks. Still in a cocktail mood (we’d had a couple of fruity numbers at Mother Mercy before making our way down to the river for dinner) we both opted for a smooth, strong and perfectly balanced Penicillin No.2, similar to a honeyed version of a margarita, it was given it’s kick with mezcal, rather than Scotch. Rather nice, we both thought.
The snack of the day from our tasting menu was a crisp gougere filled with a silky smooth baba ganoush, which J described as both very pleasant and wonderfully cheesy. For me as the ‘no cheese’ option I was given some wonderfully nutty and seedy linseed crackers (which I spied later on are what is usually served alongside House of Tide’s cheese course) which were the perfect nibble for which to scoop up my own little pot of aubergine puree.
After our snacks we were shown to another cosy table upstairs in the main restaurant where we were presented with a very good warm sourdough (we were particularly a fan of the crusts) and a simply excellent cultured butter.
Our first course proper set the bar for what was to come. First came a delicate, room temperature pea veloute with such a clean, vibrant flavour, just offset by refreshing little cubes of fresh mint jelly in the bottom of the cup. Magical flavours, whose only problem was that they came to an end. Alongside it came a pork croquette, full of savoury flavours and given a wonderful added smokiness from the little, delicate cubes of smoked eel balanced on top.
We went for the wine pairing to go with the tasting menu because we could not decide, which was knowledgeably presented with every course. To go with the veloute we had a suprisingly light and young Cremant from the Alsace that complimented the lightness of the first dish perfectly.
The next dish was even better: a potato and leek terrine topped with a generous amount of black English truffles, served alongside an onion chutney and a leek emulsion. It was rich, indulgent, and totally re-wrote the way you’d usually perceive a vegetable dish; literally my only criticism (apart from the size, we wanted more of each, and the dishes are House of Tides were particularly tiny, even for a tasting menu type establishment, but whilst we noticed this, we did not feel short changed by it everything was so enjoyable) was the onion chutney was delicious in tiny bites, but you were given way too much for there to be any balance to the dish. The leek emulsion, on the other hand, was vibrant, concentrated, and just that very little bit transcendent.
The wine that was paired with it was a 2018 Pinot Noir, slightly oak aged, and it was interesting because it was the first ever Canadian wine I’d ever tried. It was very refreshing, and very unexpected, especially given the quality of wines that usually come out of colder climates.
The fish course came next, a lovely (if not little) piece of pan fried sea bass, perfectly cooked and served with griddled baby gem (stunningly perfumed with what I think was lemon verbena), roasted artichoke and a vibrant herby lemon sauce. It was fresh, light, but still rich enough to hold it’s own against the wine that came with it, a fascinating number from the Alsace which we were given to with ‘petrol’ tasting notes which you really have to taste to believe: it almost took over the palate, but all together it actually worked, a wine to make you think for sure.
For our final savoury course we were treated to a duo of Cumbrian lamb: a stunningly cooked chunk (I wish I could cook lamb like that) alongside a little nugget of pulled lamb. The pulled lamb was tasty, if not not as moist as I’d like, but the fillet (I’m being vague here because honestly I was more interested in eating it than determining the cut) blew me away. On the side it came with a courgette emulsion (delicious), and tomato and black olive number which gave the dish a stunning, end-of-summer edge, and a lemon verbena jelly – the whole thing working perfectly with a light Greek red that cemented Greek wines as one of my new favourites when spied on a wine list.
Moving onto the sweets, here we have my other favourite thing we ate at House of Tides: it may look unassuming, but this square of dark chocolate cream was rich, smooth and alive with lime, just enough to knock your senses into check, but not enough to overpower. Topped with lime gel and a few carefully placed leaves of Thai basil it is one of those simple, yet perfect desserts I’ll be thinking about for a very long time. (It is funny, as someone who prefers savoury dishes, that it is usually the desserts in these places that really touch me).
For our final course which came with a honeyed dessert wine (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the bottle!) and whilst it was neither of our favourites, it was still enjoyable: a raspberry tart (every time you had a bite of fresh raspberry the dessert was transformed, but they did not arrive in every bite) with rose (which I could not taste), sunflower, and marigold, and peanut, which while I ate and it was okay, I usually can’t stand so some warning would have been nice! Though, whilst this was not to our tastes, the rest of the food has been so good it hardly mattered.
We rounded things off with coffee, peppermint tea, and a little plate of vibrant (though a little sweet) passion fruit pate de fruit, and an excellent Earl Grey (we were in Newcastle, after all) fudge. House of Tides was a fantastic experience, and as I mentioned at the outset one to bookmark for a special occasion or celebration!
(If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, I can also highly recommend Trakol, just across the river, The French Quarter, just up the street and around the corner, and Cookhouse in the edgy, artsy neighbourhood of Ouseborn!)