The House of Tides is the Michelin Starred restaurant from Chef Patron Kenny Atkinson, nestled in a beautiful 16th century former merchant’s house on Newcastle’s iconic Quayside in the shadow of the handsome High Level Bridge.
Our good friends were in town from Belgium last week and asked us to book the best restaurant we could think of. Well, it was a no brainer. The tasting menu at The House of Tides has long been at the very top of my North East to-eat list.
Being lovers of fine dining, our friends are lucky enough to have experienced a fair few Michelin Starred establishments, but Matthew and I were newbies. I’m not normally one for food that’s overly fussy; top quality ingredients and bold flavours are where I’m at. But there’s been so much chat about House of Tides since it opened its doors in 2014 that I really wanted to try it out. Plus like at Jesmond Dene House, they have a vegetarian version of the tasting menu, which gives Matthew a richer experience than some of the usual limited menu choices at other restaurants.
My first instinct with a posh menu is to be fairly terrified of challenging ingredients like oysters and liver, but if you’re going to do a tasting menu you have to be brave and accept the challenge. We decided that if there was ever an establishment that was going to do things to perfection, this was the place to push our own boundaries of taste and adventure.
We started off in the bar downstairs with a bottle of prosecco and the Gougeres, which were choux pastry balls filled with a cream cheese and truffle filling. Absolutely delicious. We then moved upstairs to the main restaurant and were seated in the window. It was busy, but the atmosphere was decidedly relaxed. We didn’t feel self-conscious or out of place.
So pretty swiftly the first four items on the tasting menu were brought out. Dinky, beautiful and fun.
The tomato, courgette, basil, pea chilled soup was super summery and light. The carrot meringue, carrot curd, fennel pollen macarons were just the right levels of sweet and savoury and the waffle cones with chicken liver, curry and golden raisin were divine. The veggie alternative of these contained ewes curd.
So the challenge here was to eat the raw Lindisfarne oysters with cucumber and ginger. They looked beautiful but intimidating. We swiftly swallowed in trepidation, but were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful delicate flavours. Matthew had a beetroot and apple alternative at this point which he loved.
This was all served up with fermented rye bread with Grant Harrington’s cultured butter which naturally we spread thickly!
More delights from the sea were up next with this Orkney Scallop with lovage, apple and black truffle. Light and fresh – we really enjoyed this dish and it was just so beautifully plated.
The veggie alternative was this hen’s egg, parsley, Ragstone cheese and coco beans dish… this was Matthew’s least favourite as the egg yolk was super runny which he finds difficult. We absolutely loved the beautiful bowl it was served in though! Apparently all of their plates and dishes are sourced locally, with this bowl by artisans in Ouseburn.
I haven’t got a picture of the Galloway beef tartar, mushroom and turnip, but it was small and perfectly executed.
Here we’ve got the veggie alternative, which was the heritage potato terrine, artichoke, nasturtium pea, and tarragon. Stunning.
And on to the main event, the Aylesbury duck, cherry, spring onion and Morteau sausage. This was a triumph of rich flavours, absolutely magnificent.
Matthew enjoyed the veggie main of herb gnocchi, sweetcorn, king oyster mushroom and lovage – just so beautiful to look at!
There were two dessert courses. The raspberry and meadowsweet was like a gourmet take on jelly and ice-cream… with a lush raspberry compote and a creamy topping with popping candy!
The pistachio, strawberry, sheeps milk and elderflower dessert was super pretty and a lovely fresh way to finish the meal. Well actually we weren’t quite finished…
We decided to enjoy a few chocolate boxes between us which contained:
Salted Chocolate fudge
White Chocolate & Coconut Truffle
After Eight Bon Bon
The snickers and after eight flavours were absolutely knock-out gorgeous.
The staff were incredible – very attentive, explained every element of each dish, expertly helped us choose wine, shared funny stories about life in the restaurant and made us feel very welcome indeed. Their comprehensive knowledge of the food, wine and even where the plates come from was really impressive.
Value for money and overall verdict
Dinner menu £68
Wine pairing £50
For a fine dining experience in relaxed but effortlessly stylish surroundings, I’d say £68 for a Michelin Starred tasting menu is pretty decent value. I loved how every single element of each dish was so well thought out both in flavour and in the way it was presented. But what I loved even more was the fact that it didn’t feel intimidating. I’d save it for a very special occasion with those you love… and make sure you wear something with a loose waistband!