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Food & Drink Reviews

artisan.jpg Restaurant review: artisan

This a restaurant that makes eyebrows emigrate to hairlines, so stupifyingly delicious is the food. Like everyone else she’s spoken to in the last fortnight, Chloe Corkhill urges you to get there now.

artisan. Yes, they’ve decided to go with that annoying lower-case initial, but what’s it all about? Well, the name could be a nod to the restaurant’s location inside The Biscuit Factory building, where all sorts of art is shown and sold. Equally, it could be a homage to the special makers and growers who supply the restaurant with the delicacies and morsels used by head chef Andrew Wilkinson to create the gorgeous menu. As well as an artisan cheesemaker, heritage potato grower, and organic veg cultivator, they have employed the services of a professional forager! This is a restaurant that takes the task of sourcing flavour seriously. The words ‘seasonal’ and ‘locally sourced’ are scattered like ashy pepper through almost everything anyone has written about food for the last decade. However, the truth is that when they’re applied honestly and a good handful of innovation is added to the mix (to prolong the tedious cooking analogy), really good things happen. My friend and I began as we meant to go on, sharing a modest three starters… Potted smoked mackerel, pickled cucumber and watercress (£7.50); homemade black pudding fritters, pork rillettes, celery apple and hazelnuts (£6.50); and a spring roll fashioned from fresh goats’ curd in a translucent skin of cucumber, served alongside meaty chunks of succulent smoked salmon (£6.50).

So far, so very, very good. My main was lamb rump (£17.50). This yielding, savoury treat was accompanied by a smooth shallot puree and the softest of fondant potato. Simple, but super effective. Jane, my pal, predictably chose the char-grilled 10oz rib-eye steak with wild mushrooms (£24) and set about it with characteristic gusto. Her summary? The dish was fab and the persillade accompanying it was particularly moorish. You don’t know what persillade is? It’s a simple, saucy mix of chopped parsley, garlic, oil and vinegar that lends a zesty accent to quality cuts of well-prepared meat. Easy.

Yes, the exposed brickwork, the expensive hardwood floor, the battered leather sofa and the immaculately curated artwork are all in place; but this place has real substance, as well as the cool, contemporary style.

artisan, The Biscuit Factory, Stoddart Street, Newcastle. 0191 260 5411. artisannewcastle.com