Review of Lovage

Jesmond, Newcastle

Food: 6

Staff: 8

 

This newly opened restaurant on St Georges Terrace just off the top end of Osbourne Road in the affluent Newcastle suburb of Jesmond is just that, newly opened. We’ve now been twice within a few weeks, both times because we were meeting friends and wanted somewhere new to try.

Jesmond is a well-heeled part of town just on the north side of Newcastle city centre with a real village type atmosphere to it. Lots of café’s pub restaurants, artisan type producers and the one sure fire way of telling how posh a neighbourhood is, a Waitrose! One of very few in the North of England, indeed I think there is only one branch of Waitrose that is further north.

This unassuming shop front almost Bistro style restaurant is sparsely decorated, no frills, and as befitting a modern restaurant it has an open kitchen, is devoid of tablecloths and even carpets but do not let that put you off it really is very pleasant indeed. Parking is a pain but that is to be expected in a residential area such as Jesmond, although having said that we managed to park almost outside on both occasions, more luck than anything else mind you.

The menu is relatively small which is totally acceptable but I was surprised to find it had not changed much between visits. For restaurants like this I think changing the menu often is the key to bringing in regular customers as once you’ve seen the same menu it becomes less appealing to return until a new menu is in place. Not that this appears to be holding them back as business seems to be quite brisk which is good to know.

Bearing this in mind though I went on to choose the same starter this time round as I did on my original visit, the Crispy Sardines with Salsa Verde and Lovage, it was perfect 1st time around but  a little lacking this time. The crispy topping of what I assumed to be, and tasted like, Lovage and Panko crumbs were a great addition. The salsa was missing some of its punch this time and probably a little under seasoned too, still very good though. My wife had the Smoked Mackerel Paté with Pickles and Sourdough although the sourdough turned into Focaccia when it came, they had run out of sourdough but it mattered not, she declared it delicious. First course: 6

For our main course I chose the Poached Plaice with Caper Butter and Green Vegetables while my wife had the Lovage Pappardelle, Morden Blue, Tender stem Broccoli, Walnuts. Mine, a thick juicy beautifully cooked piece of plaice fillet. I do love plaice, even more when it is from a big fish, this was from a big fish, it would have yielded at least 7 or 8 portions it was that big. Plaice of this size are also unusual and an absolute joy when you manage to get hold of one. The butter sauce was a little under seasoned for me and again lacked a little zing one would expect from a sauce containing lilliput capers, the bed of vegetables were cabbage, tender stem and mangetout, all al dente and a perfect accompaniment. The Pappardelle was also declared a hit but I have to admit that without some dead protein on my plate it would never have suited me. With the addition of some French Beans and Calvo Nero and finished with grated cheese, it was a good main course. On our previous visit I had the Yorkshire Lamb Ragout, Gnocchi, Calvo Nero and Pecorino Romano, the latter grated over the top of the meat. Personally, the cheese did the course no favours at all, it was not needed and the ragout was too dry, there needed to be more sauce on the meat and the gnocchi was a bit too firm but the crisp calvo nero was welcome. Main courses: 6.

It is worth pointing out that unless you like your cheeses then the menu may not be for you, it did contain many different types of cheese throughout, there was almost no getting away from it. The first time around I remember counting 8 different cheeses between the first and main courses while this time there were 7. For the sake of proper menu planning there were too many!

The dessert choice was much smaller than the other courses, our friend chose the cheeseboard (yep more cheese) which was quite magnificent with a great selection of crackers and homemade ones in the mix too! I do wish more chefs would make their own, it is not difficult. My wife had the Limoncello Posset with a Balsamic Plum Compote which was delightful, the plum compote particularly so, I know because the waitress very thoughtfully brought me a smaller version (pictured) as I must have looked longingly at my wife’s despite me saying I did not want a dessert, Jane’s was much larger than the one in this picture. Desserts: 6 

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