Baltic Centre, South Shore Road, Gateshead Quays, Newcastle, NE8 3BA
You know how it is, you get talking about having just been out to dinner or are about to go somewhere for dinner and someone suggests you try out such and such a place, they were there last week and it was fabulous or, we always go there, it’s so good, you’ll love it.
Then a week or so later you read about the same place somewhere and remember you were told about it recently. Another week or so goes by and a friend says they are off there and are really looking forward to it and within a couple of days you get further confirmation from another source that you really ought to try it as its fantastic.
The following week another friend says, fancy meeting up for lunch somewhere? Absolutely, got anywhere in mind? I do actually, how about, and its that same place again, so of course you say “yes love to, I’ve heard so much about that place, I’ve been meaning to go for a while and it’ll be great to see you and catch up”.
Well, that’s exactly what happened and how we ended up on Gateshead Quays at SIX for lunch one day recently.
Having never been to the Baltic before I had no idea there was so much going on there and so many people milling around on every one of the 6 floors, all apparently waiting for the lifts.
Three big lifts, one with an out of order sign on it, one seemingly gone missing and the other having to pick up the slack from the other two, being over worked and constantly full, consequently the wait to go up was really quite long with lots of the waiting crowd pushing the call button in the hope that one day a lift would actually arrive!
SIX is on the 6th floor, as far as the lift will go, and we got there in the end. Our friend had tried to book for 12.30 but was told it would have to be 12.15 as they were very busy that day, no problem for us, and even after the long wait we were still in the restaurant by 12.10.
Our friend had not yet arrived but we went to the table anyway in what was a virtually empty restaurant so early on. Open Wednesday to Sunday, Lunch (no lunch on a Sunday, afternoon tea is from noon till 3pm that day) starts at 12 noon through to 2pm when afternoon bookings take over on a Friday & Saturday (we went on a Friday). Prior to these times the restaurant opens for Brunch from 10.00 through to 11.30 then after tea it goes into dinner from 5.30 through till 9pm. So extremely full-on days for their team.
It's a big room with floor to ceiling windows on three sides with magnificent views across the city all round, sadly one can’t see the river from the tables though, which is a shame.
We were shown to our table and asked if we would like drinks and menus were presented. Trying to be sensible, especially as I was driving, I had a zero-alcohol beer, my wife a glass of wine. Up until recently zero beers were not worth the container they came in, but now that’s all changed, they really are quite palatable now, and in many cases are indistinguishable from their alcoholic parents. Within minutes a waitress asked if we were ready to order. What is it these days, why are people so unobservant? There were clearly 3 places set at the table at which only two people were sat, three menus, one at each place setting, the table obviously booked for 3 and yet only 2 people sat at it. How could we possibly be ready to order?
Once our group was complete with pleasantries and cordial exchanges made, we set about perusing the menus, two of them, one the smaller lunch menu, 2 courses £17.50 and 3 for £20, extremely reasonable, and the a la Cate menu which was really quite extensive. Now my wife, as you will know if you have read any of my other reviews, has an intolerance to onions, leeks and celery and a dislike of peppers. This can sometimes become an issue, especially when those you are trying to explain this to do not listen. If any of the allium (onions etc) family, or celery, are cooked in/with something then either removed or pureed through then all is good, if they are left in then she has a problem. Basically, she cannot digest pieces of these vegetables but can easily accommodate them if they are pureed (as long as it is not say a puree of onions but are pureed into a sauce for instance). Their flavour is acceptable it’s just the actual pieces she can’t have. It is fine if they are large or as a garnish as they can be picked out and pushed off to one side. This is always explained wherever we go, prior to our arrival if we make the booking or when we get there if not. She ordered the North Shields Crab, Avocado and Spicy Rice Noodle Salad, Granny Smith Apple & Thai Basil, followed by the Saffron & Salmon Fishcake, Tenderstem Broccoli, Moules Mariniere Sauce. All from the a la carte menu. The waitress popped off to talk to the chef. No sorry you can’t have any of them (not exactly sure why). Okay let’s go for Slow Cooked Beetroots, Fennel Salt, Balsamic Gel, Macadamia Nuts, Horseradish and follow that with Baked King Prawn, Crabmeat Stuffing, Rice Noodles, Coconut & Tamarind Curry Sauce. She made the round trip to the kitchen again, no sorry you can’t have any of those, again not sure why not. Okay let’s have the Smoked Salmon, Caesar Salad Croquettes, Basil Puree & Parmesan, then she would just have the Twice Baked Cheddar Cheese Souffle with Pear, Chicory and Walnut Salad. Sorry no to the Smoked Salmon and Croquettes as something in there is marinated with onions !
Okay rather than coming to the restaurant and going away unfed just serve me these last two items and I will take my chances! It had gotten to the point where she was about to walk out rather than sit and watch the other two of us eat and who could blame her.
Surely it does not take someone like me to know that, if there is one item on a dish that the customer can not eat then the dish can be altered slightly/sufficiently to accommodate the dietary requirements without compromising the idea behind that dish, assuming there was one of course, not difficult, and had the waitress listened, and accurately relayed the issue, then this may possibly have been what happened, but then again!
Black Pudding and the Caesar Salad starters
I chose the Black Pudding from the a la Carte, our friend (also a chef) would have the Ham, Egg off the lunch menu. now let’s just re-visit and earlier paragraph, shall we? Such as paragraph one, is it really a good idea to take the suggestions of others so literally?
As we waited for our 1st courses three pieces of bread arrived, a real oddity recently as so few places seem to offer bread, unless that is it’s listed as the first course on a long tasting menu! Mind you they needn’t have bothered, what I assumed to be a homemade focaccia from its appearance, was so lacking in flavour we might as well have been eating blotting paper. Salt, as ever, seems either to be in short supply or the price must have risen so high that no one can afford it!
The egg with my Black Pudding was over cooked, the sauce Rouge, I still don’t know what it was meant to be but it was tasteless and thin, the potato again tasteless. The Roast Ham & Emmental Salad, Soft Boiled Egg, Truffle Dressing the choice of our friend from the lunch menu was something a child could have put together (probably better) his soft-boiled egg, also over cooked. My wife’s Smoked Salmon, Caesar Salad Croquettes, Basil Puree and Parmesan was abysmal, except for the fact that the smoked salmon was good quality the rest was so lack lustre, lacking in imagination and to offer Caesar Salad Croquettes, well, the possibilities these conjure up in my imagination, then to come crashing down to earth with a thump from six floors up, makes me want to cry.
Our companion and I then ordered a glass of wine each with our main courses, him a glass of Picpoul de Pinet to go with his Beer Battered Fish , Hand Cut Chips, Crushed Peas, Tartare Sauce, from the Lunch menu and me a Rioja to go with my Slow Cooked Shoulder of Beef, Glazed Carrot, Mustard Mash, Pickled Walnuts and Red Wine Jus, there is nothing much I want to say about this other than the meat was so over cooked it was really dry and the sauce was not nice. We had been told the fish was Cod although it only said “Fish” on the menu, fish it was, cod it was not! The peas were suffocated with mint and the chips were quite frankly knackered. We had both almost finished our mains before the wine actually arrived and that was after me having to remind them that we were still waiting for it, even then from that point it still took another 5 minutes. Jane still had her glass of wine from earlier to go with her Cheddar Cheese Souffle. When asked how it was, she said the parmesan is lovely, just as well as without it it’d be tasteless.
Desserts, the best course without any doubt at all, streets ahead of anything else so far. Mine the Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake, with Banoffee Ice Cream, it wasn’t perfect, there was a lot of improvement that could have been made but it was the definitely the best thing I had eaten that lunch. Jane, the Passion Fruit Pavlova, Tonka Bean Cream, Coconut Roasted Pineapple & Basil, she said, at last a dish with flavour and declared it to be wonderful.
Our friend decided on no dessert but would have a beer instead, a Peroni which came in its bottle. He poured about 2/3rd into his glass and a few minutes later as the waitress walked by, she picked up his bottle and marched off with it, and its contents, obviously oblivious that it was not empty! Summed up the experience perfectly I thought!
When we left, the restaurant was almost full, not with lunch customers but with virtually everyone having afternoon tea.
When I set out to start writing reviews, I didn’t want to talk anything down, I promised to tell the truth, to tell it how I find it, that if there was nothing good to say then I would say nothing, and not be swayed by favours at all. This means that when we came away from SIX, I told my wife I would not write this review because it would not be good. I changed my mind, rightly or wrongly, why? Because sometimes reality needs telling, myths need to be dismissed.
We paid £156.00 for 3 people, this included 10% service charge. On the face of it a very reasonably priced lunch, but actually a lot to pay for what we had.
Food: 3/20 (and that was mainly for the dessert)
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