Food Fixtures

You need sustenance to cope with the pitchside pleasures and pain of a day at St James’ Park. The club’s Park Grill is certainly a place of action as Kathryn Armstrong discovers

It’d be interesting to know just how many juicy burgers and sirloin steaks find their way to the match-day plates at The Park Grill for a home-game fixture.

The devoted fans enjoying home-game hospitality need their blood on and off the pitch and this is a kitchen that knows it.

In other parts of the stadium the pie brigade are having their own savoury moment, but in The Park Grill you’ll find a conveyor belt of meat for men: fans who like to devour their food as much as their game of football.

The clientele is definitely male dominated and as you sit you see a very steady stream of steak passing by, it’s by far the most popular choice.

We experienced The Park Grill on a home game against Stoke City. Seats in the restaurant in the Leazes Stand have good views of the pitch and there’s an atmosphere of pre-match anticipation and fervour in the room as the TV screens with their punditry reflect the build-up.

For the chefs and staff, this is ‘showtime’. There’s an open kitchen, so if you’re sitting in the right place (and don’t have an eye on the pitch or the TV screen), what you see is a very well-oiled machine going at some pace for a previous few hours before and during the game of the day.

Staff are young, smiley and engaging – you can tell it’s as big a day for them as for the rest of the room. They have to pull out their best performance too. You can start your meal with a session at the salad bar where there’s a small choice of favourites such as Caesar salad. Ingredients are on-point. Fresh flavours – nothing has been hanging around and the dishes are replenished regularly.

The Park Grill menu covers the favourites – rotisserie chicken marinated in orange and tarragon, the famous (and clearly super-popular) mighty 110z cheeseburger, as well as pizza and pasta choices.

As you prepare for food and game, you also get a side order of some chat from ITV’s Ian Payne and John Beresford, looking at the team of the day and analysing the game.

On our table there was hunger for the food as much as the game. I went for a grilled seabass fillet with lemon butter. It was soft-fleshed – maybe a touch over long cooked – but plenty of flavour. Simple and satisfying. We sampled the sirloin steak – a 28-day matured Black Label sirloin. The kitchen gets a goodly amount of practice when it comes to steak – it’s called the Grill for a reason. Our steaks were ordered rare and came as they should – sufficiently heading towards ‘bleu’.

Crispy half duck with plum sauce was a creature to reckon with. As crispy as it should be and drizzled with sticky sauce.

These all came with some handcut-cooked thick-skin chips which were very good.

All a fine prelude to the big match itself – a not very exciting match to be honest – which we watched in private balcony seating in the Leazes Stand. But, food was a game of two halves with a half-time stop off at the dessert bar. This was pretty amazing. Rich cheesecakes, unctuous sticky toffee pudding, profiteroles, slabs of cake and the opportunity to head back for more. Not sure if the need for a doze was about the abundance of lunch or the unspectacular nil-nil game that set out in front of us.

There’s an atmosphere of pre-match anticipation and fervour in the room as the TV screens with their punditry reflect the build up. For the chefs and staff, this is ‘showtime’

We were impressed by The Park Grill set up. There were some guests enjoying special celebrations and the team really made their day special with cakes and ‘meet the hero’ moments and photo opps.

The grill and the match day dining package was obviously a regular thing for some of the room. For others who were having their very own ‘big day out’, it was made memorable by good service, food and also, it must be said, a decent wine list. Plenty of fizz flowing, win or not!

There are a range of packages for match-day hospitality in the Park Grill depending on the fixture from £90. For full details email [email protected] or 0191 201 8444

www.nufc.co.uk

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