KALTUR, NEWCASTLE

High Bridge's new tapas bar and restaurant is a Spanish stand-out, serving up spectacular servings of authentic flavour...

Hang out

Another new addition to Newcastle’s High Bridge, now considered to be the city’s swankiest spot for contemporary bars, foodie places and other trendy little businesses. The opening marks an exciting step for the owners, who also import and sell Spanish food and drink online and in their shop in Heaton. It’s a place for tapas, but also authentic Spanish mains – dishes and flavours we haven’t found anywhere else in the city (and there a few tapas joints around these parts) – and tipples. It’s teeny tiny, sitting around 35 people max, but that only adds to its charm. Spaniards run this joint, both in and outside of the kitchen, so rest assured that you’re getting the real deal when it comes to the food. The waiting staff know the food and drink menus inside out, top to bottom, and are on hand to help if you fancy learning a bit more about what you’re eating/sipping, or are in need of a bit of inspiration. A few of their recommendations ended up stealing the show for us, so don’t be afraid to ask them for a few suggestions. We were glad we did.

Decked out

Sure, it’s super small, but turns out, we loved that the most. It’s cosy, without being claustrophobic. Intimate, without feeling like you’re sitting on top of your fellow diners. The atmosphere is as chilled-out as can be and reminiscent of holidays; it’s warm (without being tropical – you can leave your fans and flip flops at home), the lighting provides a golden, sunset hue, there’s the faint smell of red wine, garlic and chorizo in the air and you can hear Spanish voices oozing from the kitchen and behind the bar. Close your eyes and you could be in Madrid, Alicante or the Canaries. Joined by one of our nearest and dearest, we managed to grab a table one Friday evening and were pleased to find it packed to the rafters and filled with smiley diners, clinking glasses, toasting to the upcoming weekend – always a good sign and what you want for such a promising and exciting foodie newbie. We think it’ll do just fine.

Sip

Like your vino? Then you’ll love it here. It’s not hard for places to offer a decent wine menu these days, but what’s great about Kaltur’s is that it really shows off the super stuff that comes from sunny Spain. The reds are rich and robust, the rosé is deliciously sweet, the sherry is the best we’ve tasted and the sparkling vino is of the highest quality – you’ll find no cheap fizz here. After learning that we regularly visit the Canaries, our waitress gave us a sneaky try of something ruby-coloured from Tenerife to go with our mains – and we fell in love. The menu will tell you whereabouts in Spain your tipple has come from and how long it’s been fermented for, but we say have a chat with your server – they’re a well-trained bunch, passionate about the place’s produce, so their word is as good as any.

Food matters

Having access to the best Spanish produce around these parts, you expect Kaltur’s food to be top-notch – and it is. Unlike many chain restaurants claiming to specialise in ‘authentic’ Spanish grub, Kaltur’s offering (thankfully) goes above and beyond greasy, cheese-laden potato bravas, burnt chorizo nuggets and watery paella. Instead, what you’ll discover (for now – we’re told the menu will change now and again) is a small, but perfectly-formed, pick of moreish nibbles – roasted almonds, fried maize and a selection of olives -to snack on while you wait, three exquisite sharing boards showcasing hand-carved ham and a selection of other cured Spanish meats and cheese, around a dozen tapas dishes, stretching from good old garlic prawns and chorizo cooked in cider, to newer finds for us, such as Spain’s version of black pudding, salted tuna loin and baby broadbeans with Iberico ham and poached egg. You’ll find a handful of mains, some with meat, others with spectacular seafood (we’re trying the octopus next) and a couple for vegetarians, and three fuss-free desserts – two of which are Spanish classics. Sweet rice milk anyone?

What we ate

A small menu means less choice – but that didn’t make ordering any easier. You want to try it all. The good news is that you’re allowed – encouraged even – to do just that, just like the Spaniards do. Sharing is caring in our book and, after devouring the mixed meat sharing board – a good-sized platter of delicate cured meats, wonderfully salty and silky, joined by pickled red peppers and fresh chilli – we could hardly wait to get stuck in and tackle a number of tapas treats together. For us, the stand-outs were the black pudding (£4) – by far the best either of us have ever tried. And we really mean it. Think delicate black pudding mixed with rice, creating a heavenly soft texture, lightly spiced and well-seasoned, topped with a small dollop of apple sauce for sweetness. Just divine. The tuna loin (£3) also came up tops; wafer-thin slithers, a shade of vibrant pink and expertly cured for saltiness that tasted like the sea. The baby broadbeans (£6.25) were a revelation – a real ‘comfort’ dish that we couldn’t have slurped through any faster. We won’t spoil this for you – you must order it when you go – but it reminded us of oozy risotto, only lighter and with more personality on the spice and seasoning front. The fresh poached egg was spot on and the saltiness of the Iberico ham finished it off perfectly. We ordered the garlic prawns (£6.75) too, which, although juicy and bathed in extra virgin olive oil and smoky spices (great combo), arrived smaller and less plump than we’d hoped. Though that didn’t stop us wolfing them down – and mopping up every last splash of dressing with crusty bread. We finished with a main each – both of which blew us away. Fancying something fishy, we went for the red tuna (£14), which arrived medium-rare (just how we like it) and melt-in-the-mouth. A thick, good-sized steak, too, so fresh you’d think it’d been caught only moments earlier. It arrived on a bed of white asparagus, drizzled in a tangy Mediterranean vinegar sauce to wake the tastebuds up. Our chum finished with one of the specials’; slow-cooked lamb on a bed of fragrant and fluffy cous-cous. Neither of us could fault it; crispy, charred skin and meat that fell apart once you got a fork in there. We skipped desserts, but won’t make that mistake next time. Portion sizes here are on the small size – mains should really be renamed to ‘larger plates’ in our opinion, so you can afford to squeeze in something sweet. We couldn’t be more excited for our next visit.

 


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