We’re very excited about this newbie beneath the railway arches in Newcastle. As the dark nights draw in, we’re waving goodbye to al fresco dining and we’re seeking out cosy spots to relax, unwind and enjoy a bit of comfort food with a tipple or two. Gone are the days of sipping Aperol spritz in the striking sunlight; we’ve swapped them for winter warmers – days indulging in cheese and wine. And as if by chance, we’ve found the perfect spot for feel-good French food, fine wine and smiling faces. We whizz to France and back on our lunch and we feel like we’re in a chic café-come-wine bar in the hear of the Alps. It’s cool, it’s friendly and it’s the sort of place you could spend the whole day whiling away the hours as you pick tapas-style and sip speciality wines.
The French Quarter is a new neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar brimming with all the French-inspired luxe things in life. Under one cosy, arched roof, it is decked out with jazzy tiles, wooden furnishings and elegant bottles of wine everywhere you look. It’s sleek, it’s stylish and it screams French bistro with an added bit of a ‘home’. It’s buzzy but it’s intimate. And with its moody lighting, its contemporary bar and its flickering candle-lit tables, we have no idea what time of day it is and we’re happily whiling away the hours as we chat, nibble and sup up the good stuff.
The French Quarter is definitely one for wine people. It’s a cafe, a bistro, a market and a wine bar all rolled into one. The team here really know their stuff and will recommend the perfect bottle or glass to compliment the array of dishes on your table. You’ll also find classic coffee, soft drinks and hot drinks aplenty.
Cedric and Catherine are the brains behind the business. Moving to the North East from France, the couple were keen to challenge perceptions that French dining is formal and fussy. It’s not; it’s about embracing the home comforts and enjoying them with good wine and great company. The FQ is a casual spot where you can enjoy the very best produce, you can try new wines, shop from the deli and share Cedric and Catherine’s love of all things French. Cedric is originally from the Loire Valley in France and has a natural curiosity for food and wine; Catherine is originally from Northumberland and after setting off on a ski season in 2010, she met Cedric and adopted a real passion for the place, the food and the overall experience. Together, with a the French food and culture know-how, combined with a genuine love of the North East, they’ve created the perfect recipe for a fine, French-inspired bistro in the heart of Newcastle. They’ve had a pop at it and it’s spot on. We’re in for a hearty lunch – and a cup of freshly ground coffee goes down a treat as our dishes are brought out in tapas-style. The menu incorporates simple but carefully selected French cuisine; with everything from charcuterie to fromage, meaty dishes and a creative combination of vegetarian and gluten free options too.
We struggle to choose between the lunch set menu and the tasty sounding tapas-style dishes. But in keeping with the ‘tucked-away in a cosy spot in the French Alps’ (or railway arch) feel, we order from the main menu, sampling a bit of everything. Everything is cooked to order here, so as things come out one by one, we’re amazed with the flavours, the variety and the hearty portion sizes. The subric au jambon de bayonne (£5.50) arrive first. French cured ham croquettes – soft inside, perfectly crisp on the outside and oozing with creamy flavours. Next up is the boeuf bourguignon (£7.95) – diced beef shoulder braised in red wine, carrots and herbs. Rich, tender, warm-me-up food at its very finest. It’s a great start, and the remaining dishes in our feast follow suit: soufflé au fromage etépinards (£5.95) – a dish of cheesy heaven with a bit of spinach thrown in for good measure, crevette pil-pil (£7.95) – king prawns grilled in garlic, chilli, parsley and olive oil and the moules marinieres (£5.50) – steamed mussels in white wine, garlic, parsley and cream. All goes down well with a side of garlicky gratin potatoes (£3.50) and aioli covered pommes frites (£3.25). The flavours are impeccable and everything about the food is delicious – from the charcuterie to the seasoning and the sauces soaked up with house bread (£2.95). The main dishes and lunch menus are set to change regularly, meaning The French Quarter is the perfect spot to return to for dinner or a quick bite to eat. This really is a little gem in the arches – and we can’t wait to return!