THE HERB GARDEN HARBOUR, NORTH SHIELDS MARINA

We taste our way through the venue's new wintry menu...

Hang out

The smaller sister joint of one of Newcastle’s most popular pizza places, perched on North Shields’ tranquil marina, near the fish quay – a nice spot indeed, home to a few good pubs and restaurants. Like the walk-in city centre restaurant – famed for its wood-fired pizzas – the place is a neat find for rustic Med-style platters, ramped-up salads, inventive vegan options and hearty, seasonal plates, injected with flavours from all over the globe. Oh, and they do mean brekkies and brunchy spreads too. Healthy-eaters will be delighted with the homemade granola and quinoa porridge, while meat-eaters will drool over the hearty BBQ breakfast. The potted eggs with truffle and chorizo are pure heaven.

Decked out

It’s right on the water, so the views are oh-so-pretty, day or night. Very serene, too. Inside, it’s all about the stripped-back blonde wood, floor-to-ceiling windows and what can only be described as hanging art from the ceiling – jelly fish-shaped light shades, carved out of wood, making the place gently twinkle.

Sip

We didn’t find anything out of the ordinary or to write home about drinks-wise, but that doesn’t mean drinkers will leave disappointed. Order your usual – wine, beer, cider, soft drinks, the lot…

Food matters

The kitchen has upped its game on the food front with a new and concise winter-inspired menu, ready for diners to dig in to once the sun’s gone down. Expect a real mix of flavours – lots of variety to keep everyone happy (including veggies and vegans). As a nod to Christmas, you’ll find things like cranberry-glazed turkey and stuffing in red wine, sprouts with pomegranate and roasted pork belly with root veggies and apple – dig in to these while you still can. Other must-try plates are the cod wrapped in crispy parma ham and the minted lamb burger, which comes with a zesty cucumber salad. Indulgent sides include pigs in blankets, mac ‘n’ cheese, fluffy duck fat roasties and baby carrots smothered in cumin butter. Delish.

What we ate 

We decided to go vegan – just for a change and to see if the Harbour’s kitchen could deliver the same great plant-based goods we’d gobbled up at the Newcastle restaurant. Turns out, they could. In fact, we think they might be better. The butternut squash and chickpea tagine (£12) was our choice – and what a great one it was. A deep, decent-sized bowl full of orange goodness; thick, buttery squash and just-tender chickpeas, together (but not mushed, thankfully) with a hit of tomato in there – and plenty of warming spices – for some lift and heat. It’s paired with a bowl of nutty cous-cous, which was creamier than expected, but you can opt for roasted veggies, straight from the oven, instead if you’d prefer (we had both). We finished things off with a few helpings of plump and vibrant green sprouts (they’d been boiled rather than roasted, but no sogginess – hurrah) and pomegranates for a burst of sweetness, from the sides menu. We were impressed with the portion-size – you get a big, well-seasoned bowl-full. Same for the tomato, sumac, pine nut and pomegranate salad, which was super refreshing and zingy. We’d recommend both. Our pal settled on the vegan pie with sweet potatoes (more like crispy battered fries) and salad (£12). Portion-size wasn’t as generous this time, but the pie itself was super pleasing; think flaky, non-oily pastry, filled with a silky mushroom stroganoff-like centre, infused with herbs and spices. The pot of crunchy fries are there for a reason – use them to mop up the creamy sauce – but, for us, the salad didn’t add anything. Rely on a few side dishes – they’re faultless. We skipped dessert, but with three types of pudding (fig and pistachio, bread and butter and sticky toffee) and a champagne and saffron jelly on offer for a limited time only, we don’t advise you do the same.


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