While The Herb Garden isn’t exactly a new foodie joint (it’s been going strong since 2013), we love how often it mixes up its menus with new seasonal tweaks and twists. We stopped by recently to check out its recently-revamped food and drink offering, which promises more vegan options and lighter and brighter flavours for spring, to find it just as busy as it’s always been. People love it here. It’s walk-in only, but pizza-lovers will happily queue for its doughy delights. It’s a great spot for after-work cocktails, catch-ups and meaty platters and veggie nibbles. It even does boozy bottomless brunch. Oh, and you’re greeted by a big plastic horse (or is it a zebra now?). It’s quirky, chilled out and one-of-a-kind, for sure, tucked away under Newcastle’s railway arch. If you haven’t been yet, what have you been doing all these years?
Chunky wooden benches and a ceiling that’s filled with balloon-style lights (check Instagram – it’s been snapped about a million times) and rattles when the train’s chugging by overhead. Shabby-chic and we love it.
All your usual suspects; wines, beers, fizz, cocktails and soft drinks. It was mid-week and we were driving, so unfortunately we had to say no to bubbles.
The Herb Garden is renowned for its handmade wood fired pizzas, made special with all kinds of artisan toppings. For the carnivores among you, there’s meat-feast hits, marrying the likes of spicy pepperoni, crispy prosciutto, chorizo, garlic chicken, peppered steak, lamb shawarma and n’duja sausage. Veggies, meanwhile, can tuck in to big bases topped with blue cheese and truffle, broccoli, mozzarella and walnuts and more. There’s also calzones and Napoli-style creations on offer, too. The salads are probably the best in Newcastle – big bowls of imaginative goodness that can be tweaked to your liking – and the specials’ board always serves up great stuff. A mix of meaty, fishy, veggie and plant-based goodness. A lot of the new stuff on offer is vegan-friendly; you’ll discover a few new pizzas, a colourful and abundant salad, new sides and desserts, too. It’s what we really came for – and we loved what we found.
What we ate
We kicked things off with crusty bread and oil (£4), homemade hummus (£5) and aubergine carpaccio (£7), which is a new addition. Done properly, aubergine can be heavenly – and we were very pleased to find ours had been baked ’til the slices were soft, smoky and silky. Paired with chunky hummus, olive oil and bread, it was a mini Med-style feast that went down a treat. For mains, our dining buddy tried a new vegan tomato-based pizza (£12), topped with charred cauliflower, beetroot, mushrooms, garlic and vegan cheese. Really tasty; earthy and colourful, with a mix of sweet and tangy flavours. We found the vegan cheese a little too overpowering – very pungent – but the veg was done really well. The beetroot, which had been puréed, was as fresh as can be. We dipped our crusts into a pot of vegan garlic mayo (£1.20), which tasted like the real deal. Our pick was the vegan steak and mash (£16) from the specials’ board. In place of meat, we were served a thick slab of roasted cauliflower – not at all appetising on first glance (yes, it’s cauliflower after all), but surprisingly tasty, actually. Well-seasoned and cooked just enough so it had some bite to it. It was paired with beetroot, hazelnut and cashew mash – velvety, comforting and delicious – and creamy garlic and parsley mushrooms. Very, very good indeed. You also get parsnip and beetroot crisps for some crunch, meaning the dish was packed with texture. For puds, we shared the ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheesecake’ option (£5.50). A crumbly, biscuity base made from roasted dates, coffee and ginger, topped with pillowy cashew and coconut cream. Nowhere near as rich and sickly as the regular New York-style stuff, but just as decadent. A huge thumbs up all round from us.