By The River Brew Co arrived on the banks of the Tyne only last year, but it’s already become one of NewcastleGateshead’s most sought-after social spots; a unique destination for casual, alfresco dining, sensational street food and freshly-brewed delights.
What makes the place so enticing (and successful) is how brilliantly-simple the concept is. Just a few empty shipping containers, transformed into a laid-back waterside community, home to a vibrant, international street food market, a microbrewery and bike shop-cum-cocktail bar, and a seasonal, open-fire kitchen.
Its whereabouts helps, too. Perfectly-positioned in the shadows of the iconic Tyne Bridge, on the Gateshead side of the river, the site boasts unrivalled views of Newcastle’s vibrant Quayside – a very pleasing backdrop for cocktail-drinking and pizza-eating.
For its creators, Rob Cameron and Dave Stone, location was key. “The Gateshead side of the River Tyne offers up unparalleled views – and it’s a real sun trap, too, especially late on in the day,” says Dave. “Standing on what was an empty stretch of land on Hillgate Quay, looking out over the water, we just felt it had incredible potential.”
The dynamic duo – the brains behind Wylam Brewery, The Town Wall and The Bridge Tavern in Newcastle – stepped in just weeks after the local council’s ambitious plans to create the world’s largest ‘shipping container garden’ were scrapped. And thank goodness they did. If you’re a regular, like me, you’ll know just how great a place it is to be; somewhere to feast on the finest local treats, mingle with chums under a glittering disco ball, kick-back with a few weekend beers, or celebrate a special occasion with a sit-down, Swedish-style meal.
MARKET MUSTS >>
Hawker Market is the heart of this cool container community. Every weekend, hundreds of hungry foodies make the journey over the Swing Bridge to reach it – and for good reason.
Inspired by Rob and Dave’s travels, it’s home to a range of specially-selected independent foodie traders, serving up flavours from around the globe, and a deliciously laid-back vibe.
“HWKRMRKT was inspired by our trips to places like Bangkok, Philadelphia, Berlin and Copenhagen and the street food and markets we discovered there,” says Rob. “The North East’s independent food scene has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and we wanted to celebrate that, giving local traders a place to show off their talents.”
It’s a fun and unique dining concept, too. Instead of money, visitors pay for food with tokens – an “easy and clean way” for traders to handle money, say Rob and Dave. Simply swap your notes and coins for as many tokens as your heart and stomach desire and away you go.
Food-wise, there’s something for everyone – from big-time burgers, loaded fries and wood-fired pizzas, to tapas and tacos, the freshest seafood, veggie-packed Mediterranean wraps, and vegan comfort food.
“We wanted to offer a good mix of cuisines, to suit all kinds of tastes and diets. Many of the traders you’ll meet today are people we’ve worked with before, through the food battle events we host at Wylam’, says Dave.
LUXE’S TOP TRADERS >>
Scream For Pizza: Wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizza, served by the slice. Flavours include smoked beef brisket with beer-infused BBQ sauce, goats cheese and onion marmalade, and Sicilian fennel sausage with salami and bacon.
Papa Ganoush: Mediterranean-inspired wraps, all kinds of veggies, and either charred, smoky, shawarma chicken, fried halloumi fingers or mini falafel patties.
Dabbawal: Small plates of sizzling Mumbai-style street food. Everything from grilled meats in lip-smacking, tangy marinades, to mounds of vibrant salad, fluffy naans and vegan curry/stew.
Grumpy Pandas Bait Box: Vegan junk food at its best.
HWKRMRKT is open on Fridays between 6pm and 11pm, Saturdays between 12pm-11pm and Sundays from 12pm-6pm.
BRILLIANT BREWS >>
Head over to the Tap Room for a pint of the good stuff in the on-site microbrewery. The space has 20 keg lines and serves the latest releases from some of the UK and the world’s best craft beer makers.
“The Tap provides us with the opportunity to serve the perfect pour,” says Dave. “Because the beer is brewed on-site, it means it’s super fresh and in the very best condition when you buy it – that’s really important to us. We brew a core pale and an IPA – all other brews are one-offs.”
Monday to Thursday: 12pm to 11pm
Friday and Saturday: 12pm to 12am
Sunday: 12pm to 10pm
BIKES & BARS >>
The Backyard Bike Shop is a place of two halves. By day, it specialises in custom bikes – but by night, it transforms into a cool, after-dark cocktail bar, with a team of expert mixologists to muddle up favourite tipples.
Bike servicing: Tuesday to Friday 10am to 6pm and Saturday from 10am to 3pm
Brunch: Every day from 10am to 5pm
Coffee and cake: Every day from 10am to 7pm
Cocktails: Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm to 11pm
FEAST IT UP >>
Träkol, the community’s on-site restaurant, is your go-to. Träkol is Swedish for ‘charcoal’; an open-fire-style kitchen, focusing on nose-to-tail cooking and seasonal produce.
Meat is a big hit here. The team share close bonds with farmers, choosing to use only rare and heritage British cuts, and work with trusted names like The Oxford Charcoal Company.
“The concept at Träkol is to bring primitive outdoor cooking, indoors,” explains Rob. “Our mission is to produce the most flavoursome dishes, prepared in the most simple and effective of ways. We achieve this through good shopping and respect throughout the cooking process. Our meat is dry-aged on the premises and we use amazing wood from British woodlands – everything from chestnut to cox apple trees – as fuel in our kitchen.”
Eating here is what you make it – the menu serves up plenty of options. Grab some mates and feast it up with mighty meats; a kilo of prime beef rib, half a pig’s head and a kilo of chop, with black pudding, caramelised apples and grilled potatoes. Try deep-fried reuben fritters, with French mustard and pickles, paired with crispy pig tails, beetroot pickled eggs and a few helpings of the flamed surf clams are our picks. Or the raw stuff – ox heart tartare and octopus ceviche – to make tastebuds sing.
For more filling mains try chargrilled cauliflower steak, with warming shawarma spices and toasted almonds or a whole grilled Cornish mackerel, smothered in a zingy lime and peppercorn dressing – a thing of beauty.
Lunch: Monday to Saturday 12pm to 3pm (last orders for food 2pm)
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 5:30pm to 10.30pm (last orders for food 8.45pm)
Sundays: 12pm to 6pm (last orders for food 5:30pm)