It’s just been announced that Pilgrim Street in Newcastle is about to have a facelift, which will include modernisation of the street and the introduction of new housing, offices and businesses. But there’s one business that has already seen the potential in the area.
Horticulture, one of Newcastle’s most trendy bar and restaurants, opened its doors in summer 2019 and has already made its mark as one of the most specialised cocktail bars in the city. Boasting a drinks menu that features over 50 percolators, there’s something for everyone.
The venue itself was previously Paradiso restaurant on Market Lane, and is made up of 3 separate floors. The owner, Mike Hesketh, has poured his heart and soul into the vision for Horticulture, and has crafted a beautiful setting. A mixture of modern street art, 70’s disco balls and outdoor/indoor vibes with greenery flourishing around the building, it’s unlike any other venue in the city.
Not to mention, their restaurant offers an incredibly unique menu. Featuring a wide selection of small plates, basically like tapas but not Spanish, they focus on organic, environmentally friendly and locally sourced ingredients. Chef Peter Breckon proudly presents seasonal dishes that have been lovingly and creatively crafted, described by Horticulture themselves as “modern British cuisine with international flavours”.
To make sure we sampled as much of the food as possible, my partner and I chose the ‘Earth, Land and Sea’ option, which was a collection of set dishes at £20 per person. We also ordered the scallops and halloumi fries from the main menu as they sounded too good to pass on.
As each dish was served it was obvious we’d made a great choice! The sweet potato curry and chicken thigh tangine were our favourite’s from the sharing menu and the scallops and halloumi fries were absolutely incredible. The assortment of flavours that packed every individual dish were amazing and clearly very articulately put together. The only downside was that our table was a bit small for the amount of food that we’d ordered! I did ask to swap the dessert on the set menu from strawberries and yoghurt to the chocolate creameux with black cherry gel, which the staff were more than accommodating about. Having a big sweet tooth, I think it may have been my favourite part of the meal.
We ended the night with a couple of cocktails on the first floor bar and soaked up the surroundings. Having such an extensive drinks list it can be hard to choose which to go for, so we’ll definitely be back sooner rather than later. But next time we might have to visit for brunch too!
In the heart of Newcastle is the iconic Swan House roundabout. A well known structure in the cities landscape. But what’s on that roundabout has changed numerous times since it was built in 1967. If you’ve been there recently, you’ll have noticed a small restaurant nestled underneath Metro Radio’s headquarters called Zucchini.
Zucchini Pasta Bar is exactly what its name describes. They pride themselves on serving “hand rolled fresh egg pasta to the beautiful people of Newcastle”. Their pasta is lovingly created every day using free-range eggs from Northumberland and they are the first dedicated pasta bar bringing an authentic Italian experience to the region.
The restaurant is designed with a simple interior and relaxed atmosphere. It’s also placed in the ideal location to people watch through the floor to ceiling windows. As soon as we stepped through the door we were greeted by friendly staff and given our choice of tables. Luckily we arrived just before the lunchtime rush so we picked our favourite spot.
Having visited before, we already knew how great Zucchini’s ciabatta garlic bread is, so this was a no brainier. But we both chose pasta dishes for our mains that we hadn’t tried before, and we were both very glad that we did!
I opted for the taglierini with smoked salmon, leek & crayfish tails and, I have to say, this is the best dish I tried here so far. The tangy sauce was absolutely delicious and the fish worked wonderfully with the taglierini pasta (which I would describe as a skinny tagliatelle). My partner chose the fettuccine spicy sausage and loved the subtle spiciness of the meat and crispy sourdough crumbs dusted on top of the pasta. I couldn’t finish my dish as the portions are very generous, but if I had a larger stomach I certainly would have!
The desserts looked too good to pass up though, so we couldn’t leave without a sugar fix. As tasty as the pasta was, the tiramisu was absolutely my favourite part of the meal. It’s probably the best tiramisu I’ve ever had, and it’s one of my favourite desserts so that’s saying a lot! It was a perfect combination of creamy with a hit of alcoholic flavour. Andy had the cinnamon sugared pasta snaps with Nutella & salted caramel dips, which were super sweet and completely unique.
Overall, as with our previous visits, the service was excellent and the food was hearty and incredible. It’s a firm favourite of mine in Newcastle’s foody scene and somewhere we’re lucky to have on our doorstep.
Although we are still in a state of lockdown and daydreaming about pints with our mates in the hopefully not too distant future, we’re beginning to see a very faint light at the end of the tunnel. While public safety is indeed the most important aspect in this situation, it’s nice to imagine what we’ll do that first weekend after lockdown has officially come to an end.
There’s so much about Newcastle that I’ve missed over the last couple of months, so of course I have a huge list of places I want to visit as soon as it’s safe. But how can I fill that first glorious weekend of freedom with as much about what I love in the North East as possible? Well, I made a map to help!
To prepare for a weekend full of adventures you need a good breakfast to get you started. So, on Saturday morning a trip The Naked Deli on Gosforth High Street is a must. I’ll order my favourite from their breakfast menu, a smoked salmon scrambled egg with chives bowl and a peanut butter and banana protein shake. While my sidekick and lovely partner, Andy, always goes for their protein French toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup. A perfect energy boost for the day ahead!
After breakfast we’ll take a walk through Gosforth and head to Jesmond Dene. As always we’ll take a sneaky look at Jesmond Dene House on the way and talk about how amazing their restaurant must be!
After strolling through the dene and enjoying the gorgeous greenery, we’ll come to an end at Armstrong Bridge and then head towards Ouseburn, past the Biscuit Factory and along Ouseburn’s archways. Our second stop of the day will be at one of the sweetest spots in the city, Dreamworld Cakes, which is nestled in Arch 3. As someone with a huge sweet tooth and a love for local businesses, I really can’t speak highly enough of this cosy little patisserie. I’ve never seen cakes so lovingly and intricately created, and the staff are always fantastic. The cakes taste as wonderful as they look, too.
Afterwards, we’ll pop across the road to one of my most favourite places in Newcastle, Ouseburn Farm. The farm is a particularly special part of the city as it’s an incredibly unique city centre farm, sitting in the middle of Ouseburn’s pubs and creative studios, below Byker Bridge. It’s just a lovely place in Newcastle to see animals and enjoy a small corner of farm life. It’s also completely free to go to, but it does act as a fantastic charity, so of course we won’t forget to leave a donation!
After a morning of eating, walking and making friends with Ouseburn farms lambs and cows, it’s time for a drink. As we’re already in Ouseburn, it only makes sense to head to one of the local pubs, The Ship Inn. In an ideal world, the first weekend after lockdown will be nice and sunny, so we’ll sit outside on the deck and enjoy a nice pint in the sun. A pint of cider for me, and a beer for Andy.
Now that we’re celebrating, there’s a venue in Newcastle that I haven’t visited yet that’s definitely on my to do list. So, we’ll take a quick walk up to Hoults Yard to find Full Circle Brew Co., which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. The venue itself is an active brewery, but also has its own bar to sit down in and enjoy looking into the brewery itself as you try their beer first hand. Being newbies, we’ll ask the owner, Ben, what he recommends;
“I mean, I’d recommend them all but it very much depends on the style of beer you like. We have three cores which have all been designed and developed for over a year with tweaks on each version to maximise the taste for all, they’re our crowd-pleasers. Our Hoop American Pale Ale is designed as a ‘gateway beer’ for the drinkers who are just getting into craft beer. Less hop bitterness and haze but still packing the expected flavours celebrated in an APA. The Repeater Session IPA is built for those who want more than a few in a day, great citrus hop flavour with a light bittering on the background. Now for the flagship, our heavy hitter and our best in my opinion. Our Hazy, Hoppy and Fairly Boozy IPA standing at 6.4%. It has a softening New England water profile and is packed with Citra hops, this is a real star in the making.” – Ben Cleary, Full Circle Brew Co. Owner & Founder
After a lovely couple of drinks at Full Circle, we’ll hit the road again and head straight down to the Quayside. It’s a lovely day, so we’re off to enjoy some more drinks and a late lunch at By The River Brew, overlooking the Tyne. This place is great because they have so many different food vendors in their Hawker Market, so there’s something to keep everyone happy. We’ll pig out on an authentic parmo from Parm-O-Rama, and some amazing fries with steak, known as the Steak Supper, from Shanty Town. Of course By The River Brew have their own great selection of home brewed beers too, and the selection sometimes changes. So it’ll be a beer for Andy and a crisp cider for me.
After enjoying the awesome scenes on the riverside, it’s time to head up into the city for some cocktails. And where’s best to go for a fine quality cocktail in town? Horticulture, of course! While it’s one of Newcastle’s newest additions to the bar and restaurant scene, Horticulture has already made it’s mark by specialising in an incredible selection of cocktails and percolators, as well an impressively creative kitchen. The drinks menu there is so boundless that I always have difficulty choosing which to order, so I’ll ask the bar owner, Mike, what he’d recommend;
“I would work your way through one of our world record amount of espresso martini flavours, or personally some of our signature cocktails are mind-blowing. My personal favourite is Wham Bam Rhubarb Jam which we use Rhubarb grown from our allotment, real tasty” – Mike Hesketh, Horticulture Owner & Founder
One Wham Bam Rhubarb Jam for me it is then, along with an Old Fashioned for Andy who likes his cocktails strong. A trip to Horticulture on a nice day also means sitting out on the gorgeous sun terrace, which is the perfect little sun trap in the city centre.
Once we’ve had our fill of drinking in the sunshine, in my ideal world, we’ll be off to see a show at The Tyne Theatre. Now, obviously there aren’t any shows lined up for the immediate future, but this is my perfect after lockdown weekend, so I’m going to pretend that Klub Kids are hosting a show starring some of the RuPauls Drag Race Queens. It’ll be a great night of entertainment and comedy and it means that we’ll get to spend the evening in one of Newcastle’s most enchanting buildings, as well as catch up with some of my friends working there.
Now after Saturday’s day drinking we’re likely feeling a little bit fragile today. So, what better way to freshen up than by taking a trip on the metro to Tynemouth? As it’s a Sunday, the famous Tynemouth Market will be in full swing as we get there, and it’s the perfect time for a bit of shopping and rummaging around antiques. I absolutely love the random mixture of things you find there, from stunning artwork to homemade candles to eclectic bric-a-brac.
After we’ve made our way around the market, we’ll head to King Edwards Bay for some fresh air by the sea and sandy toes, before heading back up the hill to the well known Marshall’s fish & chip shop for lunch. Their scampi & chips is a perfect hangover cure!
After picking up some chocolate from Gareth James Chocolatier (did I mention I had a sweet tooth?) and a quick look into Raspberry Bazaar, we’ll get the metro again and head to Monument. Now that we’re a bit more bright eyed and bushy tailed, we’ll grab a milkshake each from Shakeaholic. My favourite flavour is Black Jacks, sounds strange but it works, and Andy’s is a Milky Way. Shakeaholic has only just been renovated too, so the shop is all nice and shiny.
After getting our milkshake fix, we’ll make our way to Dog and Scone just off the Bigg Market, for a sit down with a coffee and some cuddles with the cafe’s lovely collection of friendly dogs. What could make a Sunday even more perfect then some quality puppy petting?
Next, we’ll pop up the road again for a movie at the historical Tyneside Cinema. Hopefully they’ll be playing some old cinematic favourites and we can watch a classic like Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Some Like It Hot on a Sunday afternoon. Watching a film like this in the Tyneside Cinema’s beautiful auditorium isn’t like any other cinema experience in the North East, and it’s the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday.
Top finish up a wonderful weekend, we’ll indeed be going for some more fantastic food. Seeing as we’re being indulgent, we’ll obviously be visiting Lola Jeans on Market Street for some of the best burgers in town. Now, as delicious as their burgers are, one of my favourite things to order at Lola Jeans is their Philly Cheese Steak Spring Rolls starter. It’s amazing! But for our mains, it’ll be a California burger for Andy, and a Clancy Wiggum for me!
Before rolling home to our bed, there’s just enough time for us to walk off some of the excess calories from the weekend with a stroll across the Millennium Bridge to take in the views on the way back to our flat in Gateshead.
Thank you so much for joining Tickets in Newcastle for an interview about your amazing chocolaterie in Newcastle City Centre, La Chocolatrice.
As we’re in lockdown at the moment we are doing this interview via email, but I can’t wait to visit your shop once it’s open again!
Making chocolate sounds like an incredible job. Could you please tell us how you got started as an artisan chocolate maker? Where did your passion come from?
I have always loved chocolate. For as long as I can remember it has been my favourite treat. Whether I was being given chocolate by grandparents, or saving my pocket money to buy two vanilla truffles from Thornton’s each Saturday, it was always part of my childhood.
When I was 18 I moved to Avallon, a small town in the centre of France. While there I worked as an au pair and one of my jobs was to make the afternoon snack. I’ve always liked cooking but this was where my chocolate love story really came into its own. Over the course of the year, the afternoon snack became bigger and more complicated, and I’d often visit the local patisserie for ideas and inspiration. I also spent a lot of time sampling the delicious treats at the local patisserie, which I enjoyed immensely!
I moved to Paris a couple of years later, and took every opportunity to improve my baking and patisserie skills. I attended quite a few courses while I lived there, but the one thing that stood out to me was chocolate! I will never forget the first time I made an Easter egg – it was so much fun! I started experimenting with chocolate and different chocolate recipes, and upon returning to the UK, I began working part time for a chocolatier in Leeds, while studying at University.
You recently opened your own premises on Westgate Road called La Chocolatrice. What made you decide to open your own shop and is there a story behind it?
Until June 2019, I had been working for a few years in the North East, as a French and Spanish teacher. Owning my own chocolate shop has always been my dream, and although I loved my job, I knew that if I didn’t do it now, I never would.
After handing in my notice, I spent the whole summer making plans, but the one thing I couldn’t decide upon was the name. I was on holiday with a friend, and I’d told her the problem that I had. She spent the whole week making suggestions (some of them okay, some of the ridiculous), and it was on the last night, we were in bed and it was dark and she whispered, “What about La Chocolatrice?” and we both loved it. We had lived in France together, and studied together at University, and in French, a lot of professions have a masculine and a feminine title. Chocolatier didn’t so she made one up, La Chocolatrice.
Could you tell us a bit about what you offer at La Chocolatrice?
La Chocolatrice is the only independent chocolate shop in the centre of Newcastle. We stock a range of handmade chocolate bars and other chocolatey treats, and we also teach Chocolate Making Workshops.
During a Chocolate Truffle Making Workshop, you will learn how to make delicious chocolate truffles, chocolate flakes, and chocolate crisps, experimenting with flavours and techniques. Workshops are all very hands-on and you take home everything that you make – lots of delicious chocolates! Each workshop lasts from between 90 minutes to two hours and is the perfect way to celebrate any special occasion, or just have fun!
I am currently working on some new workshops which I will be releasing soon, such as a chocolate bar making workshop and an Easter Egg making workshop next year.
What’s it like running the chocolate making workshops and do you have loads of fun doing them?
I love running workshops. I always say that I have managed to create myself my dream job. I have combined my love of teaching with my love of chocolate, and I get to chat to people while making delicious treats.
No two workshops are ever the same and I meet so many lovely people every day. I feel really lucky to be doing something that I love.
What kind of feedback have you received from the good people of Newcastle about your products?
People seem to be really enjoying both the chocolate and the workshops, which is lovely! In the shop I have my regular customers, some who have been coming since my very first day. It’s lovely because you get to know people. I was worried, leaving teaching, that I wouldn’t like working by myself but I meet new, interesting people every day.
What is your favourite type of chocolate and why?
I always find this question really hard because the honest answer is that I love it all! I think I have a different favourite for every occasion. I love really good quality dark chocolate. One of my favourite things that I’ve done recently was a chocolate tasting, and we tasted lots of different single origin chocolate. There was a variety of chocolate, made from beans grown all around the world. It was amazing to taste the difference between chocolate made from beans grown in Ecuador, and chocolate made from beans grown in Tanzania. They were both delicious, but completely different flavours!
My current favourite bar from my range is the caramel filled milk chocolate bar. I made it as a one off, but I enjoyed eating it so much that it is now a permanent addition to my range. I think enjoying chocolate is about more than just the taste. Obviously you want a fantastic flavour, but it is the whole experience that makes a great chocolate bar. The appearance, the snap, the smell, and more all have to be amazing to make it just right.
What are your plans for yourself and for La Chocolatrice once we are safely out of lockdown?
During lockdown I have been working on developing the range of chocolate I stock at La Chocolatrice. I have also been running Friday Night Chocolate sales. At 7pm every Friday I open my online chocolate shop, and each week I sell a different chocolate treat box. Treat boxes contain three bars of chocolate and a pack of delicious chocolate buttons, and the flavours change each week. This has been going really well. I’m really enjoying this project, but I’m also very new to selling online.
After lockdown, I’d like to continue working on my Online Chocolate Shop, as I find it really exciting sending my chocolate all around the country. Really though, I can’t wait to reopen La Chocolatrice, start running workshops again, and welcome back all of my lovely customers!
You can find out more about La Chocolatrice as well as purchase Zoë’s workshops and chocolate on her website, here;
Local food vendor Parm-O-Rama have announced they’ll be doing a free live cookalong!
Parm-O-Rama have become renown in Newcastle for offering authentic and delicious parmos! Owner Jonny Hesketh, who originally hails from Middlesbrough, spent months perfecting his parmos and building his parmo wagon to offer the North East the best parmos around, and has been incredibly popular at venues and events like By the River Brew’s HWKRMKT and Wylam Breweries Battle of the Burger.
Jonny is passionate about the Middlesborough born delicacy and wanted to give Newcastle a taste of what an original parmo should taste like. If you’re not familiar with what a parmo is, they’re traditionally made out of chicken covered in breadcrumbs, bechamel sauce and cheese. As you can imagine, they’re not healthiest options, but they sure are yummy!
Jonny has stated on Parm-O-Rama’s Facebook page;
“We’re all living through difficult times at the moment, so we’ve decided to try bring some cheer and joy to everyone. The Parm-O-Rama Cookalong live! Wether you’re at home on your own, with a partner or the family everyone can get involved and make Teessides finest delicacy!”
The cookalong will be held on Instagram Live from Parm-O-Rama’s Instagram page @parmorama at 5pm on Tuesday 7th April.
Although they won’t be giving away their signature bechamel sauce recipe (believe me, it tastes amazing), they have posted a list of essential ingredients for the “Lockdown Parmo” which will be an easy to make from home recipe;
Breadcrumbs (or alternative)
Salt & Pepper
Cooking Oil (vegetable, rapeseed or sunflower)
Grated Cheese (Jonny recommends Red Leicester and/ or grated mature cheddar)
To serve, the parmo tastes best with sides such as chips, wedges, coleslaw and salad, as well as some garlic sauce!
So, to give yourself a new cooking challenge and a delicious meal whoever you’re eating with either at home or through a Houseparty call, don’t forget to to follow Parm-O-Rama’s Instagram page and log in on Tuesday at 5pm for a truly unique experience.