Kenny Atkinson's House of Tides in the heart of Newcastle's Quayside has only been open since February 2014, but it has rapidly, and rightly so, earned its fair share of critical acclaim.
This was one of the best meals I have had in a very long time, undoubtedly. Stepping into the depths of the 16th century Grade I listed facade the flagstone floors, oak beams, and soft candle lighting lull you into the laid-back, but simultaneously decadent experience.
Its menu, consisting of three set menus is bursting with seasonal, local and familiar ingredients, but it intrigues. We opted for menu number one, giving us a range of a la carte options. The remaining two tasting menus offer an elaborate compilation of seven or so dishes.
Before advancing to the first floor we were met by charming service and a drink nestled on the cosy seating. We enjoyed a glass of wine and 'snacks'. These so-called bar snacks were anything but. The fresh oysters topped with a cucumber jelly and oriental flecks of ginger, as well as warming spiced nuts and sumptuous plump green olives, were superb, cleansing the palette and leaving you desperately wanting more.
Our starter of pheasant egg, asparagus, morels, peas, tomato jelly and hollandaise foam was like a warming bowl of spring, with rich depths from the yolk, and a heady tang from the hollandaise. The sweet spring peas, crunchy notes of asparagus, and spritzes of freshness from the tomato jelly ensured the dish remained light and springlike.
The beef was served with heritage carrot, pease pudding, morels, smoked pancetta, beetroot disks and a sweet, almost peachy purée. The dish was a perfect blend of rich bitterness from the beetroot and jus, sweetness from the pink beef and spring vegetables, and saltiness provided by the smoked pancetta and pease pudding.
The Goosnargh chicken breast was accompanied by an almost caramelised bite of apple, crisp hispi cabbage, smoked bacon, truffle and mini mushrooms. The chicken was stunning. Its meat so tender, sweet and moist, yet still retaining a herbed, crisped coating of skin, and balanced by the warming tones of truffle and bacon.
Finally it was dessert. We ordered the 'Coffee and Almond' and the 'Dark chocolate, popcorn, salted caramel' each coming with their own specific recommendation of dessert wine.
The dark chocolate was a silky mousse, peppered with hints of salty sweet and crunch, and all wrapped together under a blanket of milky ice-cream. Its accompaniment of Kishinamien Umeshu plum sake was utterly phenomenal. Its sweet scent of plums and almonds perfect complimented the salted caramel. It was honestly like nectar.
The coffee and almond was a cloud-light layered coffee cake, coffee jelly, almond ice cream and deep chocolate ganache accompanied by Riversaltes Ambre - a warming and sweet note of port richness.
House of Tides's historic and cosy setting warms you and allows you to share and enjoy the incredibly vibrant food at ease. This is a very special spot.
I am an amateur cook blogging about the food I eat and cook, and my travels along the way.