With appearances on the Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen, Kenny Atkinson is a chef who has become easily recognisable. He has had many great achievements within his career to date, including a Michelin star, in his previous employment. With the ambition of owning his own restaurant in his home town, Kenny and his wife recently opened the doors to House of Tides in Newcastle.
Situated in the Quayside, the former merchant’s town house, a Grade 1 listed 16th Century building, has been restored to become The House of Tides where the ethos is to create a memorable dining experience in a relaxed & casual atmosphere.
As soon as we arrived we were greeted and shown to a table in the downstairs bar area, where many of the building’s traditional features have been maintained. Natural brick walls, 16th century flagstones and wooden tables provide a rustic atmosphere. There are two 9 course tasting menus to choose from; a vegetarian option and a non-vegetarian option. Being carnivores we opted for the non-vegetarian.
Our first amuse bouche arrived whilst having our pre dinner drinks. This was brought to us by one of the chefs who explained the quirkiness of the dish. Ken Holland’s Baby Leek, Onion and Black Truffle. In appearance the leeks looked like they were freshly pulled from the ground; the black truffle giving the effect of soil. In taste, the juiciest leek ever and the black truffle added flavour and character to the dish.
Ken Holland’s Baby Leek
The theater continued with the second amuse bouche; Lindisfarne Oyster, cucumber, lime and ginger, served on a bed of shells and rocks. Then, for dramatic effect, the dry ice seaweed medley brought the dish to life, creating a thick mist that swept across the surface. The oyster itself was juicy with the powerful flavours of lime and ginger adding a kick. However, the cucumber gave the mouthful a fresh taste. This made me excited to see what was to follow.
After this we were taken upstairs to our table where our wine was served. Candles were lit throughout giving the room more of an intimate feel than we experienced downstairs. With music playing in the background the relaxed atmosphere continued.
Soon to arrive, our third course, simply titled; Salmon. The salmon was soft and perfectly cooked, served with contrasting textures of beetroot. The pickled beetroot was juicy and delicious. Beetroot and horseradish purée acted as a sauce and pink fir potato added an earthiness which complimented the pickle. We were also given a basket of curried bread which is without doubt the best bread I have tasted.
Guy Grieve Scallop with Pig’s Head Braised & rolled was to follow. A Stand out dish, full of flavour and taste. Served with pieces of apple, celeriac, smoked eel and truffle, all the flavours and textures complimented one another and made every mouthful a taste sensation.
Guy Grieve Scallop with Pig’s Head
It was going to be a hard course to follow, but taken from his Great British Menu 2009 fish course the ‘Craster Fish Pie’ was next. I was very excited to have the chance to taste a dish from my favourite TV show. The pie was served in a small cast iron pot, which gave it a playful and fun element. Piping hot, filled with an assortment of fishy delights and topped with creamy mash and melted cheese this dish really lived up to my expectations. Unfortunately, my excitement got the better of me and I forgot to take a photograph of this dish. Epic fail on my part.
The cooking of the lamb in the ‘Lamb Northumberland Moors’ was sublime. The most tender piece of meat I have ever had, served with sweetbread, heritage carrots, coriander and cumin. This was the highlight of the night so far.
Lamb Northumberland Moors
To have cheese before or after dessert is often a debatable subject. In this case the ‘Cheese, Fig and Crackers’ came before our dessert courses. Four different cheeses severed with light crackers, bread, fig jelly and a honey and truffle sauce. The blue cheese was creamy and delicious, but the other three were slightly disappointing, lacking any real flavour. However, I have to say that the truffle honey was superb and added great sweetness and flavour where some of the cheeses were lacking. All in all I did enjoy this course.
Cheese, Fig and Crackers
Next was the pre-desert ‘Gariguette Strawberries’. It was heavenly, a strawberry panacotta with rose water, lemon balm and crunchy meringue. For a so called “pre-dessert” it was huge, but it was so good I could have eaten two.
The next dessert course was Dark chocolate, Wattle Seed, Coffee and Cardamom. Not as memorable as the panacotta; slightly dry but still very tasty.
Throughout the evening the staff were superb. Very friendly and attentive without being too overbearing. They explained the dishes confidently and made our experience relaxed and memorable. However I feel that even though it is written on the menu, a 12.5% service charge on the final bill seems a little cheeky. In all honesty, myself, and most people who visit House Of Tides will be willing to pay a 10% -15% tip (or even more). However, when it is assumed you should pay this it does leave a bitter taste in the mouth, which is slightly disappointing.
On our way out of the restaurant, we were lucky enough to meet Kenny Atkinson himself. I was very pleased that he is as nice and down to earth in real life as he seems on TV. House of Tides is certainly ‘the talk of the Toon’, and deserves to be for all the right reasons.
Bill for two: £194 (Including drinks and service charge)
Food: Modern British
Service: Welcoming, attentive and friendly
Atmosphere: Relaxed and casual
Overall: 9 / 10