Poetic License Bar – Roker, Tyne and Wear

Poetic License Bar, in the Best Western Roker Hotel, is situated on the rugged North Sea coast at Roker.

It’s part of Tavistock Hospitality group so you’re guaranteed some very tasty, locally produced drinks –  craft beers from Sonnet 43 brewhouse and craft gins from Poetic License distillery.


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Poetic License Bar – ‘Distillery bar and soul food’


Having been for a walk along the rugged, exposed coast to Camels Island first, we’d worked up a thirst and an appetite.

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The Poetic License Bar is in the Best Western Roker Hotel . We passed the botanical garden on the way in, which looked really appealing with its chunky log wall.

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Botanical garden – nice log wall


These craft gins from Poetic License (the distillery is at the bar – handy!) are already winning awards, less than a year after launching: Old Tom Gin and Northern Dry Gin. They make a perfect gift for all the special gin lovers out there, no?


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Poetic License – perfect serves


At £3.75 a single or £5.75 a double, the three ‘perfect serves’ pictured above are:

left: Old Tom with Fevertree premium ginger ale, cinnamon and red apple – my favourite (nice and dry, I loved the flavours of ginger and cinnamon spice)

centre: Northern Dry with Fevertree premium Indian tonic water and pink grapefruit

right: Picnic gin strawberries and cream flavoured gin with a Fevertree elderflower tonic water and fresh strawberries (sounds sickly but it wasn’t)


Service was slow and a bit blasé. It took well over an hour for our food to arrive. But we were happy to keep trying out more gins…


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Blue cheese and walnut salad with grapes and chicory @ £9.95 – slightly sickly and creamy (just as it looks)


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New York style Reuben burger – 8oz beef burger with pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing @ £9.45

Also served with lettuce, tomato, mayo and dill pickle in a brioche bun with skin-on fries and house slaw. Good value for such a filling meal, and great quality beef burger.


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Look at the size of that – get your chops around this. If you can.



The verdict: Excellent range of drinks. Skip the salads and go straight for a burger. And check out the website for theme nights and promos.


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Pub, British
– Address: Roker Hotel, Roker Terrace, Roker, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
– Postcode: SR6 9ND
– Nearest metro stations: Stadium of Light, Seaburn
– Website + menus: Poetic License Bar website
– Photos on flickr: Poetic License Bar images
– Location: Poetic License Bar map


The Bridge Tavern – Newcastle

Microbrewery + craft beer pub in Central Newcastle

It’s a lovely sight that awaits us as we enter The Bridge Tavern (under the Tyne Bridge) for a Sunday roast today: a long bar of craft beers (good variety of pale ales, Christmas beers, stouts and weiss), fermenting beers at the back, a spacious room of solid wooden tables, and a friendly greeting from the bar staff.

What more could you ask for?

Good food? Tick.

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Fermenting brews – Brit hop gold, West Coast American pale, session lime IPA

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Variety of craft beers – pale ales, stouts + Christmas beers including a microbrew Bridge Tavern pale ale

We try a few beers before eyeing up the food menu and Sunday roast menu. C and I home in on beer battered haddock, triple cooked chips and mushy peas with homemade tartar sauce @ £9.95, while K orders a pulled pork bun with kimchee slaw and pickles and triple cooked fries @ £9.95. It’s all mighty fine.

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Beer battered haddock, triple cooked chips + mushy peas @ £9.95

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Pulled pork bun, kimchee slaw + pickles @ £9.95

The verdict: Lovely comfy pub, great range of beers, great service, good food. The craft beer scene in Newcastle may have taken longer to get going than many other cities but it’s well and truly here now. Keep abreast of all the latest with Cheers North East magazine.


Pub info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Pub, British, craft beers,
~ Address: 7 Akenside Hill, Newcastle
~ Postcode: NE1 3UF
~ Nearest metro: Monument
~ Website + menus: The Bridge Tavern website
~ Photos on flickr: images of The Bridge Tavern
~ Location: The Bridge Tavern map

More North East dining:
~ Bistro Romano – Cleadon Village
~ Cafe Bangla – Boldon
~ Clarence Villa – home of Sonnet 43 brewhouse
~ Colman’s fish + chips – award winning chippy on Ocean Road, South Shields
~ Orangegrass – top Thai

Bridge Tavern on Urbanspoon

Eastern Touch – Tyne + Wear

What better way to celebrate Christmas Eve than with a take-away Indian meal from the Eastern Touch, Boldon?

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Shared starters: Singara, onion bhaji + samosa

Our meal for four (totalling about £43) consisted of:
~ Singara (minced meat pasty) @ £2.35
~ Veggie samosa @ £2.25
~ Onion bhajis @ £1.95
~ Chicken dupiaza @ £4.75 – medium hot with chunky onions
~ Lamb biryani @ £6.25
~ Chicken rogan josh @ £4.75
~ King prawn sheshlik @ £8.95
~ Peshwari nan @ £1.75 x2
~ Buttered chapati @ £0.95 x2
~ Tarka dall @ £2.50
~ Boiled rice @ £1.95 x2

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Chicken dupiaza

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King prawn sheshlik

For the sheshlik dish, the king prawns were marinated in a special exotic sauce, grilled over a charcoal, fried with capsicums, onion, black pepper and cumin and then prepared in a medium thick sauce (very good, if a little oily).

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Chicken Rogan josh – medium hot cooked with lots of tomato thick sauce.

This wasn’t the high-end style of nearby Cafe Bangla by any means but nonetheless, for a more traditional take-away Indian the Eastern Touch certainly delivers. Let the festive season commence.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Address: 2-4 Station Approach, East Boldon, Tyne & Wear
~ Postcode: NE36 OAB
~ Tel: 0191 536 4898
~ Website + menus: Eastern Touch website
~ Eastern Touch photos on flickr
~ facebook: Eastern Touch page on fb
~ Location: Eastern Touch map


Nearby dining:

~ Bistro Romano – Cleadon Village
~ Cafe Bangla – Boldon
~ Colman’s fish + chips – award winning chippy on Ocean Road, South Shields

The Eastern Touch on Urbanspoon

Bistro Romano – Cleadon Village Tyneside

Romano Minchella’s Italian restaurant

The Minchella reputation goes before itself in the North East (in part due to Toney Minchella’s award-winning ice-cream) but will Bistro Romano live up to expectations? LardButty takes an appetite and thirst, and finds out…

That Bistro Romano has no website, no online menu and no official presence on the web, yet is hugely popular (with every table taken on this particular evening) despite being located in a village 11 miles from central Newcastle, is indicative of this restaurant’s excellence.

K’s parents had booked a table for four at 7.30pm last Friday. Arriving early, we had a drink at the bar which has a wide range of spirits (I had a Martin Miller gin, K had a Caol Ila smoky malt whisky) before being seated at an appealing large round table in the window.

House wines start from £16 upwards (for a Sicilian dry white, for example) and we homed in on a bottle of Chardonnay reasonably priced at £18 a bottle. There’s an extensive menu (includes locally sourced beef, a variety of fish and seafood dishes and all kinds of pasta, with main courses ranging from £14 for pasta to £22 for steak) as well as a ‘Daily Specials’ list.

For starters I chose goats cheese and butternut parcels (really light flaky pastry packed with goats cheese) and K had a fishcake (made with risotto rice rather than mashed potato). Both were stunning, in presentation and taste.

Fishcake starter – fish and risotto rice @ about £8

Goats cheese + butternut parcels – starter pastries @ about £7

For main course, I chose sea bass from the Daily Specials list, described as ‘sea bass on a bed of roast Mediterranean vegetables served with crispy potatoes and a spicy tomato sauce’ (the sauce wasn’t at all spicy but was thoroughly tomato-ey and very good) as opposed to the sea bass option on the regular menu which was served with chorizo and crispy roast potatoes instead.

Sea bass in ‘spicy’ tomato sauce with crispy potatoes – a Daily Special @ £18.90

K had baked cod, a substantial fillet that tore into light fish flakes, served with bacon and peas.

Baked cod @ £18.90

The Turkish delight ice-cream was nicely different (if you like the rose water flavours of Turkish delight, which I do) although slightly ruined by what tasted like chocolate sauce from a plastic bottle (not fresh chocolate sauce) while K’s lime and panna cotta cheesecake was again, a little bit different, and a simply divine mix of cheese and lime flavours.

Turkish delight ice-cream

Lime + panna cotta cheesecake

Overall, this is a great restaurant. It may be off the beaten track but by the time we left, every table was full. With exceptionally friendly, helpful service, the atmosphere here is as good as the food and drink. Romano’s is all about the quality.

On another visit to Bistro Romano (to celebrate K’s parents’ ruby wedding, November 2013) K had a daily specials starter of Asian noodles (@ £6.90) – an outstanding blend of South East Asian flavours, utterly gorgeous! and medallions of fillet steak @ £22.90 for main course, while I had smoked haddock fishcake with a poached egg for starter @ £6.90 (sheer perfection) and roast belly pork @ £17.90 with the most perfectly crisp, thin piece of crackling.

Asian noodles + medallions of fillet steak

Roast belly pork with perfect, thin crackling (scratchings)

It was a Saturday evening; every table in the restaurant was taken. And everything was excellent for our party of eleven – all plates were served at the same time (immaculately), service was really friendly and efficient, and the food was stunning.

After several visits (where everything’s been excellent) the Lardbutty rating for Romano’s goes up to a top-ranking 5 out of 5.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
~ Type: Italian, British
~ Address: 63 Front Street, Cleadon Village
~ Postcode: SR6 7PG
~ Tel: 0191 519 1747
~ Website + menus: N/A
~ Bistro Romano photos on flickr
~ Location: Bistro Romano map
~ Minchella’s: Toney Minchella’s ice-cream


More North East dining:
~ Cafe Bangla
~ Clarence Villa – home of Sonnet 43 brewhouse
~ Colman’s fish + chips – award winning chippy on Ocean Road, South Shields
~ Orangegrass – top Thai

Bistro Romano on Urbanspoon

Cafe Bangla – Lardbutty ‘Jolliest Chef’ award goes to Ali Hussain – CLOSED

Since closed down

Cafe Bangla is a small tandoori restaurant in the village of East Boldon on the outskirts of South Shields, and is an unlikely – but altogether pleasing – find.

The restaurant has a feel of a large living room, with only about ten tables (probably around 50 covers). Given the spectacular contemporary cuisine, great service, and its listing in the Michelin Guide 2010, it’s not surprising that it gets booked up quickly, so do phone ahead to make a reservation.

On our visit last night (my second time here) I had dam baigan as a starter: a grilled half aubergine stuffed with vegetables and topped with yoghurt, which was perfectly cooked and served and a lovely blend of flavours.

Dam baigan (aubergine starter) @ £4.50

I opted for a fish main course (fish – as opposed to seafood – can be tricky to get right in curries, and I find it rarely travels well in deliveries as it can go overly soggy, or lose its meatiness, in transit). Here, Chef Ali Hussain’s patrani mach was a good choice – so fresh that the flavours of the fish fillet (marinated fish, steamed in foil) were still sufficiently distinct from those of the green sauce (green paste, onion, fresh herbs) while also complementing one another.

Patrani mach @ £13.90

Other dishes that our party ate, included haleem chicken (cooked with four different types of lentils and topped with ginger, onions, lemon, chilli and coriander) and Goan chicken (chicken marinated with aromatic spices, cooked with five spices, onions, peppers, tomatoes with coconut and goan chilli, and served with baby spinach).

Haleem chicken @ £8.90

Goan chicken @ £12.90

…and it was a very satisfied party!

Service from the waiting staff was good throughout but it was really topped off at the end of our dining experience (yep, I purposely wrote ‘dining experience’ rather than ‘meal’ because that’s what it was – check out the beautiful presentation of the dishes in the photos above: every aspect thoughtfully done) when Chef Ali Hussain came to chat with us.

He told us with great enthusiasm about being presented with another Curry Life ‘Curry Chef of the Year’ award in London last week.
Ali Hussain – also gets Lardbutty’s ‘Jolliest Chef’ award

For his amazing, imaginative cuisine and for being so outstandingly jolly, Lardbutty is also awarding Ali with a very special Jolliest Chef award.

Until the next time.

3 Nov 2011: according to @AliHussain01 on Twitter, Ali has been nominated for the British Curry Awards 2011

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian, tandoori
~ Address: 2 St Bedes, Station Road, East Boldon, Tyne & Wear
~ Postcode: NE36 0LE
~ Tel: 0191 519 0929
~ Nearest metro station (north-east): East Boldon
~ Website: Café Bangla website
~ Location: Café Bangla map

RELATED LINKS More North East dining: ~ Bistro Romano ~ Cafe Bangla ~ Clarence Villa – home of Sonnet 43 brewhouse ~ Colman’s fish + chips – award winning chippy on Ocean Road, South Shields ~ Orangegrass – top Thai

Café Bangla on Urbanspoon