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Like most people, I make resolutions every new year about things like losing weight, trying to be tidier, and getting my kids into a healthier routine. You know, the usual stuff. But when it’s my birthday, which was recently, I tend to make other resolutions such as what I want to do with my blogs, learning a new language or other, more personal things.
This year, I decided that I wanted to transform my culinary horizons. I love food (a little too much in some cases), but as a family, we’ve fallen into a relatively boring routine of cooking the same few recipes and when we order out, choosing the same few fast food places because we know it’s something that the kids will eat.
So, when my fortysomething birthday rolled around just a few days ago, I decided that I was going to learn how to cook, properly and visit some of the amazing restaurants around the North East for inspiration.
When I say learn to cook, I mean learn the basics from scratch when it comes to selecting, preparing and making food. I’m an OK cook, and there are a few recipes that are my speciality (hello, Beef Wellington), but I don’t have the knowledge it takes to be really good. I’ve signed up for an online course, so I’m hoping to be whipping up gourmet recipes and showing off my knife skills that would impress a Michelin star chef.
The restaurant scene in the North East has changed over the past few years. Having really young children and the COVID lockdowns mean that we’ve hardly had time to visit any of the fantastic new restaurants that have popped up in Newcastle and Durham.
It’s so easy to book tables now too, with many of the restaurants having their own online booking system or being on the SquareMeal platform where you can find a restaurant to suit your needs. Click here to visit SquareMeal and see what’s around you.
So which restaurants are on our culinary bucket list?
For some sophisticated tapas as well as an al a carte menu, No28 has become a popular Newcastle location. It’s also on every list of best bottomless brunches going. Frankly, they had me at tapas, which is my favourite cuisine and style of eating too.
Owned by celebrity chef Kenny Atkinson and his wife, Abbie, Solstice is a sophisticated dining experience. Like Atkinson’s other restaurant, House of Tides, they serve a tasting menu only. Changing seasonally, the tasting menu consists of around 15 servings. There’s also an accompanying wine tasting menu too. A little on the pricey side, I think we might save this one for a special occasion such as our anniversary later in the year.
The Hustle (Newcastle)
With something for everyone, the hustle combines a luxury-disco vibe with a selection of fantastic menus. I’ve also heard amazing things about their pizzas too. I think this is a perfect spot for a lazy day or evening without the kids, as their cocktail menu looks absolutely amazing.
The Rabbit Hole (Durham)
Describing itself as ‘part oriental grill and part speakeasy’, what’s not to love? This restaurant is only a couple of miles from where I live and I was lucky enough to get a gift voucher for my birthday. So this will likely be the first one that I get to visit.
The Rib Room (Durham)
Set in the beautiful Ramside Hall Spa Hotel, the Rib Room has a fantastic reputation with the carnivores in the region as doing some of the best steaks around. While we’re trying to cut down on meat as a family, we still love a good ribeye steak every now and again. The Sunday carvery is supposed to be epic too, so perhaps this is one we can visit with the kids.