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As You Like It (Newcastle upon Tyne)

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11 Reviews

Archbold Terrace / Jesmond / Newcastle upon Tyne / Tel: 0191 281 2277.

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    11 Reviews
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      29.06.2011 13:46
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      Decent food in dodgy surroundings

      Since signing up to Groupon our restaurant visiting seem to have escalated. We've revisited old favourites, and been to some we've been promising to try for ages. "As You Like It" falls into the second group; I've partly avoided it because people whose culinary judgment I wouldn't really trust have lavished praise on it but I thought that with a voucher for a £20 discount from my food bill (your drinks cannot be discounted) it might be worth a try to see if it lived up to the hype.

      AYLI (this abbreviation is used by the restaurant) is more than just a restaurant. It's also a bar, a club and, during the day it promotes itself as a bit if an upmarket coffee shop. It calls itself a "gastro pub" but I think it's way too big to fall into that category of eatery.You can eat in the bar but you must order from a bar food menu; a couple who hadn't booked asked if they could order from the restaurant menu but eat in the bar and were told this wasn't possible. Essentially this is a poseurs paradise. When we visited there were plenty of people who didn't fit the stereotypical image of an AYLI customer and I suspect this was down to the fact that there were only a couple of days left to redeem the Groupon. Usually the clientele is young, mindlessly hip and with fairly deep pockets. I know that some of the Newcastle United players frequent Mr. Lynch, a pub almost opposite the restaurant, and I wouldn't be surprised if they come to AYLI too.

      Imagine the result when you try to create a cross between a dilapidated French chateau and a cosy English inn, and present it in a 1970s concrete office block building. It doesn't sound pleasant and the reality isn't much better. The table next to ours had some kind of "frame" around it - a four poster dining table if you like, vaguely North African and totally out of place. The overall look is shabby chic which is hilarious really when you contrast it with the staff who have all clearly been chosen for their looks than for their knowledge of food, ability to communicate with a variety of customers (Am I wrong in thinking it's naff to present pensioners with their food saying "How's it goin' guys?" or perhaps it's me that's the fuddy duddy?) and awareness of when people do and don't want attention from the service staff. There's one staff member whose job it is to greet diners at the front door and show them to their table upstairs; I felt safe in the knowledge that she was wired up to someone (the kitchen, the bar, MI5?) with an earpiece - Aneka Rice meets maitre d' I'm not sure how many tables there are (no more than thirty I'd guess) but with nine waiting staff visible at 6.30 on a Tuesday night I'd say that they were way overstaffed.

      Aneka Rice showed us to our table and asked if we'd be having wine: how should I know? I hadn't seen the menu. If I chose the AYLI burger I might order a beer or a coke, other dishes might warrant wine; until I've seen the menu I don't know what I'll be drinking. She explained how the wine list works (it lists wine usually but let's not appear too clever): there are a couple of wines that can be had by the glass. Then the wines are divided into reds, whites, etc and within each type they are presented in pairs. The first is, we were told, a wine that we might have tried before, the second is a less well known alternative, but one that has similar characteristics to the first. I found this quite patronising, just give a list and let people choose. The one we eventually chose, a white ...from Argentina, was one we knew and it was from the "Be daring" (I kid you not) list. £16.50 was a fair restaurant price for this perfectly palatable crisp, aromatic wine.

      From advertising I've seen I had the impression that AYLI uses locally sourced meats and other ingredients in its menus but the only example I could find was a mention of Elsdon, a delicious cheese from Northumbria. If the meat was organic and/or from a local farm, it certainly wasn't mentioned;I don't like to see too much fancy flowery description on a menu but this one needs a bit more detail if AYLI wants to demonstrate a commitment to using good, locally sourced ingredients. (I'd have also thought that given the current economic situation a "we'll scratch your back if you scratch ours" approach to naming suppliers for which they mention in their advertising the restaurants they supply to, would advantageous to all concerned). The fish choices were uninspiring - Newcastle Brown Ale Battered Cod with chips, or a oriental influenced dish with salmon: it would have been nice if a little imagination had been employed, perhaps using some of these more sustainable fish we're forever being told to try.

      We skipped starters (of which the most interesting on offer were the boards for sharing - the one with the Bayonne ham looked very tasty and at £12,95 it certainly should) and headed straight for the mains. I picked the slow roast pork while Himself ordered the lamb. From the descriptions we assumed that neither dish required side orders and we declined when asked by the waitress who took our order. We were right too because the meals, although they did not look like big portions, were actually quite filling and the presentation was quite deceptive. Only a very greedy person would want side orders with the meals we chose and, what's more, when you pay £16 for a main course somewhere like this (so not top end, but still quite pricy) you don't expect to have to add extras.

      My pork was served with fondant potato, a black pudding dumpling, a small pile - barely even a tangle - of (I think) baby spinach leaf and peas and the faintest smear of apple puree. The pork was, indeed, slow cooked and it just fell to pieces when I touched it with the knife and fork. It was moist and tender but it was very salty (and from a salt lover like myself) and more like cured gammon than roast pork. The dumpling was interesting; the black pudding had been crumbled or chopped and mixed into the suet mixture and after cooking, the dumpling was cut into oblong slices. I like black pudding and I thought this was an tasty and unusual element to the dish but it was also quite filling and, given that there was also the fondant potato - this looked brilliant and was executed almost perfectly but let down at the very end by being not quite cooked all the way through, the plate didn't need two forms of carbohydrate. The gravy was a lovely rich wine reduction and there was just the right amount of it but the smear of apple puree was not only mean but positioned so that it almost disappeared behind the pork and might have been missed altogether had it not been for my dining partner who could see it from his position on the opposite side of the table and asked what the orange gunk was. I managed to sample the puree with the pork and while it was OK, it wasn't really enough to be able to comment more thoroughly.

      Over on the other side of the table Himself was very happy with the colour of his roast lamb. He was asked whether he wanted it pink or just over (clearly this chef does not include 'well done' in the range of cooking option and quite right too!) and asked for it to be pink: it was perfectly done and almost melted in the mouth. It was served with caponata, a dish I usually describe as an Italian ratatouille based on peppers, (two) chickpea chips and hummus (though this was only according to the menu - what appeared on the plate was not very hummus-like). Himself asked whether caponata is meant to be served cold, as his was barely lukewarm, as far as I know it's served hot (but I'm happy to be corrected). The chickpea chips were a great idea: they appeared to be made from mashed chickpeas, or some kind of mixture formed from chickpea flour, moulded into chip shapes and coated with a light covering of polenta which had turned golden brown when fried. He liked these very much but thought one more would have been good. As for the hummus, that wasn't immediately obvious on first looking at the plate and some investigation suggested it might have been the yellowy drizzle around the plate, more of an oily garlicky dressing than a gloopy creamy hummus.

      For dessert we shared a nicely presented panna cotta dressed with summer berries; it was lean on the berries but the panna cotta was one of the best I've eaten, beautifully creamy and with a perfect texture. As well as a the liquid from the berries there was a honey syrup which was very sweet and might have been nice with a different dessert but just added a cloying and unneeded extra layer of sweetness to this dish. I'd say that given the AYLI prices generally, this dessert was worth the £5.50 it was priced at.

      The food we had was mostly very good with just a few bloopers here and there; I'd like to know more about the origin of the meat and if it's not local then it really should be at this type of restaurant. The menu is not that inspiring and certainly isn't for fish eaters and vegetarians - especially if a dull option of penne in a mushroom sauce (even if it does contain sunblush tomatoes) is anything to go by (and with an £11.95 price tag they should be ashamed).

      The service was so so and I was disappointed by the emphasis on appearance over communication. The waiting staff were polite but too laid back, in my opinion. Perhaps if they spent more time being helpful and interested they wouldn't spend so much time posturing and trying to look cool. I felt a bit like a grandmother being taught to suck eggs when the wine list was explained to me, but I'm wiling to bet that none of those youngsters could offer any more on the wines than I could have lerned from the wine list.

      Perhaps in different surroundings I'd have liked it more but I can't help thinking this place is for posey people and staffed by posey people. It's too pricy for a gastropub and nowhere near as classy as other Newcastle restaurants in this price bracket. As a result i'm reluctant to recommend it with any great enthusiasm. I'd like to see a makeover with some genuine and knowledgable staff and perhaps I'll rethink.

      Archbold Terrace
      Jesmond

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        21.01.2009 21:42
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        Nice food and a good place to meet friends

        I have been to As You Like It a Number of times now and my opinion of it has changed for the better!! First time I went in I hated it but there defintely have been some changes for the better, to the menu and also the staff.

        The bar is quite unique in its decor its an eccletic mix of furniture and unlike it's neighbour Mr Lynch its not shabby!!!

        The food is on the expensive side however the quality of the food is very good. If you are looking for food in a hurry let the staff know otherwise you may wait a while. The drinks are also more expensive than some other places in Newcastle and you are looking at £3 a pint.

        During the day is defintely somewhere you can bring young children as there are a lot of families in there for meals and there are toys for children.

        Although its open until 2am its not somewhere that I would spend all night in but mainly because its not in the centre of town. If you are driving its easy to get to and there are 3 public car parks around the area the bar is situated in.

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          09.03.2008 15:35

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          We went to As you like it in November 07 for the first time and had a really great time. My son recommended it as he is local to Jesmond, otherwise as tourists we would never have known about it. Nothing at all like it here in Huddersfield, will definately be going back with friends next month. G.Holmes

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          11.02.2008 07:46
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          Restaurant with live cabaret

          As you like it

          Situated in Jesmond, a short car drive from the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, this is one of those places which I think you would have to know it was there; there is little chance that you would be passing, and so go in for a meal.

          First impressions are of a rather unattractive building set in a rather bleak square just off the by pass. It's almost certainly somewhere which unless I hade been before I would go to on the assumption that it "looked pretty". Once inside the restaurant/bar, impressions quickly change.

          ~~The restaurant/bar~~

          There is a large entrance area, and anyone having made a reservation for the restaurant should make themselves known at the small desk; this is especially important when it gets a bit later in the evening because they do charge an entrance fee, although if you have eaten in the restaurant, then this charge is waived.

          The restaurant itself is upstairs, and features an eclectic mix of furniture. The floor is all stripped pine as are the tables, and all of the chairs, chandeliers, and accessories seem to have been bought at various junk shops and placed in the restaurant. It was whilst I was pondering the placing of a large screen next to our table that I realised this is probably exactly what had been done. It's the kind of décor which will either appeal or not. Similarly, the fact that there is an open gallery, and the sights and sounds of the bar downstairs are obvious, then anyone wanting a very quiet and intimate dinner a deux may not find this the best choice of restaurant!

          The bar downstairs has a wide selection of sofas and low tables, so plenty of chance to rest weary feet and chat. The bar runs the length of the area and stocks a wide selection of drinks, including in house special cocktails which change on a regular basis and organic beers. At the back of the downstairs area is a large stage which features cabarets every Friday and Saturday night. These acts change but are always well advertised in advance so guests can chose the ones they want to see.

          At the very back of the downstairs area is a large terrace, again with comfy chairs, sofas and low tables. It's open to guests winter and summer, but since the view isn't great it's not really worth the visit when it's cold!

          ~~The Menu and food~~

          They aim to use as much locally grown produce as possible, and the theory is to keep the food as simple as possible.

          There are separate lunchtime and evening menus, with the Saturday evening menu being served from 12 noon until 10pm. This evening menu features starters and sharing plates with prices ranging from £4 for soup and crusty bread to £9 for seared king scallops with butternut squash fritter and red wine reduction.

          The menu itself is very simple, and as you read it, it's quite quirky. The price isn't written in £s but rather writes the amount without £ signs, so we have 9 ½ pounds for £9.50. little Miss likes this bit of the menu- I somehow think it's easier for children to read and make sense of.

          There is a "Pies pasta and Comfort Food" section, with dishes such as steak and kidney pudding, creamy mash and onion gravy, costing £9.50, battered cod real chips mushy peas at £10.50. The "From the farm"section section offers such dishes as braised lamb shank and roasted poissin, whilst "From the Sea" has marinated shark steak, papillote of turbot fillet, and fresh Irish musssels.

          Side dishes and vegetarian dishes are available, and there is the option to order a sorbet in between courses to freshen up the mouth!

          The portions are always big, so it's worth not being overly enthusiastic with the side orders. The main dishes do come with extras to ensure you will be full, unlike some restaurants where the main dish is merely the item of food stated.

          The children's menu is quite varied, and at a cost of £5 for main and dessert, ensures that children eat proper food, with not a chicken nugget in sight. We have been for this meal on Saturday lunchtimes, and sat downstairs, since it's possible to order the food at the bar. The menu has a 100% organic section with things such as chilli, and spaghetti, whilst the other things children can order are sausages, organic cod and spaghetti with meatballs (a favourite!). There are also plenty of smoothies to order, which are £3 each.

          ~~Other bits of information~~

          From the restaurant the toilets are two floors down, so quite a walk. I suggest that you wait until you are in the bar! Thankfully, however, once you have made the journey, the toilets are clean, modern and plentiful.

          Saturday breakfast menu is served from 10 am till 5pmand the fixed price lunch menu at £9.95 for two courses is served from 12 noon till 2.30pm.


          ~~Address and contact information~~

          www.asyoulikeitjesmond.com. The website has all the information you are ever likely to need, and quite a lot you don't!

          Archbold Tce.,
          Jesmond
          Newcastle upon Tyne

          NE2 1DB

          Tel: 01912812277

          ~~Verdict~~

          For good food and big portions, I would recommend this place. The staff are friendly and courteous, and offer good service without it being over the top. It's a pleasant place to go for a Saturday lunch because it's child friendly, although I haven't yet taken Little miss at night (a tad inappropriate).

          There is plenty of space to park your car, and for anyone wanting to use public transport, it's only a few minutes walk from the Metro station.

          A recommended restaurant for anyone looking for somewhere a bit different- plenty of entertainment, open till 2am and thankfully not a dj in sight!!

          Thanks for reading.

          Daniela xx

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            17.12.2007 15:39

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            Never ever again-don't make the mistake of wasting your money at this place.

            After really looking forward to our Christmas meal here, we were all bitterly disappointed-the "5 course meal " was nothing short of appalling-with tiny portions of tasteless, inedbile food, the lamb being particularly fatty and over cooked. The apple tart tartan was a joke, served without any pastry even-just a spoonful of apple!
            The wine was over priced-for average chardonnay house wine; and the service very slow and snooty on the whole-a big let down.

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            06.07.2007 13:55
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            A great place to eat!

            'As You Like It’ which opened at the start of 2007 is currently the hottest restaurant in Newcastle to visit. Described as a Gastro Pub and Terrace this beautifully fitted restaurant serves an interesting but typically English menu all organic and locally sourced.

            I have been lucky enough to visit twice recently. Once on a Saturday lunchtime and once on a Saturday evening (different weeks mind you!) It’s fair to say that my partner and I fell immediately in love with ‘As You Like It’ an experience that I imagine has been shared by many of the clientele.

            The décour of ‘As You Like It’ is the first thing to impress. It’s a surprisingly huge place including an upstairs area only open in the evenings, a good sized terrace (although sadly the adjacent car park does not offer the not the most amazing of views) and a basement area including the exclusive Fragipani bar, catering for parties. There are also a number of smaller exclusive private rooms which can be hired for individual use and they state that they can cater privately for up to 350. The owners have travelled the world collecting interesting antiques including an old decoratively carved Asian wedding swing, old hymn book chairs and an old station clock. It’s stylish and individual. What’s more ‘As You Like It’ will take offers to sell their bits and bobs and may buy like minded things from you if you take them in.

            The menu is relatively small but interesting. Starters include the Charcuterie Plate to share, which we opted for on our evening visit: Salami, home smoked ham, home made pate, salad, gerkins and crusty bread (8 ½ pounds). There was more than enough and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Other starters include a home made soup of the day served with crusty bread (3 pounds), melted goats cheese on toasted crostini with pine nuts and slow roasted tomatoes (5 pounds) and seared king scallops with homemade sweet chilli jam, watercress and crème fraiche (9 pounds).

            Mains include a good variety of traditional English dishes including fish pie, shepherds pie and sausage and mash (all priced between 7 and 9 pounds). There’s also a selection of pricier mains including the fillet steak, venison casserole and a selection of fish dishes (priced between 14 and 20 pounds). I opted for the fish pie which was delicious and creamy, packed full of a variety of fish and prawns, topped with mash and served with peas and fresh bread. My partner had a burger topped with caramelised onions, salad and home cut chips, which he described as the best he had ever had! For non-meat eaters ‘As You Like It’ also offer a small but interesting selection of vegetarian dishes, such as the spicy bean and tomato stew with brown rice, salsa and sour cream (7 pounds) and the meze platter of olives, hummus, tzatziki, tabbouli and pita bread (9 pounds).

            We didn’t have pudding as we were stuffed by this point but the menu looked good and included English specialities such as treacle tart and butterscotch sponge pudding (priced at around 5 pounds) in addition to a good selection of enormous home made cakes on display next to the bar.

            As if this wasn’t enough ‘As You Like It’ serves Sunday lunches (8 ½ -10 ½ pounds) and a brunch menu from 10-12noon on Saturdays and Sundays only. There’s also a supper club from 10pm in which a limited menu is offered until midnight. From 10pm until 2am onwards a small jazz band plays wonderful music, perfect to while away the rest of the evening. A lighter lunch menu incorporating a selection of sandwiches, such as steak and caramelized onion (9 pounds) and smoked salmon and cottage cheese (7 pounds), in addition to a number of salads is also available. There’s also a fantastic and extensive drinks menu with wines and liqueurs galore and also including a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks such as home made fruit smoothies and teas and coffees.

            I was also impressed by the attitude ‘As You Like It’ has towards children which can be summed up well in the following: ‘We don’t think that having kids means spending the next 10 years in some jungle theme pub with meals names after Playstation characters served by Australian students dressed as giraffes!’ There’s an extensive children’s menu, including options like spaghetti and meatballs or fish and chip and the option to choose smaller portions from the main menu in addition. All of the children’s food is organic and home made, ‘you won’t find any turkey twizlers here’ thankfully.

            The staff were abundant, attentive and friendly without being overly pushy although I wonder if the number of staff will decline as the restaurant becomes more fully established. The toilets were spacious and clean. The atmosphere relaxed yet sophisticated including a broad clientele. I think I’ve covered everything and I conclude that ‘As You Like It’ is simply wonderful! For myself and an increasing number of other people organic and locally sourced foods are exceptionally important. Organic food is better for you and more flavoursome and locally sourcing, in this case cheeses from the Nothumberland Cheese Company and hand made ice-cream from North Doddington farm in Wooler, Northumberland, amongst others, helps to support the local economy as well as reducing food miles. But it’s not just these things. I loved the atmosphere and the environment, it’s a beautiful place, it’s original and interesting and has something to offer for everyone. Five stars hands down, the world needs more places like this!

            ‘As You Like It’ is about a mile from the centre of Newcastle. It is classified as Jesmond but is actually on the border of Jesmond and Sandyford in a someone odd location. It might help to mention that the restaurant is situated directly opposite Mr Lynch’s and is owned by the same people. Lynch’s is very trendy bar popular with students and furnished in the same obscure style to that of ‘As You Like It’ but with a much more casual air, great for a drink before dinner!

            For more information see: www.asyoulikeitjesmond.com

            Archbold Terrace
            Jesmond
            Newcastle Upon Tyne
            NE1 2DB
            0191 281 2277

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              20.06.2007 12:48

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              Don't believe what you read on the website!

              I always like to try out new places to eat/drink, and, having been impressed by the As You Like It website, I decided that it would be a good place to go for some Saturday brunch with friends who were visiting us for the weekend.
              When we arrived and asked for the breakfast menu, we were told that they 'haven't really bothered doing breakfasts since they opened', but that there were three options we could have which the waitress would need to check. 10 minutes later she returned and said we could have 'Manhattan breakfast' which was pancetta, fried bread, grilled tomatoes, and poached egg - for £10! Or we could choose an egg muffin for £8, or a 'bread basket' of pastries, croissants etc - I forget the price we were quoted for this now. Not only does the website give many more breakfast options than this, but the prices on the website are also much cheaper - £6.50 for a full English breakfast for example. I asked if it would be possible to have a bacon sandwich, so the waitress disappeared again to check - she returned after quite some time and said yes I could have a bacon sandwich and it would be £6. By this time we were tired of the slow service (there were only about 10 customers in the whole place and a few staff so no excuse really) and had already decided we were going to go elsewhere for our breakfast so I declined the offer. However, I was so annoyed by our experience, that I asked to speak to the manager. He had no explanation at all, and again just said they didn't really do breakfast. He also did not satisfactorily explain why the website prices were cheaper than those I had been quoted that day. I suggested to him that he updated his website as quickly as possible so that more people don't experience such a disappointing first visit. Now, 5 days later, the website has not changed, and I note that a bacon sandwich on the website is only £4.50 so why I was quoted £6 I don't know!
              So we drank our (admittedly very nice) coffees, paid the bill, and moved on to Cafe Bar One in the Cradlewell where we had a lovely full English for just £3.95.
              This all makes me sound rather stingy which I am not, it isn't about the money as such, it is about feeling happy that you have received good value and service for what you have paid for. As You Like It can't just make up random and inflated prices compared to their website and expect people to feel that they have had a good, customer focused experience. Their evening menu sounds lovely, and I had been planning to visit one weekend evening and try out the restaurant, terrace, and listen to the Jazz. At the moment, however, I doubt I will return.

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              08.06.2007 12:20

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              This place is WICKED!!!

              I visited As You LIke It in a group of 10 as a works night out and had pre booked a table. We arrived was shown our table and were able too wait around at the bar until the rest of our party arrived. It was Friday night at 7 and the place wasnt packed at all just nice and comfortable. Once everyone had arrived we took to our table. The decor in teh place is fab and really cosy and welcoming the staff were great and attended to all our needs. Our food didnt take long at all to come and the quality was excellent, i opted for the fish n chips which was delicious!!! We polished off a few bottles of wine and then the entertainment started a nice little jaz band not played too loud and we could all still hear each other. I would definately recommend this place and i have already arranged to go back with my partner as the food was the best i have had in a long time (fair enough you do pay a bit extra but in my mind its worth it) and the comfy cozy atmosphere and service was excellent.

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              06.06.2007 11:43

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              A lively ambiance. Large portions of excellent quality food. Friendly staff although the service is a little slow. Very good value for money.For those who enjoy traditional food in comfortable surroundings this is the spot to be. The bar area is limited and feels like a waiting room for the restaurant so go for food not just a drink.

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              17.05.2007 21:30

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              We will not be returning ......................................ever

              Oh dear! We should have taken the advice of the people who have already reviewed this restaurant on this website. My wife and I (and our twin five year old boys) decided to give "As You Like It' a try as there is another review on a different website that paints a different picture. Big mistake - this restaurant is a prime example of a modern restaurant that looks like it is a real restaurant but is in fact a "fast food" outlet in disguise!

              However the phrase "fast food" in this case does not apply to the service! We ordered at 5:45 when there was probably 10 other people in the restaurant. The decidedly average food (£14 for a plate of more or less tasteless pork stew - it reminded me of school dinners - and some rice that tasted as if it was microwaved and one piece of tasteless pak choi) arrived at 6:35

              My wife had a plate of mezze which was a massive conglomeration of glutinousness which was more or less inedible. It has to be said however that the boys demolished their meatballs and spaghetti and curly pasta.

              The drinks were overpriced £3.25 for a 175ml glass of very average chardonnay and £2.80 for a pint of"cooking" lager.

              The decor is "interesting" to say the least and there is trapeze on the roof - does someone actually perform at some point?!!!

              The waiter was very helpful and pleasant, and I thought he was going to cry when we expressed our disappointment. He suggested that we fill out a comments form which we subsequently did (basically expressing what we have said here). it will be interesting to see if we get a response!

              So my advice is take the advice of Collingwood 21 and avoid like the plague unless you have a lot of money and not an awful lot of taste!!

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              24.04.2007 21:59
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              Nice idea...shame about the reality

              Walking into “As You Like It” is like walking into an artist’s impression of what a cosy country pub should be. Unfortunately, said artist has clearly never been anywhere near the country, for he think that just by shoving a few antique sideboards, a few tables of different sizes and styles, and a jumbled mix of lived-in chairs into a room that the impression of an aged rural establishment can be created. It cannot. It takes more than a mish-mash of colours, fabrics and designs to create an ambience of decadence and rustic comfort. This restaurant instead looks horribly contrived, and the addition of a painfully trendy bar staffed by distinctly urban staff in black uniforms does nothing to alleviate the faux charm of the place. The “interesting” décor also clashes quite alarmingly with the setting of the lowest floor of a concrete office block; while the interior may strive to be the mansion from “Great Expectations” the exterior was more Nelson Mandela House.

              The selection of “As You Like It” for my Other Half’s recent birthday celebrations had initially started out as a very promising endeavour. The expensively published booklet that dropped through our door to announce the opening of Jesmond’s first gastro pub and terrace had wooed us with promises of an organic, locally-sourced menu of food, homemade dishes, and real ale. The sample menu of food that was included in this booklet made our mouths water, and the fact that this was a restaurant that seemed to support local farming just sealed our desire to eat there. “As You Like It” basically serves up pub grub, but posher, better presented, and a bit more expensively priced. I’ll give you an example. As good as bangers and mash is, doesn’t “rare breed pork sausages served on a Heritage potato mash with onion gravy” sound that much nicer? Or how about a Sunday lunch made from “leg of organic Northumbrian lamb studded with rosemary and garlic” as a change from roast chicken? Even the kids’ menu was impressive, just going to prove that restaurants are indeed capable of doing more than shoving endless turkey twizzlers, fish fingers and baked beans down children. I can’t imagine many parents would object to their offspring eating organic spaghetti and meatballs, a Northumbrian ham platter or a beef burger that is actually made from 100% organic beef. I like places that treat children as small adults rather than nuisances – if nothing else, it means that children will tend to behave more grown up if they are treated like grown ups, so they don’t become the nuisances to other diners that some “family” establishments treat them like to start with. (Having said that, I doubt I would want to bring any child of mine to this place; the atmosphere was more suited to wealthy 30-somethings in designer clothes than families with kids. The one family I saw there looked as distinctly uncomfortable as I felt).

              As this was a special occasion, we wanted to make sure that we had a table waiting for us upon arrival, so we could spend a relaxed evening enjoying ourselves. However, “As You Like It” apparently don’t believe in booking tables for groups smaller than eight people because (and I quote from their advertising) “it’s just easier not to”. Easier for who, exactly? We arrived at 7pm, both hungry from long days at work and eager to get stuck into our dinners only to find the place was full; not heaving or excessively busy, but all of the eclectic tables were occupied and there was, as it were, no room at the inn. A waitress directed back to a reception area, where we could join the overly complicated queuing system that involved giving waiting diners a pager to let them know when their table was ready for them. Or at least we tried to. It took ten minutes of waiting to actually get served by a member of staff, who caught us just as we were about to give it up for lost and walk out. The pager system was off tonight, she said, but if we wait at the bar, someone will come and get us when a table was ready. I quite fancied a glass of wine, but after seeing another customer charged £4.50 for a not-exactly-large glass (I could buy a bottle for that) I instead opted for a Magners and bought birthday boy a pint of Grolsch. Excuse me? Did you say £6.30 for that? Hmmm, I’m sure I wouldn’t be charged that much if I was genuinely in a cosy country pub.

              While we were perched on our uncomfortable bar stools sipping drinks that the bartender freely admitted were overpriced, two other groups of customers came in, were given pagers and got tables before us. And good tables, too. When we were finally offered one of our own, it was one of coffee table height squeezed into a darkened corner: despite being of small stature, I was left wedged into my chair at an awkward angle as I couldn’t get my legs properly under the low table. I should perhaps at this juncture point out that in the absence of an advertised dress code at this establishment, we went attired in our ordinary casual clothes – scruffy jeans, trainers and jumpers – which I suspect was part (all?) of the cause of this treatment. We simply weren’t trendy enough to get a good table, prompt service, pagers or somewhere to sit that didn’t cause backache and bruised knees. We were put into the darkest corner, well of the eye-lines of the beautiful people who were in the main part of the restaurant. Well, I suppose they didn’t want us putting other diners off their food now, did they?

              When we finally got the chance to order food, I chose the shepherd’s pie made from “organic Northumbrian lamb topped with Yukon gold mashed potato” (£8) and birthday boy had “whole lemon sole simply grilled with olive oil and lemon with heritage potatoes” (£11). These dishes took about an hour to get to us (despite the fact it wasn’t especially busy) and were so small when they arrived that I thought for a minute that we had accidentally been brought child-sized portions. Admittedly, what I had was excellent – the mince in the shepherd’s pie was obviously top quality and served in a wonderfully rich gravy, and the mash on top was light and fluffy – but I though for £8 there should have been a little more. I appreciate that meat is expensive, but it seemed they could have been distinctly more generous with the potato and veg (barely a tablespoonful of the latter, and a little undercooked at that). My Other Half similarly commented that his fish was gorgeous, but half a dozen mini-egg-sized spuds is really not that much for the money he was paying. I am not an especially greedy person, but from the advertising I saw, I was expecting something a good deal…heartier. I declined to try the dessert menu; I didn’t really want to pay another £5 for a teaspoonful of pudding that would probably take half the night to arrive.

              The final insult came when I went to the bathroom before leaving. The toilets themselves were well appointed, generously numbered and clean, and had a nice touch of providing bottles of hand cream alongside the soap. However, the washbasins were clearly designed with form ahead of function. They resembled a shell sunken into the counter, and as gorgeous as they were to look at, they were terribly shallow – and do you know what happens when you pour water into a very shallow basin? That’s right: it splashes up over the edge and soaks you. We left two hours after arriving, some £25 poorer, still hungry, and me with a wet jumper. It was a disappointing, humiliating experience and I felt thoroughly unwelcome. However nice those few mouthfuls of food were, I never ever want to set foot in “As You Like It” again – even if I have enough people in my entourage to book a table. It is a great idea for a business, but it really doesn’t work in practice.

              Definitely not recommended.

              www.asyoulikeitjesmond.com

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