Great Pre Night-out Italian
Member Name: beauty88
Advantages: Located near quayside bars, modern interior, good quality food, wide variety on menu, great value
Disadvantages: A bit too dark inside, loud music, waitresses too busy
I did a bit of research of the restaurants located near the main bars and found Babucho which is located on "The Side" which is a street just back from the Quayside and within close proximity of all the bars. This means it's a good one if you are going out afterwards, whereas if you were going for a quiet meal it may be little to close to the nightlife! Because the location is quite central there is no restaurant car park so you would need to find a city centre car park to use if you were driving.
I booked the restaurant online using the official website. The website is brilliant and easy to use, clearly they have put some money towards the design and development of the site and it really pays off. The website really showed off what the restaurant had to offer and the online booking facility was really easy to use and trustworthy. You don't have to pay anything to make the booking, you just leave your name and number.
The restaurant is located on a terraced row so isnt anything interesting to look at from the outside. It is a big place and stretches out along quite a distance of the street. The front of the building has huge glass windows so you can see inside to the bar area which is located at the front. The restaurant is located behind the bar and is made to feel quite a separate area despite it sharing the same floor and you can hear the same music.
There is an interesting ambience in the restaurant in that it was very dimly lit, possibly the most dimly lit restaurant I've ever been in. And the décor was very dark but luxurious looking. It created a kind of boudoir feel which was nice but was more bar like than restaurant and I think I would have preferred it to be slightly lighter whilst eating.
The restaurant itself is a huge space but there a various levels (by level I mean parts that are elevated by a foot) and the tables are all angled in different ways with small walls and plants separating off areas. This was really impressive and made it seem less like one big open room and more cosy and personal. Although our table was located right in the middle it didn't feel this way and felt private. I was also pleased that we hadn't been placed right next to a huge group which was a relief as there were quite a few big groups, hen parties etc.
The bar is clearly a bar in its own right and open to none-diners and when we arrived at 20:30 is was very busy, noisy and all the seats were taken and it also looked like quite a long wait to be served. Fortunately this wasn't a problem as we were seen straight to our table. There is a separate small bar area within the restaurant section which served primarily for waitresses to order drinks for tables. This ensured people dining in the restaurant would get drinks quickly without being held behind by the busy bar.
We ordered a bottle of Rose between the three of us. The choice was easy as there was only one Rose wine on the menu. This was slightly disappointing, especially since one wall was completely lined with wine bottles on a rack, yet they still only had one Rose wine... Although I'm not fussy about which wine I have its nice when there are at least two to choose from so it feels like it was your decision. The wine was £13.95 for the bottle which was a good price. The wine was pleasant but was not particularly chilled which was a shame. This wasn't helped by the fact that the holder it was in was not chilled. We didn't bother saying anything but it did ruin the wine a bit having it served at room temperature. We also ordered a jug of still water which fortunately was chilled with ice, so we had that to cool us down!
After the meal we decided to order some cocktails. They were a really great price at £6.50 each. I went for the "Nings Fling" which is "an exotic mix of lychee, vanilla and orange" It came in a martini glass and was a lovely cocktail. There was no fresh fruit used but then for the price I wasn't expecting this. For what we paid the cocktails were a great deal and we all enjoyed them.
The menu offers a big variety. There are several starters and breads, then various pasta dishes, pizzas, salads, meat dishes and also a special "English" section offering English classics such as fish and chips or steak pie. There was nothing groundbreaking on the menu that I hadn't seen before and it was very stereotypical Italian but I was happy with this. We decided to share a garlic pizza bread to start which arrived really quickly. It was served on an elevated metal holder which unfortunately elevated it a bit too high making it difficult to cut a piece off. But I suppose it was something a bit different. The bread was fresh from the oven so nice and hot, and the tomato sauce on top was rich and tasty. The pizza bread with tomato cost £4.50.
For the main course we all went with pasta dishes. I was feeling quite boring to be honest and went for the Penne Napoli which is penne pasta in a Napoli and Marscapone sauce. It was one of the more boring options on the menu but I really enjoyed it in the end. It arrived piping hot and the tomato sauce was nice and rich but was brought down from being too 'tomato-y- by the Marscapone which gave it a creamy finish and ensured that the sauce really stuck to the pasta. The portion of pasta was generous and the sauce was plentiful so it never felt dry or bland. We were offered parmesan and there was black pepper on the table to season. My meal was £6.50 which is pretty cheap but due to it being quite basic and vegetarian it was the cheapest on the menu and most of the other pasta dishes were around £8.00.
The service was generally ok but it was obvious that the waitresses were limited and the restaurant was very busy. It didn't really feel like we got one waitress, it seemed to be someone different each time which seemed a bit odd. The girls who served us were always polite but just came across a bit rushed and didn't bother to be overly friendly or talk to us. I didn't mind this too much as we were busy chatting anyway but I suppose its something you come to expect from other restaurants. I think the restaurant could have done with more waitresses on this busy night. In general the food and drinks came very quickly, however the cocktails took quite a while. We didn't mind as we weren't in any rush to leave but did get a bit impatient for the drinks which we were worried had been forgotten. We never needed to ask anything out of the ordinary or make any complaints, but I think the waitresses would have been concerned if we had done as they did seem like nice girls.
When it came to asking for the bill we were able to get a waitresses attention and it was brought to us quickly. We all put notes down and were glad when change was offered so we could leave a tip which we felt was suitable. The Bill came to £60 for a bottle of wine, 3 cocktails, a garlic pizza bread and 3 pasta dishes. At £20 each it was fantastic value and we were all happy to pay this amount and felt we got great value for money.
Overall this restaurant was perfect for what we wanted - a safe choice Italian meal for a good price to be followed by a night out. The atmosphere inside the restaurant was a bit too bar-like but suited the kind of night we were on. However I wouldn't recommend it for anyone wanting a quieter more intimate night that wont ultimately end up being a night out. And I particularly don't think its suitable for children, at least not on a weekend night. The food and drinks were excellent value and were directly relevant to the price we paid. The menu offers a wide variety of predominantly Italian foods so there is something for everyone.
26 The Side
Tyne House (Bottom of Dean Street)
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Tel: 0191 231 2840