“ 36 Leazes Park Road / Newcastle Upon Tyne / NE1 4PG / Tel: 0191 261 8927 „
Big Mussel, an independent restaurant in Newcastle, is my all time favourite place to eat in the Toon and I have visited countless times. The restaurant promotes a laid back, casual atmosphere but serve outstanding food, particularly seafood of which I am a massive fan.
As the name suggests the house speciality is the mussels, which are locally sourced, and believe you me they are fabulous. I love mussels and these are definitely some of the best Ive ever had. The mussels are consistently juicy, plump and flavoursome and come served with one of a selection of outstanding sauces, in addition to chunky home cooked chips with mayo and a crusty white roll. The sauces change occasionally although the classic (garlic, cream and white wine) thankfully remains a staple. Some of the other sauces currently on offer are: Spanish (garlic, saffron, chorizo and cream), Belgium (beer, bacon and cabbage), Thai (green curry, spring onion and coconut milk). I have tried many different sauces and all have been great although the classic is definitely my firm favourite. A kilo of mussels costs £13.95 and there is also a half kilo option for £6.95.
There is also the Big Mussel platter, a selection of huge green lipped mussels served piping hot straight from the oven on an open platter and topped with sauces such as the Florence (bacon, mushrooms and mozzarella) or the Provencale (Tomato, basil, prawns, garlic and Mozarella). The platters are priced at £12.95 and are also served with chunky chips, mayo and a white roll. Ive had the platter once and really enjoyed it but on the whole I prefer the kilo of mussels as you seem to get a lot more and the platter has a tendency to go cold quickly.
Mussels of course are not the only thing on the menu. Starters at The Big Mussel include crab cakes (£6.50), sautéed squid (£6.25), prawn cocktail (£5.95) and a selection of dishes for the non-fish lover such as Mediterranean Salad (£6.25) and potato skins (£3.95).
Mains include traditional basics such as scampi or fish and chips (both £8.95). There are also fillets of fish such as the seabass, served with parmesan risotto with a warm red pepper & olive dressing (£12.95) and the salmon, served with spring vegetables with a beetroot pesto (11.25). Additionally there are a good selection of pastas (priced at around £8), meat dishes, including exceptional but expensive steaks (priced up to£15.95) and several interesting sounding vegetarian options (priced at around £8).
Accompaniments include seasonal vegetables (£1.95), onion rings (£1.95), olives (£1.95) and mixed salad (£1.95), amongst many others.
Additionally, there are always specials advertised on blackboards in the restaurant, which change regularly.
Deserts are all priced at £4.95 and include options such as chocolate torte and crème brulee. Theres also an excellent cheese board composed of locally sourced Northumberland cheese priced at £4.95 for one or £7.50 for two.
There is also a Sunday lunch menu, with options that change regularly and which is, as you might expect, primarily fish based. The Sunday lunch menu is available between 12-3pm. One course is priced at £6.95, two courses at £9.95 and three at £12.95.
The food has always been of exceptional quality, with good portion sizes and we have never had to wait too long.
The Big Mussel speciality on the drinks front are the many varieties of Belgium beer all priced at £3.95 and definitely worth a try, especially as an accompaniment to the kilo of mussels. Big Mussel also serve your usual selection of wines by the glass or bottle, spirits, soft drinks and teas and coffees.
As you have probably noted from above the Big Mussel isnt cheap but the fabulous thing is that they have many offers available.
The best Big Mussel offer is the clock-saver deal which is available Monday-Friday between 5.30 and 7pm. At these times Big Mussel offer a limited menu at heavily reduced prices. The menu includes pastas (£6.50), fish and chips/scampi and fish cake salad (£6.95), the kilo of mussels (£9.95) and mussel platters (£8.95). This is still a good discount although sadly the offer is no where near as good as it was two years ago when this was a proper clock-saver deal. Hence you could order at 5.45pm and get a kilo of mussels for £5.45 which was a serious bargain.
Big Mussel also offer the 6 squid lunch which also features a limited menu with similar options to the above (although the mussels are ½ kilo in this case) and also includes a selection of hot paninis.
Loyalty cards are provided with the bill and can be stamped after each visit. Once you have four stamps Big Mussel will allow you one free 6 squid lunch on them!
There is also a £13 two course menu at Leazes Park on Newcastle United home match day.
Finally, theres also 15% off for students who present their NUS card.
Other Bits and Bobs
The service in The Big Mussel has always been exceptional. The waiters and waitresses are attentive without being pushy which suits the relaxed and casual air in these restaurants.
The Big Mussel restaurants have been non-smoking for over a year which I think is exceptional. In fact, The Big Mussel was the first restaurant in the North East to receive the Gold National Clean air Award.
The atmosphere is laid back and casual and Id feel just as comfortable in my jeans as in something a little dressier. The décor isnt anything special and the restaurant is simply furnished with a lower level and an upper level and balcony. In all honesty perhaps the place could do with a refurbishment but this isnt something that bothers me and I like the homely style.
The toilets are tiny and the ladies are a little too near the kitchens, but they are clean and theres usually fresh flowers, plenty of good quality hand wash and functional hand-dryers.
The clientele are varied although I dont feel that the restaurant is particularly family friendly. There is no kids menu and I cant recall ever seeing children in the restaurants at any point, although I am sure they are welcome.
The Big Mussel sells a range of merchandise in their restaurants and online. The best of this merchandise is the mussel pots branded with the Big Mussel logo. Priced at £16.50 these make lovely gifts for fans of mussels. Other Big Mussel merchandise includes: T-Shirts (£7.99), gents boxer shorts (£6.75), caps (£6.50), chefs Hats (£6.50), ladies briefs (£6.75), mugs (£2.99), pens (£0.99) and key rings (£0.99).
Location, Contact Details and Opening Hours.
There are currently two Big Mussel restaurants in Newcastle.
The largest and most popular of the two is located on the Newcastles fabulous Quayside just around the corner from some of the best bars and nightlife available. The nearest metro station is Monument, from which head straight down Grays Street to the river and you will pass the restaurant on your right.
15 The Side
Newcastle Upon Tyne
0191 232 1057
The other newer restaurant is found just near St James Park and is nearer to the City Center. The nearest metro station is St James but the restaurant is also only a few minutes walk from both Monument and Haymarket.
36 Leazes Park Road
Newcastle Upon Tyne
0191 261 8927
Both of the Big Mussel restaurants open for lunch between 12noon and 2pm Monday-Friday and re-open for dinner from 5.30 until 10.15. Both are open all day from 12noon until 10.15 on Saturdays. The Quayside restaurant is open from 12noon -3pm on Sundays while the Leazes park restaurant is shut unless there is a match at St James.
The Big Mussel is widely regarded as one of the best seafood restaurants in Newcastle and given that they sell a wide range of non-fish dishes this is a super place for everyone. The mussels are seriously some of the best Ive ever had and I highly recommend them in particular. All in all the Big Mussel serves fabulous food in a casual setting and although it is pricey there are many offers and discounts to be taken advantage of. Five stars for the Big Mussel then it is my most regularly visited and favourite restaurant in Newcastle.