“ The Biscuit Factory / 16 Stoddart Street / Newcastle upon Tyne / NE2 1AN / Tel:0191 260 5411 „
I was taken here on a date and it was fantastic. When we first went in we were seated on comfortable sofas and given olives and our order was taken for drinks. They also took our coats and hung them up. After a few minutes we were shown to our table. The decor inside is a mixture of brick/art pieces. It is very elegant as well as being quite unique. I had some kind of battered feta for starter which was delicious. For my main course I had butternut squash lasagne. It was served as a very small portion which the waiter asked me if i'd prefer a larger portion, but as i'd been ill I had a small appetite so it was perfect. The presentation of the food was quite modern but not over the top. For desert, my partner and I shared a sticky toffee pudding.
The food was all of very high quality and the service was fantastic. The restaurant was quiet when we were there but it was weeknight quite late on. The atmosphere was very nice and quite romantic with candles etc on the table.
I'm not sure of the price for the meal as it was paid for by my other half and I wasn't allowed to see! However from seeing the menu prices were higher than your standard restaurant but considering it is a 5* establishment and the quality of the food, did not seem overpriced.
I would go there again for a special occasion.
I visited the Brassiere Black Door at the Biscuit Factory yesterday for lunch. I have to confess I didn't pay as this was a business lunch, a thank you meal to the team I work for that one of the executive board members paid for (he also joined us hence being on the best behaviour). So maybe if this meal had been paid for by my own money I would have been a lot more critical.
The restaurant is located on Stoddard Street in Shieldfield Newcastle. It's within the Biscuit Factory art gallery. The surrounding area is quite rundown generally and not somewhere that you would expect one of Newcastle's "fine dining experiences" but don't let that put you off.
There is some parking at the front of the building and on the main road. However as this was a weekday lunch time it was difficult to get parked and I had to park a considerable way along the main road and walk, which as you can imagine in a pair of 5 inch heels didn't put me in the best of moods!
As mentioned the Brassiere Black Door @ The Biscuit Factory is located in The Biscuit Factory Art Gallery. It is open Monday to Saturday 12pm-2pm and 7-10pm.
I would recommend making a reservation just to ensure that there is a table available.
The décor of the restaurant is modern, lots of dark wood tables, the bar is extremely polished and made from expensive looking dark wood, leather sofas and leather dining chairs.
What really sets this restaurant apart with being located in the art gallery is the art which is displayed around the restaurant. The art displayed is by a variety of artists all of which can be purchased therefore the art in the restaurant is rotated. The price tags are displayed and most of the art that I liked started at £2000 per piece. So don't expect bargain price tags.
The restaurant is smaller than I expected and quite intimate. It wasn't that busy when I dined here (about 9 tables of customers) but I imagine if it was busier it could feel quite crowded.
The tables are decorated quite simply with plain cutlery , white linen and a simple small vase on the table. But everything in the restaurant was clean and cutlery and glasses were smear free which I would expect from a restaurant of this standard.
The official line from the website on the menu is "Brasserie Black Door is focused firmly on a philosophy of using the freshest local produce available, creating dishes that are as fresh as they are tasty and imaginative. Executive chef David Kennedy uses all the experience of working at Black Door to create a menu capable of living up to the company's very high standards."
The menu changes regularly because of the use of local sourced products and availability. The starters menu yesterday to feature a lot of fish dishes, (fishcakes, squid and mackerel). There were about 4 different dishes for vegetarians out of the 10 starters.
Interestingly enough there was a Duck Scotch Egg. One of the party ordered this but did not end up getting this as we were told by the kitchen that "the scotch egg exploded and this was the last one" so we were not sure if this was a scotch egg made from a ducks egg, or an normal egg wrapped in duck meat! What we did kind of figure out that the duck scotch egg was all over the kitchen ceiling which gave us all a bit of a giggle!
From the al l carte menu some of the main dishes that had this "twist" was rabbit lasagne, cottage pie with a cauliflower gratin and pork scratchings.
The dessert menu had about 8 dishes all of which varied including chocolate truffle cake, baked cheese cake and chocolate mousse with figs in a red wine sauce.
The (express) lunch menu contains three choices per course at a very reasonable price. When I visited this was:
Wild Mushroom soup
Salt and Pepper Aquid with Dave's Ketchup
Risotto of wild mushrooms
Mackerel with quails egg and spinach
Beef burger, hand cut vegetables with pickles and aubergine
warm pear cake, salt-butter caramel
chocolate mousse, vanilla shortbread
I ordered off the set lunch menu, mainly because I just could not choose from the a la carte menu as there was so much choice. I had the mushroom soup and the burger. The mushroom soup was lovely, but nothing special which I was hoping for. It was very creamy and very rich and because it was such a large portion I just couldn't finish it.
The burger was gorgeous. Served on a wooden slab with the "handcut vegetables served in paper" presentation was fantastic but the burger did appear small on first glance. However the portion size was just right for lunch. The burger bun was a bit doughy which I left most of as it was so filling. The beef was cooked perfectly and on reflection it was a good job it was quite small (but thick) as otherwise I would have left lots.
For dessert I ordered off the a la carte menu and got the iced chocolate mousse with figs in a red wine sauce. Wow it was gorgeous but not a light dessert like I was expecting. It was very creamy and the iced mouse was a bit like thick ice cream. The mousse was presented like a square loaf cake shape on a piece of slate with three figs soaked in red wine with a drizzle of sauce over the plate. Very arty but actually very tasty.
There is a full wine list around 15 red wines , 15 white, 4 rose , and around 5 different champagnes which is rather decent. The restaurant also serves a wide variety of spirits and beers both bottled and on draught.
The prices in the restaurant are generally at quite a high price especially for general Newcastle standards. The a la carte menu ranged from £4.50 per starter to £9 (for mussels). The main meals started at £10 for a polenta dish and £18.95 for steak. I think this is reasonable especially as the meat is very good quality. The desserts do seem to be more expensive that other a chocolate truffle cake and orange sorbet was £7.50 and the dish was an extremely small portion.
However the lunch menu is fantastic value for money by any standards. Two courses for £10 or 3 courses for £12.45. This menu is limited to three dishes per course but there is still plenty of choice and allows you to sample the place and have three courses at the cost of one (cheaper meal from the a la carte menu!) I would definitely recommend this if I was paying out of my own bank account.
Although I didn't see the final bill, when back in the office we worked out that for 9 people including two rounds of drinks (both alcoholic and non alcoholic) that the bill would have been around the £450 mark. Not the most expensive fine dining place I have been in but again its not cheap!
There is also a 10% gratuity charge on top of the bill on all size parties.
Drinks wise a medium glass of house wine costs £3.50 a large glass £5.00 and a bottle £14.00 which I pretty reasonable for any restaurants. Bottles of wine go up to £36 per bottle. Drinks by restaurant standards are not at all excessive which can be found in some fine dining restaurants.
The service was very average and moderately efficient; however the staff were quite inexperienced and did not know the menu or the food served very well. In a lot of cases when asking about certain dishes on the menu they did not know or could not answer questions. I have worked in a food service role and this really essential as a waitress especially in a restaurant which prides itself on a fine dining experience.
The staff are attentive though and do make sure you have enough drinks, and take the dirty plates away promptly.
Only problem this was a lunch , and it took 2 hours, 15 minutes for the whole three courses (not including pre drinks before the meal).... So not somewhere to go if you are in a massive hurry. For a business lunch I would have usually panicked about being out of the office so long however having an exec director with me meant I had a good enough excuse.
It's a restaurant that I would visit again definitely, the menu is packed with lots of local produce and the dishes are traditional with a twist (i.e. rabbit lasagne!!) . For fussy eaters who do not like to try new things this is not the place for you as the menu may appear slightly off putting as there are no "safe classics". The prices are slightly higher than most restaurants in Newcastle but the dining experience was very pleasant, despite service just being average. Worth a try but maybe not during a peak time!
~~~Also posted on ciao 2011~~~
Back in 2007 The Times ran a promotion whereby readers could enjoy specially priced two or three course meals at participating restaurants. Seeing that one of the restaurants taking part in our area was Black Door we collected the required four tokens with excitement. Black Door is one of Newcastle's leading restaurants, well-known for the high standard of cuisine often using local ingredients and with its premium prices it was understandable that we should jump at the chance of eating three courses there for just £20 as an average main course alone comes in around the £20 mark.
As the instructions advised, we made our booking by telephone and the day before our visit the restaurant telephoned to re-confirm. We arrived at the restaurant and were invited to order an aperitif while we looked over the menu. We didn't actually open the menu until the drinks arrived and when we did, we found we had been given the standard menu so we told the staff member that we had booked for the promotional menu. He told us we had come to the wrong restaurant. He said we should be at the sister restaurant, the Brasserie, and that the company had informed the Times that they should change the information in the newspaper but they hadn't. When we pointed out that we had spoken directly to the restaurant when we made our reservation and that we had not, during the course of two telephone calls with staff, been advised that we should go to the Brasserie, he simply shrugged and offered to arrange a taxi to the Brasserie at the restaurants expense. Anxious not to spoil the evening any further we agreed.
When we arrived at the Brasserie the manager was expecting us, gave us glasses of fizz and invited us to have a seat in the bar while we looked at the menu. The information at the top of the menu said 'Three course special - £25". We questioned this of course; while it was not unreasonable it was more than the advertised promotion. The manager's rather rude response was the final straw for me and I decided we should leave and eat elsewhere.
A few days later the director of Black Door phoned to say he'd heard we'd been treated badly and that he wished to apologise and that he would be sending us some vouchers to spend at either of the restaurants at a time of our choice. We didn't have an opportunity to use them until last weekend, so was it worth waiting for?
We decided that it made more sense to take our £50 of vouchers to spend at the Brasserie as it is considerably cheaper there. We booked through Top Table (earning us 200 points) which we accessed through Pigsback (earning us the equivalent of 50 Pence in points).
Brasserie Black Door is situated in 'The Biscuit Factory', a contemporary art exhibition space housed in, not surprisingly, a former biscuit factory. Although the gallery was closed at the time of our visit, there are a number of artworks on display within the restaurant itself.
First impressions aren't good, even worse afterwards when you survey the exterior once more and wonder why somewhere so expensive doesn't care much about kerbside appeal. A modern facade has been added to a plain brick building and a concrete ramp leads up to the front door. Overgrown prickly bushes overhang the walkway.
Immediately inside the restaurant is a small seating area with leather sofas and very low tables and the bar. We were greeted immediately and were asked if we wanted to have a drink first or go straight to our table. As there appeared to be no sofas free we elected to go straight to our table. We were seated at the far side of the restaurant and we at first disappointed to find we were close to the toilets though this proved not to be an issue at all.
We were given the one sheet menu and were asked if we wanted to order drinks, presumably an aperitif; however because we thought that the first course would come quite quickly we decided to forego the aperitives and order our wine once we had chosen from the menu. The manager, who had shown us to our table, left us to decide but seconds later a young waiter came to ask if we wanted to order drinks, then another, and another. Perhaps they should divide the tables among the staff so that diners aren't continually pestered by staff who don't realise customers don't require pestering. Of course, having told all the staff what we were doing, it then took some time for anyone to come to take our order!
The menu offered a choice of nine starters and the same number of main courses. Dishes that jumped out from the starters included "North Shields Fish Soup" and "Potted Brown Shrimps, Lemon Confit and Sour Dough Croutons". Prices for starters ranged between a very reasonable £6.00 and £9.00. The mains were as varied with a selection of interesting meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, ranging from £13.00 to £20.00, and a rib of beef for two coming in at £44.00.
To start I chose "Dave Kennedy's black pudding, Sunny Hill farm free-range egg, spinach"(£8.00) while my partner chose "local crab, mayonnaise, cucumber juice and pea shoots" (£9.00) -pea shoots being this year's must have ingredient. For his main course he chose the "Mixed Grill of new season lamb, spring greens and fondant potato" (£17.50) and I opted for the "Pan-fried calves liver, champ, crispy bacon and onion rings" (£16.00).
Once our order had been taken we were brought a dish of delicious marinated olives and a basket of slightly crusty bread rolls. Our wine arrived at the same time - we had chosen a rich and spicy Don Cristobal Malbec from Argentina priced at £22.00. Prices start at £14.00 and go up to an eye-watering £75.00 which I thought was excessive for this type of restaurant, especially given that the most expensive champagne was priced at £60.00.
Eventually our starters arrived, some fifty-five minutes after we had arrived at the restaurant. It gave us more than enough time to survey the interior decor - a mixture of exposed brick walls and white plaster walls with massive brightly coloured abstract canvasses dotted here and there, not offensive but not exceptional either.
Both starters were served in massive white bowls; actually the circumference of the dishes was massive but the hollow where the food sat was rather small which had the effect of making the portion look quite stingy. The depth of the hollow combined with the small diameter meant if was really difficult to cut up one's food. The flavour and texture of my black pudding was excellent and the spices worked well with the creamy yolk of the perfectly poached egg. Unfortunately the miserly serving of spinach hidden under the black pudding was over wilted and resembled a tiny portion of vividly coloured snot. The sweet crab meat had been mixed with too much mayonnaise and too much red chilli. At the peak of the crab season I think that this was overkill, it shouldn't be necessary to do much to local crab because it really speaks for itself. It was shaped into a fishcake and sat in a pool of too much cucumber juice which was also flavoured with too much fresh chilli.
As is fashionable these days the mixed grill of lamb was served on a piece of finished wood, like a rustic chopping board. My partner, who is rather conservative in such matters, didn't appreciate this, not least because the meat juices trickled over the edge of the board when he cut the meat. There was a good selection of beautifully cooked cuts of lamb such as ribs, kidney and shoulder. The fondant potato came as a roughly two inch in diameter by half an inch high disc of smooth creamy potato - it looked especially small against the amount of meat.
My dish consisted of two generous pieces of succulently tender calves liver and a nicely presented portion of champ that looked small on the plate but proved to be exactly the right amount. It could, however, have benefitted from more seasoning.
After the plates were taken away we asked to see the dessert menu; although I really fancied a dessert nothing really appealed. There was Eton Mess - a good seasonal dish with the raspberries used in it but I am not a lover of fresh cream. There was "Chocolate tart with chocolate milkshake which sounded too sickly to me - I overheard the waitress tell another diner that the milkshake was a small portion in a shot glass. I was surprised that it was a duo of desserts rather than a trio which seems to be the in-thing in fine dining these days. I think the inclusion of a third dessert could have broken up the sweetness of all that chocolate. In the end I asked about the "Hot strawberry sandwich, ripple ice cream and balsamic syrup" (£7.50). The waiter returned from the kitchen to say that while it did usually come with nuts in it the chef said these could be omitted as the dish was constructed from scratch. Alas when the dish came there were nuts in it but fortunately I had tried the tiniest morsel when I realised this. Himself had fancied the "Doddington Dairy Cheeseboard, oatcakes, rhubarb chutney and walnut bread" but couldn't bring himself to pay the £9.00 price tag.
Overall I found Brasserie Black Door disappointing. While the staff were certainly friendly they weren't - with the exception if the staff member who appeared to be in charge - very professional and in this type of establishment I would expect staff to be more 'polished'.
While the menu offered an interesting choice of starters and main courses there were minor problems with several of our orders and the presentation was disappointing. I thought the selection of desserts was poor and it looked like the chef there isn't as interested in the desserts as the other courses because selection lacked the imagination and excitement of the other courses.
My final concern was the price. Over the last year we have eaten out in the UK less often than before, usually opting for cheaper restaurants when we have eaten out. This might be why we found the prices here quite high. Admittedly food costs have escalated recently but I still found one or two of the dishes slightly overpriced.
I don't expect to return to Brasserie Black Door soon. To justify these prices I would expect better service and fewer flaws in the execution of the dishes.
The Biscuit Factory
16 Stoddart Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel - 0191 260 5411
Much like sister venue Black Door, the menu at Brasserie Black Door is focused firmly on a philosophy of using the freshest local produce available, creating dishes that are as fresh as they are tasty and imaginative.