“ Percy Street, Haymarket. Tel: 0191 230 3344. „
Old Orleans Bar/resturant is very conveniently located in the centre of Newcastle, right by the Haymarket Metro station and bus concourse.
It is quite spacious, with a long bar downstairs along with plenty of seating area and also standing room. The resturant is upstairs.
It does sometimes get busy, but never too busy - and you will not have to wait too long to get served at the bar.
As the name suggests, it has a jazz theme with the music being mostly easy listening/piano/jazz. The music is not too loud and it has a pleasant relaxing atmosphere, so Old Orleans can be a nice place to meet friends for a drink and a chat.
The cocktails here are delicous but can be pricey at around £7, whereas spirits and lagers etc are available at average prices - not cheap but not expensive.
I have not been impressed with the food here. The menu offers a range of burgers, wraps, steaks, salads etc, which aren't very impressive. Last time I ordered a chicken wrap with salad, and was presented with a very plain, bland wrap and soggy salad - not very good at all.
I would recomend the bar for a quiet drink in a clean, well presented pub, however i would certainly not recomend trying the food there.
The bar is situated in the centre of Newcastle in the Haymarket area and is right next the Haymarket bus station. As a result it's a good place for meeting and starting off a night. Its not a lively type bar however most of the bars in the Haymarket area have a more "pub" feel like this one. There are areas to sit and talk. There is music playing however its not the type of place for dancing etc.
The price of drinks are reasonable and there are often drinks offers on. Two bottles of beer/ Alco pops for £5 or cocktails for £3 at happy hour which runs until 7pm or 8pm (depending on what night you go in!!) However outside of happy hour the prices are probably lower than other bars in the City Centre
I have been here twice for food and has never been impressed and wouldn't recommend. For a burger type meal you will pay around £8 so its not really expensive but not as cheap as some other pubs in the area. Both times I have been the food was extremely greasy and was cold. The main negative about the food is how long you wait for your food to arrive. Both times I dined here the restaurant was not busy and both times it took over an hour from ordering the food with the waitress to the food arriving on the table. While you are waiting the waitress will bring you some salted popcorn free. Its horrible don't eat it, its soggy and EXTREMELY salty!!
When it comes to food I am a terrible snob but when it comes to money theres not a great deal I wont do (guess what happened to granny!). It was only because I was getting a free meal (mystery shopping of course) that I agreed to go to Old Orleans in Newcastle upon Tyne. There were two reasons for my reluctance. First, I dont really do chain restaurants unless they are at the higher end of the market (Livebait, Chez Gerard) and even then with a certain degree of reluctance. The other reason is that the Newcastle branch is not a place I find particularly compelling. As usual, I should have trusted my instincts
Old Orleans is a national chain of bar/restaurants with a pseudo southern states of America theme. Usually they have clearly defined bar and restaurant areas. In the Newcastle branch its quite simple bar downstairs, restaurant upstairs. On the few occasions I have been there the bar has been teeming, the restaurant virtually empty. My theory? People are put off at having to go into the horrible bar to get upstairs. There is a menu displayed outside but its now quite faded and hard to read. On the day I had to go there I popped in at lunchtime to check whether it was necessary to reserve a table for the evening and saw two old ladies wearing the obligatory fleece and scowl glaring out of the window. I was becoming more reluctant by the minute .
Old Orleans in Newcastle is situated at the Metro Station end of the Haymarket Bus Station. It is a modern brown brick building and, frankly, its not attractive. The upper floor was wrought iron pretend balconies at the windows (in an attempt to evoke the New Orleans style). I can not think of a single train or bus station pub that is acceptable (I am sure many will come up with suggestions) and I can not really think why anyone would want to drink in a pub in a bus station anyway certainly not on a Saturday night. In my opinion, bus station pubs are second only to pubs next to the offices where the Benefits Agency make emergency payments.
Arriving around 8.30 we found things at full swing in the bar. When we went upstairs, however, the place was dead with only a couple of tables taken. A surly waiter trudged over and we asked for a table in the no smoking section. We were informed that the whole restaurant is no smoking and were shown to a table right in the path to a slightly raised section of tables and next to two other couples. We sat down and then decided to pick our own table once the waiter had gone.
Within seconds another waiter appeared to ask if we wanted drinks but we said preferred to look at the menu before deciding on drinks. How I wish we hadnt done this the drinks didnt arrive until we were almost finished our starters! The menu looks quite extensive but isnt really just clever work to make a small number of dishes with several variations each look that way. At this point it would have been nice if the waiter had lit the tealight on our table since the lights were o dim you had to strain your eyes to read the menu.
Once we had ordered we sat back for our first proper chance to survey our surroundings. Old Orleans is designed to look like a traditional music hall/bar in the American south. To this end there are, hanging from the ceiling various items of reproduction tat from the Deep South (read Exeter) spares from a paddle steamer, jazz instruments and other sundry junk without wishing to be offensive, it looks like the flotsam when the levees broke .
In spite of the fact that the place was almost empty and there were hardly any customers, we waited and waited for our drinks. Hoping to catch someones eye but the staff all appeared to find the wooden floor fascinating. Perhaps we would not have been so thirsty had we not wolfed down the complimentary thimble of popcorn.
To be fair the starters arrived quite promptly alas the margaritas took another eight minutes or so. I opted for the Black and Blue Mushrooms sautéed mushrooms in a blue cheese and black pepper sauce. It was slopped all over the plate and the little wedge of bread that came with it was plonked indelicately on the top. I liked the idea but the execution was terrible all black and barely any blue. My partner had chosen the sautéed prawns with a barbecue dressing. Not only were the prawns only just cooked but they were rather small hardly meriting the price tag of a Pound per prawn for this dish (£3.95). The final failing of the dish was that the pathetic sprinkling of salad leaves as a garnish was not dressed. Why is this usually the case in Britain? It is so easy to dress leaves! The margaritas sadly kept up this theme. Ninety per cent ice (this is a glaring error as a margarita should be shaken with ice but then strained and this one had not been shaken I know I saw the waiter make it) way too much lime and I can only think that maybe it had once been NEAR tequila since there appeared to be little evidence of it containing any. Old Orleans take note if you have gone to the bother of salting the rim of the glass why would you then serve the drink with straws the whole point is that you drink from the rim to get the taste of the salt!
We hoped we would fare better with the mains which arrived only a couple of minutes after the starters had been cleared away. I ordered the shrimp jambalaya a traditional southern dish but served in a rather different way; it came in a shallow skillet and in one half was the rice and next to it the rich spicy stew of onions, celery, pepper and okra. The prawns were on skewers and laid over the top of the skillet. I could see immediately even though the lights were low that the prawns were not sufficiently cooked. It was not a matter of personal taste they were virtually raw and prawns can present a major risk if not properly cooked. I called the waiter over and explained that I would like them to be cooked longer. Instead of taking them back to kitchen he just stared at me blankly. After the second request he reluctantly took them away, bringing them back a minute later swearing they had been cooked more. And of course, they hadnt not only was it obvious visually but I could tell from the waiters behaviour that they hadnt been cooked again. When I pointed this out he said that the chef had said to say that this was how he was told he had to present the prawns and that this was company policy. I instructed him to return to the kitchen and inform the chef that not only did the prawns pose a high risk of food poisoning but the CUSTOMER was requesting them to be cooked more. When the prawns came back they were acceptably cooked although the rest of the dish was pretty cold by then.
After all the problems I do have to say that the dish was delicious but not worth the £10.95 price tag.
My partners blackened salmon came with green beans cooked on the griddle which gave them quite a good charred flavour, and a few fries. The salmon was good, nicely spiced but the portion was mean for £12.95.
When the plates were cleared I asked to see the dessert menu; when the waiter returned I ordered the lemon possett and the other half opted for a pint of lager (hes never really been a puddings type of guy). After ten minutes neither had arrived and when he really had to (when I made it impossible for him to ignore us any longer) the waiter came and said they had just sold the last one. I chose another dessert and within five minutes he returned to say they did not have that one either. A third choice was requested along with a reminder about the lager. And five minutes later the waiter came to say that there were no desserts due to a flood in the kitchen earlier in the week (?!). He did not say whether this had also suddenly rendered lager unavailable when it had been available earlier that evening. The waiter took one look at me and suggested he fetch the manager (I cant imagine what my expression must have been like). After some quite heated discussion the manager gave us the margaritas free of charge and took 20 per cent off the final total. His opening offer had been that he would not charge is for the dessert and the lager and he could not see that this was no compensation at all since we had been served with neither!
Looking back it really seems like most of the problems were down to poor customer service as the food, when it was cooked properly was, in the main, quite tasty (though the portions were small). With childrens meals and a choice ranging from snacks and sandwiches through salads, fajitas and a variety of bigger main dishes. Vegetarians will have few problems finding choices. After customer service, my other main gripe was the portion sizes which were for both starters and mains far too small and with all the ice in the margaritas there was barely any room for the other ingredients.
Would I go back?
Do I really have to answer that? Not even for free!
Old Orleans is a chain restaurant, with it's menu content being loosely based on Cajun/ Tex-Mex food. The Newcastle branch is very well located for the city centre, and close to the Haymarket bus station. We arrived about 12.30 on Saturday lunchtime and were seated straight away, although I noticed that there was a wait for tables later on. The entrance is straight into the pub area, and the restaurant is upstairs, although set around the large staircase, making the place seems very bright and welcoming. The restaurant walls are decorated in posters, banjos and other artefacts from the 'deep south'. This seemed a little 'twee' but not too over the top (other than the large alligator statue on entering the restaurant). Anyway, on to the food. The menu is huge - both in actual size and the amount of items available! Basically it was your standard American type fare with a slight twist on some dishes (and I mustn't forget to mention that alligator was on the menu, although no one in our party tried it!) My partner opted for a salmon dish, served with herby mashed potatoes and barbecued vegetables (sorry I can't remember it's exact name). The portion wasn't huge, but everything was well cooked and the broccoli in a barbecue sauce, was surprisingly, very tasty. I opted for a Cobb salad, as I proclaimed not to be very hungry. Big mistake, as this was a huge portion, very well presented, and unfortunately I didn't do it justice. The children's menu had a much greater choice than many restaurants. All meals were £4.25 but this included a drink and ice cream. My daughter was thrilled with her choice -which went by the fabulous name of a Ya Ya Platter! This was a combination of many of the other kids menu items (chicken strips, potato wedges etc), which I thought was an excellent idea. We did not sample the vast dessert menu, but the kids were impressed with their ice cream, and the cappuccino wa
s one of the best I'd tasted in some time. The bill for 2 adults and 2 children including drinks was just over £25, which wasn't too bad. If you plan to eat here (or any of their other branches) on a regular basis, you can apply for an Old Orleans Club Card which gives 10% discount of the total restaurant bill. Overall, the place was clean, food decent although the service a little slow. I'm sure we'll be back sometime, even if it?s just so that my daughter can have the thrill of ordering another Ya Ya Platter!