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Three fingers one thumb a pain in the bum.
The Waterside Palace (Newcastle)
Member Name: scallmorpheedy
The Waterside Palace (Newcastle)
Date: 09/03/02, updated on 09/03/02 (1709 review reads)
Advantages: No-one will know you, Five minutes from nice pubs , near the river, which you will want to jump in
Disadvantages: The food, The drink, The place
He actually does want to go there and worse still he wants you to go with him along with two of your other mates. It’s a complete nightmare. How do you tell him? You can’t very well just come out and ask, “Are you an imbecile?” It would end in a punch-up and he’s bigger than you. So you hope that the place itself will put him off, you hope that the view of it will be enough to shake him from his torpor.
Walking to the place you find yourself at the derelict end of Newcastle quayside, amidst structurally unsound warehouses, broken glass and socialist slogans from the seventies. You actually find the place quite fascinating. Its not very often you venture down here and each time you do the place reveals a new bit of interest. You get all nostalgic as the area lulls you into the world of Cookson that great harpy of inaccurate nostalgia.
Then the restaurant jack-in-the-boxes into view.
Like a great lumbering oaf of a cousin it slavvers and stumbles down the hill at the end of the quay. It is an appalling green and red MFI pagoda that looks as welcome and appropriate as a turd in canteen custard. You look at your mate and he smiles. “Isn’t it cool,” he says. Lord of the high heaven you think, can this be happening. Here you are about to enter this single most gaudy building in Newcastle and what’s more you are going to have to eat in it and then pay for the pleasure.
Inside it is clear that restraint is n
ot a word in the owner’s vocabulary. The place looks like the aftermath of an explosion in a bamboo processing plant that was playing host to a convention of fan manufacturers. Worse still, the walls are smeared with a chow mein of Polaroid’s recording the serving staff meeting local stars. These local stars are generally toon players, local TV weather girls and commercial radio DJ’s, and consequently they present a mosaic of tipped mullets, Nehru collars and fake tan.
So to the food, you might as well eat now you’re here. The first obstacle to this is the serving staff. After ten minutes it is clear that a sniper has struck us down with an invisibility rifle. They waltz past the four of us umpteen times as if it was commonplace for people to meander into the place just for the view. They then spot us and ask us if we want to eat. “No” I want to tell them “We represent the inspectorate of obscene constructions and you my dear are nicked.” I try to say this but it comes out as “yes.”
We are seated and the menus are issued. Flat diluted lagers are ordered and served at room temperature and we make our choices.
The wine list is riddled with gee gaws; overpriced Moet ( the “I know how to treat a lady,” brigades fave) is the pinnacle of their ambition and the rest is just tat, it only just excels “My Mum’s best Liebfraumilch.” From the quagmire we go for a couple of bottles of generic Australian Semillon for a tenner each.
As for food the place if you hadn’t guessed is Chinese, they have all the standard stuff; sweet and sour whojammawhats and crispy this, that and the others in plum sauce and the like. To start we have chicken, crab and sweet corn soup served from an immense tureen. We picture distended innards ahead until the tureen is whisked away before the ladle gets a chance to sweat. The soup has never heard of seasoning and the
prawn crackers are unfamiliar with aquatic life. Together they concoct a blandness that gives relief to the senses distracting our focus from the appallingly “authentic” décor. For the mains we have a mixed banquet -the design brief of which was presumably to satiate Lilliputians- served on crockery that appears to have been designed by the Botulism Ceramics Company and was modelled on the living room of George and Mildred.
The fare is accurately described as various meats boiled in a mixture of pritt-stick, vinegar and sugar served sullenly on appalling crockery.
Alternatives to our choice are to be found on the a la carte menu. This looks good but experience kicks in and you know that each dish will be murdered and every ingredient ruined. You look at the list and suspect that given half the chance they would do a foie gras casserole. There is a range of fish dishes and specialised meat dishes but judging by the price and the range its all aimed at people who ask for “I divvent knaa what its called but I’ll have the most expensive thing ye dae and Debbie here’ll hev the same.”
This unfortunately sums the place up. It is tasteless and cheap in all but price and there is much better elsewhere. The trouble is, the people who come here are impressed by the fact that toon players go there and they will be chuffed if the host of the morning radio show is on the next table. The regular clientele love the décor, they love the “realistic” Chinese look and they love this place. As a result it is usually full and people look as if they are enjoying themselves. The place is rarely empty of an evening and there is a genuinely good atmosphere. But. . . it’s all an illusion it’s the idea that costly compliance with popularity indicates taste and choice. It's hard not to be patronising but they simply don't know how bad it is and worse than this there is better not a million miles awa
y. The difference is that this building is so eye catching -albeit in the same way a fish hook might- but it is a fact, people see it and remember it and that is why people go there. They say to themselves "ooooh that one on the hill let's try there." Of course that’s just me being poncy and jealous.
But truly there is nothing in this place to distinguish it from any other terrible Chinese restaurant in any other city other than its mundanity and its atmosphere, or rather paucity thereof. We all nod in agreement. Then just as we are coming to this conclusion the restaurant takes an even bigger nosedive ably abetted by the staff.
For some reason the staff single us out for particular attention. Four of them encircle us, training their eyes upon our every move. Fair enough, four Geordie blokes on the pop -recipe for trouble some might say. Yet this doesn’t stop it seeming strange and uncomfortable and then to make matters worse a battle commences.
Our wine has been chilled to the point of tongue bleach and it is tasteless. We decide to leave the bottles out of the cooler so they can warm through in the hope of lulling out some taste. We do this until the staff intervene; they want the bottles in the cooler so they put them back. I explain and take them out. They put them back in and I take them out. It carries on like this for minutes until we have to stand our ground. It almost ends in a fight, its insane. Eventually they concede but they turn up their staring rays to triad level. We begin to get nervous and look for lost fingers.
What is worse though is that other guests are looking our way and we can see lager louts and scum on their lips. I imagine the headlines “Thugs jailed following over-chilled Semillon demo.” Oh the embarrassment if the lads read that.
The evening has been a shambles from start to finish. There is nothing that can provide testament to the disappointment. My fr
iend is disconsolate; he has been well and truly shaken from his delusion. We get the bill and stump up seventy quid laughing at how for four it doesn’t seem too much but for what it was it seems scandalously overpriced. We get our coats on and flee, looking over our shoulders as we go. Once outside my friend apologises, we boot him around the head mercilessly and we meander off into the night for a kebab and a fight.