Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Wylam Brewery at the Palace of Arts, Newcastle Sunday roast review

Wylam Brewery at the Palace of Arts in Newcastle is the most beautiful pub I’ve ever been to.

It would be worth a visit even if they only served warm pints of Stella and microwave pizzas.

Fortunately, Wylam is one of Britain’s best brewers. They knock out a cracking range of beers from the super hoppy Jakehead IPA to the lemony Hickey the Rake pale ale.

And, their hearty Sunday roasts have gained a bit of a reputation too. On the sunny Sunday we visited it was a full house. Reservations are essential. 

Wylam Brewery is located in the middle of Newcastle’s Exhibition Park in the Palace of Arts. It’s the only building that remains from the North East Exhibition of 1929, a world fair that was held to encourage local industry.

When I was growing up the building used to be a fusty tank museum. Wylam have done a beautiful job at refurbishing the place - the exposed brickwork, large windows and wood-panelling are all uber-sophisticated. And, the central function room with its domed ceiling is an absolute stunner. Mrs G and I are thinking of renewing our vows just so we can have a big shindig there. 

Drinks orders were taken at the table with a big selection of Wylam brews on tap. Mrs G kicked off with Swipe Right, an easy drinking session pale, whilst I had a Le Saissoner, a saison fragranced with a huge hit of lemon balm and rosemary.

Before the main event of the roast dinner, there are a small selection of starters on offer including cured meats and smoked salmon with chopped egg. However, as Mrs G and I had eaten a fifteen course meal the night before we thought it would be sensible to go straight onto mains.

My pork belly (£12) was a beaut. Tender of flesh, with well-rendered fat and the crispest of crackling, it was accompanied by a behemothic Yorkshire pudding, buttered cabbage and sweet carrot and turnip puree. Roast potatoes and parsnip were soft but could have been a touch crisper. 

Mrs G’s leg of lamb (£12) was also lovely. Tender and well-flavoured the only drawback was Mrs G wanted three slices instead of two.

It’s also worth mentioning the extra jug of seriously meaty, glossy gravy that was brought to the table without prompting. By the end of the meal Mrs G and I were spooning it into our mouths.

Desserts were also lovely. We paired them with a couple of sweet, fruity and hoppy imperial IPAs and double IPAs. For Mrs G a Blow Out IIPA and for me a Sticky Bud DIPA. 

A classic apple crumble (£5) with custard was inhaled by my father. Gluttony definitely runs in the family.

Mrs G and I shared a sticky toffee pudding sundae (£5). The soft, sweet sponge, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, custard and toffee sauce were all lovely. 

My brother and his wife shared the cheeseboard (£6). A quartet of lovely British cheeses were joined by pink pickles, chutney and a decent selection of crackers. 

Go to Wylam Brewery. Drink beer. Eat a roast dinner. You won’t be disappointed.

The Details:

Address - Wylam Brewery, Palace of Arts, Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PZ
Telephone - 0191 650 0651

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Humble Onion, Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan restaurant review

What’s in a name?

Well not a lot really. You can get a vague impression of a restaurant from its name, from the insufferable Scoff and Banter to the classy Noble Rot. But places with shocking names can be brilliant and those that sound great can be a crushing disappointment.

The Humble Onion in Dinas Powys has a great name. It’s understated and gives the impression that its owners appreciate the most basic ingredients can be the most flavoursome. But, does the restaurant live up to its billing?

Run by a former chef from Pontcanna’s acclaimed Bully’s, the restaurant is hidden away behind The Star pub. If we didn’t know where we were going in advance then we’d have been looking for it for ages.

The Humble Onion’s concise menu reads well with its classic bistro dishes, some using understated ingredients like smoked mackerel and pig’s cheek.

Soft sourdough with treacly balsamic reduction and rapeseed oil (£4) was good but looked a bit ridiculous with its giant bowl for the oil and vinegar. 

The humble soup (£6.50) was a must order as the restaurant’s namesake dish. A stonkingly good onion soup was thick, meaty, sweet, savoury and packed with tender onion. A slice of melted comte was delicious but a bit awkward to eat as it slipped off in one go. 

Goat curd salad (£7.50) was a simple but tasty plate combining tangy and creamy curd, dressed leaves, crunchy walnuts, sweet sunblushed tomatoes and a runny boiled egg. 

A fillet steak (£27) was an absolute belter of a dish. The super tender, well-flavoured piece of beef was joined by an addictive Gentleman’s relish (i.e. a turbo-charged spiced anchovy butter), soft carrots and spinach, carrot puree and caramelised onions. 

Accompanying chips were as good as I’ve had in a very long time. Hyper crisp and fluffy there must have been some triple cooking involved.

My main was very good too. A burnished pork chop (£17.50) sat atop buttery potato puree was accompanied by sweet and delicately sour pickled red cabbage, a punchy green herb sauce and spring onions. 

For dessert, a passion fruit coulis elevated a lovely Eton mess (£6.50) made with crisp meringue and fluffy cream. 

A beautifully wobbly panna cotta (£7) was indulgently creamy and delicately fragranced with lemon. Accompanying lemon curd, raspberries and blackberry puree were bang on but a scattering of granola could have been a touch crisper. 

I really like the Humble Onion. The hearty food cooked with skill and the friendly service were both lovely. This is another good addition to the Vale’s dining scene.

The Details:

Address - The Humble Onion, Station Rd, Dinas Powys CF64 4DE
Telephone - 02920 514 900