Thankfully, the Bridge Tavern in Newcastle has gone a long way to restoring the honour of things dwelling beneath river crossings.
Nestled beneath the supporting structure of the Tyne Bridge, on first impression The Bridge Tavern appears like any other packed Quayside boozer.
However, if you only popped in for a few pints of one of their microbrews you’d be missing out on their ridiculously delicious and good value comfort food.
Unusually, with food so awesome, The Bridge Tavern stop serving food at 7pm between Friday and Sunday. We placed our order at the bar just in the nick of time and quaffed pints of Wylam Brewery’s Keep Taking the Pilsener whilst we waited for our food to arrive.
Preternaturally light and crisp spiced crackling strands (£3) were up there with the very best.
Golden pigs head croquettes (£3) were joined by a good dollop of gherkin and caper laced tartare sauce.
A groaning portion of plump mussels were bathed in a light broth of shellfish liquor and ale. They were excellent value too at £6.50.
My dad raved about his plate of spiced chicken livers on toast (£5.95). Tender, deeply-flavoured and without a hint of bitterness, I’m sure far more people would be offal converts if they were always cooked this well.
My starter (£6.50) was also a beauty. Top-drawer toasted sourdough, flakes of sweet white crabmeat, a comforting curried mayonnaise, shreds of cleansing fennel and fragrant fennel leaves were a superb combination.
Finally my mother and Mrs G loved their salad of golden and crisp Jerusalem artichokes (£5.95), sweet softened onions, toasted walnuts and salty blue cheese topped with a handful of watercress.
Onto the mains, and slices of venison (served well done at my mother’s request) were tender, smokey and gamey (£12.95) - they sat atop a meaty butterbean broth fragranced with wild garlic and flecked with spinach.
The chips at the Bridge Tavern are a work of staggering genius. Triple-cooked, hyper-golden, super-crisp and mega fluffy they were enjoyably not too thick.
For my brother they were accompanied by a wonderfully flaky battered haddock fillet (£9.95), some more of the excellent tartare sauce and proper mushy peas made with marrowfats (whoop whoop).
My dad ordered the flat iron steak - this was a cracking piece of meat and cooked to perfection. A knob of smoked bone marrow butter dialled up the luxury a notch and at £12.50 including the chips it’s hard to think of a better value steak going.
Mrs G enjoyed her veggie option, a beetroot, hazelnut and quinoa burger (£8.95) served in a soft brioche bun. But she had serious food envy of all the other dishes around the table.
My main was also a bobby-dazzler. A thin, golden pie crust (£8.95) cocooned yielding pieces of slow cooked beef and a rich gravy studded with carrot pieces and thickened with pearl barley. Smooth and buttery mashed potato and buttered savoy cabbage were the ideal companions.
For dessert we all dived into a stonkingly good sundae (£4.95) which harmoniously combined whipped cream, smooth pistachio ice cream, boozy brandy soaked cherries and wonderfully gooey chocolate brownie.
We left stuffed and the bill including 5 pints, snacks, 2 courses for 5 people and a dessert came to £116. A bargain as far as I’m concerned. If you’re looking for a casual eatery in Newcastle then check out the Bridge tavern.
Address - The Bridge Tavern, 7 Akenside Hill, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3UF
Web - http://thebridgetavern.com/
Telephone - 0191 261 9966