Madame Gourmand
02. 04. 2013

Zio bar is attached to Fratello’s restaurant on Jesmond Road, Jesmond, and is easily accessible from Osborne Road by walking, or Bus and Metro Links.  Regular readers may recall my original Zio Bar post which was written back in April when I first visited, we were so impressed with this visit that we decided to pop back for more food and less alcohol!

At the time of our visit Zio bar were still offering £3 cocktails and we both decided it was too good an offer to pass on.

I decided to go for a Classic Mojito which consists of Havana Club Especial rum, churned with fresh lime, mint and crushed ice topped with soda water

Mr Gourmand had the Stormy Mojito which consisted of Gosling Black rum and ginger beer.

Both drinks were very refreshing and a complete bargain at £3 each!

I ordered the Chicken Burger which was moist and succulent, it was a whole butterflied chicken breast so was very filling.  The burger was served with hand cut chips and salsa.  I did find the chips a little dry which I think was possibly down to them being twice or maybe even thrice cooked.

Mr Gourmand ordered the Bacon Burger which was served with handcut chips and tomato salsa, the burger itself was delicious and was polished off in record time.

If you want a night out in Jesmond and would rather avoid Osborne Road or are looking for a quiet drink before heading into the city centre I highly recommend Zio Bar.

01. 06. 2012

Back in April I was kindly invited to the Newcastle Malmaison to attend a Spring Event, the event was a thank you to business customers who use the hotel on a regular basis, it’s a great way for the hotel to make customers aware of what they can offer and give other business in the area a chance to show their wares so to speak.

I did write a post on my Lifestyle Blog but wanted to save the food and drink for a separate post as I feel it deserves at least that.

The Malmaison do everything to a high standard especially their cocktails which are spectacular, I’ve had many different cocktails now in the Newcastle Mal and each one has been delicious.

The bar staff at Newcastle Mal were kind enough to make my friend Katie a non alcoholic cocktail which looked and tasted just as delicious as the alcoholic cocktails.

The seating areas at the Newcastle Mal are designed in such a way that makes them perfect for both a secluded private chat or a large group gathering.  The seats are all extremely comfortable and the views over the River Tyne are beautiful.

As far as Buffets go the Newcastle Mal did an excellent job at keeping the guests happy, choices ranged from mini cheeseburgers to finger sandwiches (crusts removed)

There was a wide range of desserts on offer, unfortunately I got swayed by the make up and only managed to take one picture.  The brownies and flapjacks pictured were to die for!

As always the wine was flowing and I imagine there was some very sore heads the next morning (Not mine may I add)

15. 04. 2012

Las Iguanas is situated on 62-74 Grey Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, a short walk from Monument Metro Station

Neither Chelsea or Myself had visited Las Iguanas but we had both heard good things about the place and were eager to try it out for ourselves, we arrived just as lunchtime service was starting and were informed that as we hadn’t booked we could only have the table for 45mins as the restaurant was fully booked.

I drank a Raspberry Cooler (£2.90) Which was a little bland and tasted mainly of soda water

Chelsea had a Virgin Pina Colada (£2.90) which she didn’t like the taste of so we swapped drinks as I found the pina colada quite refreshing.

Chelsea ordered the Chilli (£6.90) which was Chunky beef steak, minced beef & black beans braised in spiced tomatoes, with garlicky rice, warmed soft wheat tortillas, soured cream& corn tortilla chips.  This was a rather large portion and unfortunately the rice tasted microwaved rather than fresh.  There was a layer of oil on the chilli which was not very appetising but the spice was just right and the flour tortillas made a lovely accompaniment.

I ordered the Beef Cuban Sandwich (£6.90) which was a toasted ciabatta, sliced cheese, gherkin & aioli, stuffed with shredded beef &
caramelised onion served With fries and coleslaw.  After trying the fries I wished I had ordered salad as they tasted like cardboard.  My beef was tasty and had quite a kick to it which was lovely.

The Restaurant serves food from:

Mon-Thu 12.00 – 11.00pm
Fri-Sat 12.00- 11:30pm
Sun 12.00 – 10:30pm

09. 04. 2012

From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the leafy suburbs of Jesmond – meet Uncle Zio.

As Zio bar is a short walk from our house, Mr Gourmand and I decided to visit during a sunny Friday afternoon.  We had already eaten a fairly large lunch but decided to try out one of the snacks on offer to go with our cocktails.

The Nachos came with what tasted like a home made guacamole, salsa and sour cream dip.  The jalapeños were spiced just right and the dish really complemented our iced drinks.

I started off with a Watermelon Cooler £5.50

Melon liqueur mixed with Barcadi rum, Orange and Cranberry juice and a dash of lime.  This cocktail tasted delicious, not too sweet just perfect for a sunny day.

My second choice was the Elderflower Crush £6.25

A mixture of Gran Marnier and Elderflower Liqueur balanced with lime, soda and crushed ice.  A beautiful drink, my favourite yet!

The Basil Grande £6.25 was Mr Gourmands choice,  he’s man enough to drink out of a martini glass without looking girly which is a good job because this cocktail could not have screamed woman anymore!  The red colour was due to the Chambord black raspberry liqueur combined with Grand marnier and vodka finished off with a basil leaf and a good grind of black pepper.

The Ginger Jack £5.95 was our final cocktail.

Jack Daniels with a touch of honey and apple juice finished off with some fiery ginger.  A warming yet sweet tasting drink which would be delicious to drink while sitting in front of a log fire!

The good news is that selected cocktails are currently £3 and food is all 1/2 price but you need to get there fast as this is a limited offer!

You can find Zio Bar on Jesmond Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1PR

Open from Noon until 2am

01. 04. 2012

Barluga is situated on 35 Grey Street, Newcastle, a short walk from Monument metro station.

Barluga is a very stylish Gastro bar / restaurant, an ideal place to go for lunch with friends or for a cosy cocktail with your loved one.  You won’t get groups of stag and hen parties in fancy dress here so it’s an ideal place to go on a weekend to relax.

I visited Barluga with my friend Chelsea as we wanted a catch up in elegant surroundings and couldn’t think of a better place to do this but Barluga.

We started the afternoon off with a Secret Garden Cocktail each (£5.95) which was a combination of bombay sapphire gin, st.germain elderflower liqueur,
sloe gin, with apple juice and a dash of soda.  I adore this cocktail as it’s fruity but not too sweet.

Chelsea had the Thai green Chicken breast curry with coriander and lime rice (£9.95)

The Chicken tasted fresh and tender, there was a good selection of vegetables which retained some bite and the rice tasted steamed not microwaved.

I had the Confit Duck with crushed heritage potatoes, braised spiced red cabbage and red wine jus (£12.95)

The duck was perfectly cooked and fell away from the bone with ease.  The potatoes had been cooked with their skins on and tasted delicious.  The cabbage and red wine jus really complimented the meal which was a rather large meal for lunch time.

We both finished off with a Bellini (8.95) an italian favourite made with peach liqueur and purée, topped with prosecco.

Food is served until  10pm on a Sunday,  10.30pm Mon – Thurs, 9.00pm Fri – Sat

20. 03. 2012

I recently visited Chiquito in Durham with fellow blogger Katie from Lady From A Tramp  we originally tried to get a table in Funky Bhudda but were told they were not serving food so we tool refuge next door in Chiquito.

We started off by looking at the vast cocktail menu and both decided on the non-alcoholic variety!

Katie chose the Cranberry Cooler (£2.99)  which was a mixture of cranberry & apple juice with sweet & sour blended with crushed ice.

I went for the Apple Flower (2.99) which was a mixture of apple juice, elderflower cordial & sweet & sour, topped with soda.

I personally think £2.99 for a non alcoholic drink is a little bit pricy.

Nachos and salsa are always provided free of charge by Chiquito, it saves ordering a starter!

Katie’s main course was the Spicy Chicken Quesadilla with chips (£7.99)

I went for the Spicy Chicken Quesadilla with salad (£7.99)

We both agreed that the filling could have been hotter, mine was very cool and I’m sure it’s not supposed to be served like that!

I think places like Chiquito have good points and bad points, they are open from around 11am until closing so you know that you will always be able to get a meal during the day which suited us fine on this occasion, the bad point is chain restaurants are very overpriced for the food that you get, I would much rather visit an independent restaurant where the value for money is a little better and the food quality is of a higher standard.

20. 08. 2011

On Thursday evening I was lucky enough to be invited to a bloggers dinner evenrt at Newcastle’s malmaison hotel.

The Malmaison is a short 15 minute walk from Newcastle city centre and a stone throw from the River Tyne.  The hotel is situated in the grand former Co-op building which has stood the test of time with it’s beautifully maintained sandstone facade.
When you enter the hotel you are greeted with luxury from every angle, shades of black, grey and plum are everywhere, staff are beautiful and well presented and the scent of lilies fills the air.

Walking into the bar area you are transported into a different place and time, I imagine this is what people thought when entering first class areas on the Titanic.  It looks like a place that the rich and famous could be found sipping a cognac and smoking a Cuban cigar

We moved from the bar area to one of the Brasserie’s private dining areas and sat at a huge round table. The décor was luxurious, seats were comfortable, and place settings were perfect. 

First of all I must say the menu was huge and because it was ‘Thursday Steak Night’ a choice of 5 different steaks were also available.  There was a choice of 8 starters, 23 main courses and 8 deserts not including the cheese trolley to satisfy all but the pickiest of eaters. This much choice mathematically provides an incredible array of dishes for the diner to pick from and credibly reinforces the notion of a one restaurant fits all, although this particular one restaurant is probably only viable for special occasions which I will discuss later. Without dwelling for too long on what was available on the menu that I did not eat, I have attached the full offerings below, be impressed!
Before ordering we were greeted by the Sommelier, Danny, who talked us through four recommended wines for the evening. There were two white wines which were a San Angelo, Pinot Grigio and a Friendly Gruner Veltliner, and also two red wines which were a Spy Valley Pinot Noir and a Katnook Founders Block Cabernet Sauvignon.  I chose the Spy Valley Pinot Noir and Katnook Founders Block Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was a nice touch that indicated a very professional and consumer orientated evening ahead. Shortly after this presentation we were served drinks while perusing the menu.  I had picked a cocktail based on a Blackberry Margarita which was very pleasant and focused me on the gargantuan menu I had in front of me.  
Because I was privileged enough to be in an establishment where the staff were greatly knowledgeable of their food, I started with the waiters recommendation of Fritto Misto (£8.00). This is a dish comprising of calamari, salmon and king prawns, all of which were deep fried in a light tempura batter with chilli and parsley. There was also a potted tarragon aioli which added a controllable creaminess to the proceedings.  The dish was beautifully served in a clam shell which in turn was balanced on a piece of pale green rock salt.  The whole dish looked and tasted like a masterpiece with the lightest of tempura batter guarding the stunningly cooked fish and seafood within. It looked so good that I initially hesitated before spoiling the visual delight plated before me; after the first mouthful that thought never returned.
As Thursday at the Malmaison is ‘Steak Night’ I figured it would be rude not to order steak. I would usually have gone for the T-bone but did not wish to be sat like Desperate Dan munching through a cow so opted for the Grand Reserve Fillet Steak (£32.95). I overheard the waiter describing the Peppercorn Sauce to the person next to me which sounded amazing, so being the gourmand I am I didn’t hesitate in choosing the same accompanying sauce.  When my plate arrived I was shocked at how large the piece of steak was! It cut like butter and melted in the mouth.  The fries were the best I’ve ever tasted with onion rings that were crispy without tasting heavy and like the steak also huge! My mushroom tasted amazing, I could have ate a whole plate of the mushrooms they were that good and the sauce, well it was to die for! “Waiter bring me a bucket of the sauce with a spoon.” Yes it was that good!
You’re probably reading this thinking, “she couldn’t possibly have followed this starter and main course combination with a dessert?” Well I did, and I also finished it! I chose the Raspberry & White Chocolate Parfait (£5.95) which was again recommended by the waiter. The presentation was like nothing I’d ever seen before and it tasted just as good as it sounds! The parfait was firm yet soft, tart yet sweet and was on my plate for all of ten seconds!
Readers of my blog know that I like value for money and I like to eat out for as little as possible.  I used to be a chef so if I can make a meal in the house with the best local ingredients cheaper than I can eat the meal in a restaurant, I’ll eat at home.  I’m not going to lie, the Malmaison menu is not cheap, I couldn’t afford to eat there on a weekly basis like I do at some other restaurants, however if I needed somewhere to go for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary then I would not hesitate to make my first choice the Malmaison – on the other hand If I went a month without buying beauty products I could quite happily treat my stomach rather than my face!
I could not fault this restaurant as I used to work as a restaurant auditor so I know what to look for when it comes to good service and good food and the Malmaison ticked all of the boxes. As I like to give an impartial review I do have to say that because five of my fellow diners worked for the brand, I would need to visit alone to be able to give a true opinion of the service.
Would I visit again? I would sell my soul for the Peppercorn Sauce therefore I must visit again in the near future!