I LOVE it when I stumble across a gem of a restaurant.

My latest Eating Out review was inspired by a mistaken visit to The Engine Room, in Gateshead.

Expecting to see my schoolfriends and their better halves for the annual Christmas meet-up; Ali and I arrived 30 minutes early.

It was only when no one else arrived that I realised I’d read the address wrong and we were meant to be at The Engine Room in Sunderland.

After a frantic dash we made up the time, but after enjoying a very lovely glass of rose and aching for the menu I never got to taste, we decided to go back.

And what better opportunity than a review after a bit of sales shopping at the nearby Metro Centre.

The atmosphere in this cosy gastro-pub still had that Christmas cheery feeling and the warmth hit you as soon as you stepped inside.

A kind waitress showed us to our reserved table at the back of the pub which was bustling with groups already enjoying their meals.

Even though we are now into January and I really should be dieting; it’s safe to say it was the last thing on my mind when I got to peruse this menu, especially as I caught a whiff of all the different dishes coming out of the kitchen.

Another glass of the Zinfandel was ordered to help with the difficult task of choosing what to have but after some deliberation I decided I would order the Northumberland ham with pease pudding and toasted sour dough (£4.95).

Ali settled on the pan-fried pigeon breast with blueberries and watercress (£5.65). He asked for the mushrooms to be omitted as he dislikes them so much.

When both dishes arrived, I was impressed by how well they were presented; especially Ali’s which was swimming in a delicate but rich sauce.

Lying on top of a swirl of balsamic vinegar; my ham was mouth-wateringly good and the smoothness of the pease pudding in this classic northern dish complimented it perfectly. The bread on the side was also really fresh and soft and mopped up the balsamic perfectly.

Never having tried pigeon before; I was surprised at how succulent the meat was and the blueberry sauce gave a sweet hit to the dish that I will definitely be trying at home.

Mains again were difficult to chose as there were so many I wanted to try but in the end I chose the classic beer battered haddock with hand cut chips, tartar sauce and mushy peas (£8.95).

Ali chose a special of chicken with batter black pudding (£11.95).

My nana always used to say you could judge a good meal by the level of silence around the table and I have to agree with her based on this meal.

The battered black pudding was a hit with Ali although he did say the chicken could have had a bit more seasoning. His seasonal vegetables were cooked to perfection though with a good selection.

My fish was beautifully light and fluffy and perched on a bed of crispy homemade chips.

For me the fish and chips were perfectly cooked and I enjoyed it just as much as Ali enjoyed his dish with the only complaint being that I was unable to finish it.

There was a good amount of mushy peas and tartar sauce but it would have been easier if the tartar sauce was served in a separate dish as it was almost smeared on the plate which did not look particularly appetising.

By the time the dishes were taken away we were both so satisfied we could hardly talk.

It didn’t stop me looking at the dessert menu though being the greedy guts I am and the only reason I ordered was because my all-time favourite was on there: chocolate fudge cake (£3.95).

I was impressed that they actually asked if I wanted it hot or cold especially considering my last review when it was advertised as the opposite of what was served.

And when it arrived it didn’t disappoint with a good wedge of soft gooey cake accompanied by two scoops of velvety vanilla ice cream.

They also gave us two spoons – lovely idea but clearly they don’t know me well enough to know it was not ordered with sharing in mind.

In that moment I was so happy I’d left a few of those crispy chips to preserve my dessert space and I wasn’t completely mean as I allowed Ali to have some too.

I would have taken a picture but by the time the thought crossed my mind all that was left was the plate and two spoons.

All-in-all I have to say I was really impressed by the food, atmosphere and service at this venue and dare say I will be returning with the whole family.

The Engine Room

TYPE: Gastro pub

Where: 3 Rockcliffe Way, Gateshead NE9 7XR

Contact: 0191-4876135

Open: Monday to Saturday: 11am until 11.30pm and Sunday 11.45am until 11pm.

Food offer: Pub grub.



VALUE: 8/10