“AMAZING, but very expensive,” is the comment I have heard most regularly from people who have been to House of Tides, Newcastle’s only Michelin-starred restaurant.

The 16th Century former merchant’s town house on the Quayside sits beneath the High Level Bridge, next to what used to be The Cooperage nightclub.

Five years ago it was derelict, but the building has been lovingly restored and renovated and is now one of Tyneside’s must visit venues for foodies with deep pockets.

House of Tides was established in February 2014 by Kenny Atkinson, formerly of Seaham Hall Hotel and Rockliffe Hall, both in County Durham, and has won admirers around the country.

It advertises itself as ‘informal fine dining’ and our visit confirmed this.

There was no snooty waiters, or Vivaldi playing in the background, just a hubbub of good natured chit-chat and the occasional guffaw of laughter from a larger group at the back of the dining room.

The walls are painted a simple, but effective, magnolia, setting off the traditional treated oak beams, while modern paintings of the River Tyne, and the bridges that span it, adorn the walls.

A word of warning though.

I was put off by the hefty prices on the website, £95 for eight courses and £70 for six, but had Googled ‘House of Tides lunch menu’ and found a menu showing six courses for £45, as well as another offering two courses for £25 and three courses for £30.

Sounded good, a perfectly affordable way to try a little bit of fine dining.

It turned out these were out of date and the only food available was from the tasting menu for the hilariously obscene prices mentioned above.

I don’t want to sound like a skinflint, but I’ll be honest, had I known that I do not think we would have bothered.

We were told by the manager if we did not order anything we would be charged a £130 ‘no show’ fee to the credit card I used to secure the booking, so they had us over a barrel.

It stuck in the craw a bit, but we decided to go for the £70 ‘tasting’ menu.

First up was the snacks, a delicate savoury with a meringue texture, loaded with a pungent aniseed flavour from fennel as well as a tiny creamy tart that tasted of smoked bacon.

Not being keen on fish, I swapped the wild sea trout, which came with pea, mint and radish, for a vegetarian cauliflower dish.

It was a very small amount of cauliflower done several different ways, including a crisp.

It tasted great, but as I had been looking forward to this meal I not eaten much beforehand. I did not so much eat it as inhale it.

The warm thick cut soda bread with cultured butter was a welcome relief to fill a hole.

Served next was veal sweetbread, which came from the calf’s thyroid gland and was served with apricot, black garlic and Swiss chard, which was wilted and laid across seductively.

Incredible dish, but again, tiny.

As was the Cumbrian lamb, which was, according to my mother, a butcher’s wife, a little bit sinewy, and for me too fatty. It was served with scorched Gem lettuce, not something I usually have in my fridge, let alone put on a dinner plate with gravy.

It somehow worked though, as did the artichoke.

Dessert too was small, but perfectly formed

The raspberry dulche de leche, a creamy little devil, was exquisite, and flavoured with rosewater and brown butter.

Then came the delightfully thick banana parfait with coconut sorbet on a strongly-flavoured sesame seed tuile.

Each dish was a joy to eat, there is no denying that, and the service, was flawless, our waitress was charm personified, so it is easy to see why House of Tides has its Michelin star as well as four AA rosettes.

This is a clearly place to enjoy a culinary experience unlike any other, and not just have a meal, but, for me, there is an element of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

There are plenty of restaurants in the area offering food that will leave you more satisfied without an eye-watering bill.

Here, wine pairing for the £95 tasting menu costs an extra £65 per person.

In foodbank Britain, I fail to see how a lunch for two that costs more than a monthly shop for a family can possibly be justified.


Address: House of Tides 28-30 The Close, Newcastle, NE1 3RF

Tel: 0191 230 3720

Website: info@houseoftides.co.uk www.houseoftides.co.uk

Hours: Sun/Mon closed; Tues-Thurs 6-8.30pm; Fri Friday 12–2pm, 6–8.30pm; Sat 12–2pm, 5–9pm

Food: 10

Service: 10

Surroundings: 8

Value: 6