Gavin Havery hits the heights of arts venue the Baltic, overlooking the River Tyne

NOT knowing whether to eat an attractively plated dish, or frame it, has become a clichéd comment, such is the lengths some chefs go to make their food as artistic as possible.

The first taste, so they say, is in the eye.

So you could be forgiven for thinking that a restaurant, at the top of what is arguably the best known gallery in the region, would also be offering culinary works of art to diners.

Six, at the Baltic, a former flour mill, which stands proudly on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne, near the Millennium Bridge, certainly offers majestic views of the Quayside.

But, while the food is of a very high standard, the chef does not go over-the-top in terms of presentation.

He even bucks the trend on the menu.

There is no ostentatious descriptions involving ‘jus’ and ‘foam’ here, instead a simple list of rarely used ingredients, printed in black ink, on white paper.

There isn’t a lot of choice either with four options from the small plates, four large plates, starters and mains to you and I.

So, despite viewing the menu online, Lis and I were not quite sure what to expect when we booked.

The ride to the sixth floor to get to the restaurant is worth the visit alone as the lift glides up to offer those wonderful views of the Newcastle skyline.

The high level dining area itself is very chic, spacious and salubrious, with subtle lighting and an incredible, much-lauded, ‘ambience’.

The glittering lights of the city as a backdrop, visible through plate glass windows, gives the feeling you could be anywhere in the world.

This can’t be Gateshead, my little old hometown, surely.

An incredibly adept, friendly and professional waiter took our coats and made us feel welcome, taking time with us, as he did other diners, to explain dishes and offer advice, before swiftly returning with drinks, and a jug of iced water for the table.

As advised, we grazed on a snack, spiced house smoked nuts (£3.75) but could have gone for olives, anchovies or the toasted focaccia with acorn butter.

Executive chef Greg Lambert started his career aged 15, under Terry Laybourne at 21, on Queen Street, because his older brother was chef at Bistro 21 in Durham.

He has since worked with superchef Dan Barber and adopted a philosophy of 'sustainability' in his cooking so everything is locally sourced.

To start, I chose the tomato tartare, egg yolk and focaccia crisps, (£8) despite my misgivings, as this was exactly as it was described on the menu.

Like I said, no nonsense.

It arrived a blend of chopped tomatoes, with vinegars, a little parsley oil, a wonderfully ‘custardy’ egg yolk and the thinnish shaving of Italian bread to make a clean starter that left me eager to try to more.

Lis went for the Jerusalem artichokes, walnut and brown butter (£8) which were, as our waiter said, a bit like jacket potatoes, sweet and warming, topped with a little hard cheese. Just gorgeous.

For the main, I chose the yeasted, herb-fed chicken breast, mushroom and cranberry (£19) and while I have no complaints about the quality of the dish, here I think the presentation could have been better here.

Maybe I should I ordered a side dish, as I had been tempted by the tiptoe chips, truffle and parmesan and could have been swayed by the mash and parsley liquor, but I didn’t.

So instead, a tasty and succulent, if a little visually uninspiring, chicken breast lay alongside some yummy mushroom ‘sludge’, next to the kale.

It tasted great, better than great…but…well, this is the gallery that hosted the Turner prize I suppose.

Perhaps, like my view of lots of modern art, I just didn’t get it.

Lis was delighted with her squash and blagdon blue scarpinocc with Maple 8 vinegar (£15) and it was truly delicious, and consisted of a plate of giant stuffed pasta pillows, lying lazily on the plate, cooked to perfection.

We deliberately left room for pudding, which we shared and, as with most of the food, it was a treat for the taste buds, but again made no special effort to be especially photogenic.

The hard-to-resist sticky toffee pudding and butterscotch sauce came with banana ice cream and we also enjoyed the amazing bergamot cheesecake, rhubarb and Caramac.

Both the puddings are £8 when ordered from the a la carte menu, but the lunch and early evening menu offers three courses for £25, which we found to be great value.

This is a truly exceptional restaurant, despite what I have said about the presentation, which is not really a criticism and more of an observation.

The bottom line though is this: should you go here?

Did Van Gogh have wonky glasses?


Six Restaurant

BATIC Centre for Contemporary Art

South Shore Road



0191 440 4948

Opening hours:

Monday: Closed

Tues-Thur: 12pm-2pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm

Friday: 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm

Saturday: 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm

Sunday: Afternoon Tea 12pm-4pm

Star rating:

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Value: 9/10

Surroundings: 10/10