What do you get when you combine some of the best views in the city with sophisticated surroundings and top-notch food?
The new brasserie at the National Glass Centre, that’s what.
It’s not the most obvious choice for Friday night dining, but adverts promoting the newly re-opened centre’s summer dining nights lured me to this sun-drenched riverside spot.
We were two of only a sprinkling of diners enjoying this new offering at the centre after its £2.3million refit.
I’d always enjoyed the NGC’s eaterie in its former guise as Throwing Stones, but this fine dining evening option has raised the bar.
Gone are the uncomfortable plastic chairs to be replaced by padded leather-look chairs and industrial-chic tables that echo the surroundings. In keeping with the centre’s ethos of celebrating our glass heritage, the plates are pleasantly chunky affairs inscribed with local tales.
As a nice touch, visitors to the summer dining nights, which runs on Friday and Saturday evenings until the end of the month, are treated to a glass of prosecco and strawberries on arrival.
The proof of whether improvements will help to draw more people here is, of course, in the pudding.
The menu is peppered with local dishes, such as pan haggerty, Northumberland smoked cheese tart and Prudhoe pork loin medallion, with classic favourites thrown in for good measure, such as the brasserie mixed grill.
To start, we tucked into one of the new Gather and Graze sharing platters. (£9.50)
It’s designed for a minimum of two people, but there was more than enough for three.
Two waiters carried over a thick slate board laden with marinated olives, rosemary focccia, tzatziki, houmous, parma ham, beetroot and goats cheese curd.
I didn’t know which to go for first, but the goats cheese was my first victim. It was still warm and melted into submission as I pierced it with my fork. It was complemented perfectly by the fluffy foccacia and fresh beetroot.
We had a break in between courses while the mixed grill main (£17.50), chosen by my fellow diner, was prepared.
It arrived at exactly the same time as my choice, duck from the specials menu.
My meal was a pretty affair, perfectly laid out slices of prime duck with roasted vegetables. It tasted divine too.
The mixed gill, was mighty and meaty. The medium rare steak was tender and juicy, the lamb and pork nicely trimmed, the sausage packed with flavour and the onion rings were whole rings of onion. It was served with a large side portion of béarnaise sauce.
We couldn’t fit in a dessert, although we had been eyeing up the pannacotta with fruits, ginger and lime (£3.75).
Instead, we finished off our drinks while listening to the strains of jazz music being played through the speakers. It all felt very civilised. It’s just a shame there weren’t more people there to enjoy it.
For those after a cheaper option, the Early Bird Menu, which runs on Fridays from 5pm to 7pm, offers one course for £9; two courses for £15 and three courses for £17.