A location out on a limb means Dr Feelgood’s needs enough X Factor to reel in the diners.
Much has been done to make this new venture for the Apartment Group into one that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its most successful bars across the Tyne, which include As You Like It in Jesmond and House of Smith in Collingwood Street.
Closer to home, Liberty Brown, which is beneath Dr Feelgood’s, was the group’s first foray into Sunderland.
Though the two venues are suitably stylish, Dr Feelgood’s very much has its own look and feel.
With exposed New York loft-style brickwork walls, stuffed foxes and vintage-style lamps and staff in trouser braces, the theme is Prohibition meets Victorian curiosity shop.
And it’s a bar which has both substance and style. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the drinks menu is one of the best, and most adventurous, in the city. There’s a huge array of flamboyant and sophisticated concoctions which are all made fresh behind the bar, such as the Cherry Bottle Rocket – an amaretto-based tipple served in a bottle brimming with dry ice (£5.95).
For those who like a more understated drink, there’s a good range of beers from across the globe including Flensburger Gold from Germany and Brooklyn Brown Ale from America, both priced £4.
But it isn’t just the drinks which stand out here – it’s the food. Again, its menu is like no other to have whetted your appetite on Wearside.
Any teething problems in opening week, when I’d encountered slow service, seem to have been ironed out and the staff were super attentive, prompt and helpful as we tried to come up with our choices.
There’s traditional Spanish tapas on the menu such as patatas bravas with alioli for £3.75 and salt and pepper squid £4.95.
But there’s also a range of tapas dishes infused with Asian flavours, including Bengali blackened salmon with tamarind mayonnaise (£5.95) and Korean-style beef salad (£5.50).
There are also some favourites from the Liberty Brown menu such as flatbread with tzatziki, houmous and chilli cream cheese dip (£5.95) thrown in for good mea- sure.
It was North Africa, however, which provided inspiration, for one of my favourite morsels of the meal. The Za’atar spiced halloumi saw my favourite cheese presented in a way I’ve never tasted before.
Slabs of the cheese were piled high with aubergine and other fresh vegetables which were dressed in a light and spicy Moroccan dip. It was refreshing and satisfying.
The flash fried prawns (£6.25), served with an Argentinian-style pesto-based sauce was a simpler, yet equally effective, dish.
Presentation is spot on here and as each dish was served we ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhhd’ at its appearance, devouring it with our eyes before we’d even tucked in.
It’s all these elements which make Dr Feelgood’s much more than a place to grab a quick bite to eat, it’s a place to linger over a cocktail of sophistication, far-flung flavours and laid-back style.