REVIEW: McKenna’s at the Northern Stage

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Barras Bridge,

Newcastle

Kitchen staff were performing to a small audience when my friend and I arrived at McKenna’s.

We had plenty of seats to choose from in the spacious foyer and a large cast on the menu.

Offering a smorgasbord of snacks, sharing platters, mezze and tapas, it’s also ideally-suited for the fussy, the vegan and the allergic.

There is something here for everyone, making it perfectly suited to its theatre setting.

Even a confirmed vegan and an avowed meat eater could pick out a selection of tapas and nibbles.

We decided to share a mezze board of houmous, olives, feta cheese, pitta and stuffed vine leaves for £7.95.

I beefed this up with a tapas-sized portion of chicken casserole for £4.50, while my friend added grilled vegetables for £3.95.

Maybe it was the lack of meat, but although the wooden board of nibbles was generous, it was definitely missing something.

The white chunks of cheese and mixed olives were heavy on the salt and the vine leaves needed a kick, possibly from a healthy dash of flaming red harissa.

Our tapas dishes arrived at the same time – as it should be with this kind of dining and perfect if you’re pushed for time pre-show.

The chicken in my casserole was served on the bone, in a hearty stew, with carrots and potatoes. Not a traditional tapas dish, but it was comforting and held the flavour the mezze board lacked.

McKenna’s also serves up pricier main courses, along the lines of hearty dinners – lambs liver, roasted cod and seafood risotto – and pub-grub style desserts, with school pudding and custard catching my eye.

Service was sharp, as you’d expect, given the number of diners were barely out of single figures.

The surroundings are laid-back, but with a hint of style, and while it was a little quiet when we dined, it can have quite a buzz at lunch times or before a production.

Jane O’Neill