REVIEW: Nectar Bar, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle

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Apologies, but I’m going to roll out a cliche for this restaurant.

Nectar Bar, tucked above other eateries on a busy street, is a hidden gem if ever I’ve seen one.

But a Sunderland chef is hoping to change all that and lure more people to this bar and restaurant.

David Gill, of Juniper’s Pantry fame, has taken over the reins in the kitchen and is juggling cooking in the Toon with running his Barnes deli.

The result is a menu with a trendy gastro twist on British classics such as pork cheek terrine with piccalilli. Two courses are £15, or pick up three courses for £18.95.

Scoffing chum Jane had the goats cheese croquette to start – golden and crisp, with a melting centre, it was almost a meal in itself. She savoured every mouthful of its mellow flavours.

For her main course, she was persuaded into trying a cut of featherblade beef by our waiter. Another traditionally cheaper cut of meat that has found favour with chefs again, it had been braised until the meat crumbled under her fork.

I had crispy duck and black pudding scotch egg, with onion salad and mustard yoghurt, to start. Bigger than a tennis ball, the scotch egg was bursting at its breaded seams with meat, and a perfectly-runny egg oozed out of it from the first cut.

Next up were fish cakes. Inside was a blend of fish and leek and there was just the right balance struck between the light cod and the more intense flavour of the leek.

Though I would have liked a little more of the delicious buttered kale to accompany it.

Before I reach my word limit, I must mention the interiors, a mixture of whimsical features and Hawaiian patterns, it’s like someone is throwing a hula party in an English country home, but it works.

Cocktail-lovers will also lap up the drinks menu which boasts an adventurous range of almost 100 tipples – yes, 100, with unusual ingredients such as toast, candy floss and even cereal.