Salt Market Social: What to expect from the latest riverside hot spot

Looming large on the riverside skyline, the blue corrugated iron facade of the Cosalt factory is a familiar landmark in North Shields.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 5:15 pm
Salt Market Social

But while little may have changed on the building’s outside over the decades, inside its first floor is now home to a destination pop-up food, drinks and events space that’s bringing something completely different to North Tyneside.

After years of planning, months of renovation works and a global pandemic, Salt Market Social finally opened its doors in Liddell Street last weekend and it’s proved worth its salt.

Anyone who’s visited East London, or Newcastle’s Boiler Shop and By The River Brew, will be familiar with the concept of using once industrial sites and re-purposing them for the 21st century with good food, fine ales, Instagrammable decor and entertainment. And it’s a modern day business model that works a treat in this once heavily industrialised area, while also complementing the neighbouring pubs, which have pulled pints for sailors and more for hundreds of years.

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Salt Market Social in the former Cosalt factory in Liddell Street, North Shields

There’s plenty of atmosphere in this cavernous space of 740sqm, festooned with bunting, which doffs its cap to its locality with artworks by local street artists depicting whales, mermaids and more abstract works that sit alongside vintage pieces of furniture – you’ll even spot the original disco balls from the the old Mayfair nightclub in Newcastle if you look close enough.

It all helps to breathe new life into what could easily become a forgotten building, while utilising its factory features to create a memorable night out.

How often is there a Social?

Although the venue itself is permanent, socials will take place monthly or more often depending on special occasions, such as a Bank Holiday. Look out for announcements when you can book a slot for a social. The site can also be used for functions and events, as well as private hire and weddings.

Artworks honour the seafaring history of the area

The Food

The site has been fitted with separate stalls for traders, which will rotate with each social. On opening weekend, people could feast on street food from North Shields Mexican favourites Lobo Rojo, Tynemouth’s Pan Asia, Med Head, Hatch 76 and La Petit Creperie. Each social will have a firm focus on catering for all palates with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Each dish is priced via tokens. You buy tokens from your server, then order the food from the stall yourself, which is brought to your table.

The Drink

A number of North East breweries were serving brews at opening weekend including Wylam, Errant, Northern Alchemy, Allendale and Flash House Brewing Co. Although it’s not a cocktail place, there’s also a good range of spirits available, including those from local distilleries such as Hepple Gin and St Mary’s Gin. There’s also a handful of wine options, but the focus is more on craft beers and spirits. You order drink from your server who brings it to your table. You set up a tab and are given a bill at the end.

Some of the street food available on opening weekend. Food traders will rotate each social.

Prices

Each food token is worth £3 and dishes are priced either £3, £6 or £9. As an example of pricing, a Med Hed margherita pizza would cost you two tokens, a Nutella crêpe from La Petite Crêperie is one token and a roti wrap from Pan Asia is two tokens. For drinks, a single measure of Hepple Gin is £3.80, Baileys is £3. Beer-wise, a pint of Wylam’s Jakehead is £6, a pint of Guinness is £4.80. Entry to a Social is free, but when booking a £20 deposit is taken for your table, which is deducted from your bill.

Social Distancing

The venue has capacity for 450 people, but is currently running at 200 capacity seated. Each table is 2metres apart and there is a one-way system, track and trace and temperature checks in place. Tables of a maximum of eight people are booked for 90 minute slots. Only one person from the group is asked to order the food from the stalls, with the same person ordering each time.

Drinks are served via table service

When is the next Social?

The next social is on the August Bank Holiday weekend, from August 28-31, 2020. Food traders will be Acropolis Greek food, Crispy Conewich, Chucho’s Mexican, Pan Asia and La Petite Crêperie. Walk ups may be available on the day, but it’s best to book ahead here.

Future dates are September 25-27, October 23-25 and November 27-29. Timings vary depending on the day, but it’s generally from noon until 11pm.

Getting there

There’s no parking on site, but a Pay And Display parking is available on Bell Street, a 2 minute walk away. If you’re coming from south of the Tyne, it’s easily accessible from the Shield Ferry landing, which is a five-minute walk away.

Is it family friendly?

Plenty of talking points on the walls

Yes. A relaxed, seated, daytime vibe means children are welcome. The venue is also dog-friendly. The site is upstairs, but there’s a lift on site for those with push chairs or mobility issues.

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Shabby chic galore
The Salt Market Social building on North Shield's Fish Quay. Photo by Steve Ellwood