Dining with a view: Review of Liberty Brown at The Palm, Sunderland

You can count Sunderland’s rooftop terraces on one hand – but this one may have the most inspired view of them all.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 21st June 2019, 11:50 am

Sun on our shoulders, cocktail in hand and with views overlooking the new Northern Spire bridge, the terrace at Liberty Brown proved a great spot for Saturday lunch and drinks.

Though it was years in the making, the bridge and its distinctive A-shaped frame have risen to become a much-photographed landmark. Festooned with fairy lights and with window boxes filled with herbs, this is as pretty a place you’ll find to admire the latest addition to the city’s skyline.

It’s easy to forget that Liberty Brown is there. Its original site is now Alpine-themed Wildernest, one of the new restaurants in the colourful Palm complex which opened to much hype late last year. As well as the lodge-inspired area, there’s also a Havana-esque Tropicuba, a beachcomber vibe Pineapple Cove cafe and a garden, complete with palm streets and fire pit, which sells street food on weekends.

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Liberty Brown at Hylton Riverside, Sunderland

All the new additions, which double the footprint of the site, meant Liberty Brown, which had proved popular with the family dining market, was moved upstairs to the former Saucy Burger site. Few alterations needed to be made upstairs, which was already pretty stylish, apart from moving the bar to the side and adding to the terrace area. It works well for the large family groups who used to frequent the dining space downstairs, with plenty of booths and areas for large groups with a separate entrance from The Palm, which has more of a nightclub vibe post 7pm. Plenty of free parking, unlike the city centre, is another bonus.

Food had always been a bit of a hit and miss affair at the upstairs site’s previous incarnations, Dr Feelgood and Saucy Burger, but the Liberty Brown menu seems more reliable.

There’s a good range from which to choose with sections devoted to steaks, kebabs, burgers, pizzas, flatbreads and classics such as mince and dumpling pot and fish and chips. It’s also one of the few places in the city you can order lobster – though it’s one of the more expensive dishes on the menu, as you would expect, at £15.95.

I chose the vegan superfood salad (£10.95) and promptly made it un-vegan by adding chicken for an extra fiver. Salads can be a dull choice but this was a colourful blend of quinoa, avocado, sun-blushed tomatoes, leaves, pomegranate, nuts and seeds. Varying textures and the zing of pomegranate elevated it from your average, limp salad and made it a good choice for those wanting to eat out while watching their weight.

Cocktails with a view from the Liberty Brown terrace

My sides of halloumi fries (£6.95) and padron peppers drizzled in a chilli mayo (£4.95) were less healthy, but worth the extra hours in the gym and you got plenty of sticks of fried gooey cheese for your pounds. Kids are also well catered for with make their own pizza and build your own burger options, as well as mocktails.

The food arrived in good time and we couldn’t fault the friendliness of the staff, however, it did slow down as the meal went on and we had to ask twice for our bill.

Cocktails are what the owners of the site, Apartment Group, do best and there’s plenty of weird and wonderful concoctions on there, from imaginative versions made with childhood favourite sweets such as Dip Dabs and pear drops, to flaming versions served in skull glass and huge pornstar martinis to share. And the revamped terrace is the perfect place to drink them with a view.

Halloumi fries at Liberty Brown
Chicken salad with padron peppers side at Liberty Brown
The view from Liberty Brown terrace. Photo by Katy Wheeler