Sunderland Restaurant Week returns to the city centre on Saturday, March 11 until Sunday March 19, and gives independent restaurants and cafes the opportunity to showcase their unique dishes and flavours.
During this week food lovers can expect special two and three-course menus for £10 or £15, as well as cafes offering a daytime deal of £5. Before the city transforms its food and drink scene, I was invited along to a safari supper, with a different course at different venues, to get a taste of what to expect when this food-filled week comes to Sunderland.
The evening started with drinks and canapes at Cafe Purple, in Park Lane. This contemporary eatery is a modern cafe and stylish bar combined. Serving American-style food, freshly baked cakes and pastries along with a huge selection of cocktails and drinks.
Although I did pick at the selection of cheeses that were on offer, tonight was all about the cocktails.
Currently in the process of perfecting a new cocktail menu, Cafe Purple has one the biggest tipple menus I’ve ever seen. Being a huge lover of gin, I went for a classic Tom Collins; sweet, zesty and refreshing.
We were then treated to sharing platters at Royale Thai, which has recently opened in Mary Street. Lavished with satay chicken, spring rolls, fish cakes and various other pastries complemented with an array of sauces, this was the ideal way to sample a little bit of everything.
My favourite were the spring rolls as they were cooked to perfection; crisp on the outside with a gooey centre. They were so good I ate both shares. Everything was fresh and bursting with spice and flavour. This style of starter teased my tastebuds leaving me wanting more of what Royale Thai has to offer.
Another new addition to Sunderland’s culinary scene is City Bistro, in Park Lane. A part of Sunderland City College, not only does this eatery provide top notch cuisine, but also serves up that first step into a professional workplace for more than 90 students. From the stylish and modern decor to the service, and presentation, this restaurant really impressed me.
I went for the charred leeks with wild mushrooms topped with an egg yolk and finished with beurre noisette. This dish was full of textures and flavours. The leeks were soft, but not soggy, and the mushrooms were soaked in the buttery sauce, which was so morish.
The dish was garnished with crispy onions, which when mixed with the richness of the egg yolk, was just a taste sensation. From the delivery to the quality of the food, you wouldn’t believe it was cook by students.
The last stop was the three-story nautical-themed eatery, Port Of Call, in Park Lane. Although this restaurant specialises in meat, seafood and rum, it showed its diversity by serving up freshly baked desserts. And since it was Pancake Tuesday if would have been rude not to sample its stacks.
Stacked four tiers high, these perfectly-rounded wedges were smothered in peanut butter and topped with a dollop of Nutella and a sprinkling of bananas. Although the ratio of peanut butter and chocolate seemed way off, the balance of sweet and savoury was just right.
I’m glad I shared because one pancake down and I was absolutely stuffed.
If pancakes aren’t your thing, Port Of Call offer a variety of cheesecakes, cakes and Oreo-filled dessert jars, so you’ll definitely find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.