There’s few larger restaurants who can lay claim to being on first name terms with the people who mature their cheeses or cure their meats. But small batch producers are a key ingredient at Blacks Corner.
The story of its foods, from the sustainability of its wild venison to where the nettles have been foraged for its cheeses, which are sourced direct from British farms, is of paramount importance – so much so, each supplier is name checked on its concise, but gloriously colourful, menu.
It’s this attention to husbandry that has proved a recipe for success at this wine bar and delicatessen, which breathed new life into a derelict corner on a busy junction in East Boldon in September last year.
As well as the new venture being named after the colloquial term for this site, the extensive renovation honours the heritage of the building which was built by villager George Black in 1918. The colour palette of French grey, period brick tiling and monochrome flooring doffs its cap to the Edwardian era, while faux blossom trees sprouting through a dining table island add an air of theatricality. No surprise then that it was a runner-up in Northern Design Awards 2017.
We were seated at this central island at first. Short girl problems mean I find high stools uncomfortable, but it wasn’t a problem when we asked to be moved to one of the cosier corner tables which are made from slabs of granite.
Communication with customers is another key element at Blacks Corner and talking through the menu and where its ingredients have been sourced is all part of the experience. Saying that, we could have done with a little warning about how much food we actually ordered – fortunately, they offer a great doggy bag service.
Cheese and charcuterie are the cornerstone of the menu, so don’t go along with expectations of a typical three-course menu. We eased ourselves in with some carbs: a rather spectacular flatbread of pork belly pancetta and Yarg with wild mushrooms (£12 to share). The Cornish yarg cheese was in a word, sublime, and proved a mild and fluffy addition to the crisp flatbread, which was cut at a table with a sort of flatbread scythe.
Next up, we ordered a Blacks Corner board to share (£19), which gives you the chance to try a pick and mix of British meats and cheeses, such as fennel and pepper salami, air dried Yorkshire beef bresaola, Cornish chorizo and cheeses, such as Dorstone and Colston Bassett. My favourite was the Cotherstone, made down the A1 in Barnard Castle, which has a mild, yet meaty flavour. The board would have been enough. But we had also ordered a raclette of a beautiful brie (£14), melted at your table, which also comes with a cheeseboard. Cheese dreams are made of this!
Drinks-wise, wine is their speciality (draught options are limited to Brooklyn) and we enjoyed a refreshingly crisp Riesling (£26.50) from arguably one of the best wine lists in the area before heading home with our impressive leftovers haul.