LIKE most teenage boys of his age, my 16-year-old son communicates mostly with grunts.
The exception to this rule is our Friday night out. For the past two years, my elder son and I have been eating out every Friday night.
We travel far and wide in our quest for good food, but last Friday night was a first – we ate at an airport.
Well, nearly. Our destination was Fratello’s Italian restaurant, which is in the Doubletree Hilton hotel at Newcastle Airport.
Fratello’s looks a classy affair, terracotta-painted walls, wooden floors and roaring stand-alone fires. The look is completed by large ceiling lamps and abstract paintings on the wall.
The menu isn’t that extensive, but perfectly adequate. For main courses, for instance, you can choose between nine pizzas, nine pastas or risottos, five meat dishes or two fish dishes.
My son and I were hungry so we ordered the pane clad Italiano (£3.50) which was warm bread served with olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread was as good as it smelled and filled a hole while we waited for our starters proper.
I opted for the goat’s cheese and beetroot tart (£7.25), which was served with beetroot puree and rocket. The two flavours complemented each other beautifully and the tart itself was hard and crispy, rather than too soft.
My son chose the gamberoni pastella (£8.95) – three huge king prawns cooked in a light batter and served with a chilli jam and lemon mayonnaise. This disappeared very rapidly, my son declaring the dish “wonderful.”
I’d chosen the chicken stuffed with mozzarella, tomato and basil (£13.95) for my main course and had also opted for two side dishes – chips (£2.95) and vegetables (also £2.95). The chicken was fine, well cooked and full of flavour. The chips were great too, but the vegetables a bit too undercooked for my liking.
My son, however, had no complaints about his choice – the spicy Italian meatballs (£8.95). His plate was cleared in a flash.
We both had room for dessert. I went for the warm panettone with iced citrus parfait and orange sauce (£6.95) while my son chose the chocolate brownie with pistachio ice cream (also £6.95).
Both were superb, the warm sponge of my panettone mixed beautifully with the orange sauce and frozen parfait.
It wasn’t cheap and it did feel odd not flying on to somewhere else, but this is a stylish, quality restaurant with superb service.