Gin and jazz go hand-in-hand when it comes to sophisticated entertainment.
Our fellow diners certainly looked the part at the first in a series of summer events at the National Glass Centre: a swathe of pashmina-wearing ladies and waistcoat-clad gents surrounded us as we prepared to take our seats.
We looked distinctly under-dressed in jeans, but a glass of gin and tonic on arrival soon helped us to get over our sartorial shame.
This is the only tipple that comes as part of the set price of £25 per person. The rest of your drinks have to be ordered at the bar.
Table service does, of course, apply to the three courses which also form part of the package.
The menu is set, with the starters and puddings given a gin twist to complement the theme of the proceedings.
As such, the starter was gin and dill-cured salmon. It was light and refreshing, as you’d expect from a dish of this ilk.
The main, however, seemed a little incongruous: chicken stuffed with herb mousseline and served with vegetables. The chicken was served as a generous portion, but the chunks of carrot and turnip seemed over-boiled. Though this dish would have warmed you up in a winter setting, I expected a lighter dish for a summer jazz evening.
The pudding seemed more in keeping: a citrus lemon tart with gin and tonic ice cream. The tart was smooth and velvety, while the ice cream proved a perfect palate cleanser.
I’ve only tried gin in its unadulterated liquid form, but it proved a tart and boozy addition to ice cream and was a great way of infusing the food with the theme of the evening.
Location-wise, there a few venues that can offer such views of the sun setting over the Wear and though I’m used to dining here during the day, the brasserie works perfectly for a more formal evening setting.
We felt perfectly relaxed as we sat back and listened to the dulcet tones of singer Eliza Lawson. The flame-haired North East singer had great stage presence and proved captivating with her jazz versions of tracks by John Legend and Justin Timberlake, as well as a sultry, slowed-down version of Rihanna’s Please Don’t Stop the Music.
The Sound of Summer evenings continue at the venue with another gin and jazz night on August 28. Or, you can take a trip to the Deep South with a bourbon and blues night on July 31 and September 25.