PUNTERS in Newcastle can be spoilt for choice when it comes to quirky venues - so bars have their work cut out if they want to make a mark.
New kid on the block Lola Jean’s is doing that by blending eye-catching artworks (think Day of the Dead Mexican skulls meets shabby chic) with unusual tipples, distressed-look furniture and belly-busting portions of proper grub.
We visited on a Sunday afternoon and were welcomed by a relaxed atmosphere, but if you’re planning a weekend night visit it’s worth booking ahead as word has spread about this boutique bar and it fills up fast.
Menu-wise, the devil is in the detail and there’s been no stone left unturned in this bar’s quest to serve up a unique range of drinks. Ever had a drink that smells like the smokey incense of the Orient? Me neither, until now. Not sure which ingredient gave the Silk Road (£7.50), which blends gin with aloe vera, St Germain, fresh lime, mint and Angostura bitters, its heady aroma, but it was an intoxicating tipple, served in a Moroccan style tea tumbler.
It’s a menu which also doffs its cap to its locality with the Newcastle Brown Ale-based Fog on the Tyne (£7.50) and the coffee infused Jägermeister-flavoured Coal Face Flip (£7.50). Served with a whole egg, this coal-named drink is best for those with a cast iron stomach.
While the drinks dip in and out of the exotic Far East for flavour inspiration, the food menu is classic American British fusion.
This place means business when it comes to burgers, which are minced in house. Choices include the imaginatively-titled Sloppy Joe (£9.95), which features house chilli, avocado, pickles and jalapeño sour cream and BB King which, judging by the ones that were whisked past us, comes bursting with blue cheese, creamed mushrooms, streaky bacon and crispy shallots (£8.95).
As good as the bulging burgers looked, I was swayed by one of the BBQ platter options, the seafood version (£13.95). I’d gone for the platter for one, but it could have served two as a waded through slabs of salmon, smoked with a Cajun seasoning for a kick; golf ball-sized meaty catfish bon bons; fluffy tempura prawns; triple-cooked chips with just the right amount of bite and crunchy coleslaw.
It may have taken me an hour to wade through it all, but I couldn’t pick fault with any of the food.
Her name was Lola...a place where fine food and drink is always in fashion.