REVIEW – Signatures, Wynyard Street, Silksworth

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SIGNATURE dishes are some of my favourite in the city, so when I heard the restaurant was swapping Sunniside for Silksworth I was worried it would affect the quality of the food.

But my fears proved unfounded. Granted, the menu is virtually unrecognisable – gone are the gourmet English dishes in favour of more affordable Italian food – but the Signatures staff are still whisking up platefuls of tantalising treats.

Though Signatures has stuck with its colour schemes of reds and other rich hues, the new building is a whole new ball game compared to the sometimes cramped space it occupied in West Sunniside.

The owners have spent months transforming the former Lord Castlereagh RAOB Club, or Buffs as it was affectionately known, into a separate restaurant and bar.

There’s acres of space in the new venue – ok, not acres, but it’s pretty large which means there’s plenty of room between tables.

For larger groups there’s a ‘snug’ area and whopping booths which can seat around 10 people.

The owners have breathed new life into the former social club which had lain derelict for almost three years and its paid off.

Punters are piling through the doors from the neighbouring streets and beyond.

Easy parking, purse-pleasing prices and pucker tucker seem to be the ingredients Signatures needed to make the venture a success.

Now you can pick up some pizza or pasta dishes for as little as £5.95 with the most expensive being a fillet steak with king prawns in a mango, lime and mild chilli cream sauce for £19.95.

Starving after a long day at Echo Towers, colleague Cara and I eagerly picked our way through the menu.

To start, I chose the beef tomatoes with mozzarella and basil (£4.95) and was presented with a portion which would serve as a light lunch. It was lip-smackingly good to boot.

Cara, meanwhile, chowed down on some perfectly presented prawns in a garlic, white wine and spicy fresh chilli sauce. (£6.95)

Family friendliness is key at Signatures and Cara’s whippersnapper, Tate, was kept happy with a kids’ portion of pizza and chips which was served alongside our starters.

Special mention must also go to the homemade rosemary bread which was simply divine.

From the main meal section you can expect the usual Italian food suspects, but there was nothing ordinary about my marinara risotto choice (£8.95).

It was stuffed to the gills with fresh mussels, prawns and cockles in a most delicious blend of rice flavoured with garlic, white wine and tomato.

You know when a meal is so good you don’t want it to end? That. Though when my waist band started to tighten I knew it was time to admit defeat.

Cara ordered from the specials board and was presented with a large bowl of spaghetti and huge chunky prawns in a deliciously light tomato and cream sauce. She lapped it up.

Despite the belly-busting portions we’d just devoured, we somehow found room for some Beckleberry’s ice cream. Made in the North East, its lemon curd version was like little mouthfuls of culinary heaven.