Review: Sir Michael Straker Cafe,The Sage, Gateshead, Tel. 0191 443 4661

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GRABBING a bite to eat at a gig usually means scoffing some greasy chips in the queue, or retrieving squashed sandwiches from the depths of your handbag.

Or, just not bothering and getting stuck into the booze.

However, the gentle acoustic sounds of rising star The Lake Poets at the renowned music venue The Sage, befitted a more gentle gig-going experience.

Despite our relatively-late arrival due to work, the Sir Michael Straker Cafe was still serving. There was plenty of choice, with soup, jacket potatoes, flatbread pizzas, wraps, pies and more.

Many of the treats on offer emerge piping hot from an in-house bakery and despite it being the end of the day, it all looked perfectly tempting.

I went for a lighter bite of a goat’s cheese flatbread, to avoid becoming stuffed and sleepy, though as it turned out my eyes and ears were transfixed as soon as the music began.

It was supposed to be accompanied by salad, but there was none left, so cheery staff put together an assortment of vegetables, crisps and coleslaw for me.

The flatbread was crispy with the distinctive, but not overwhelming taste of goat’s cheese. I gave up the knife and fork and ate it pizza-style, while my dining companion Katy made crisps disappear from my plate.

The roast potatoes accompanying it were small but delicious, with slightly crispy, salty skins.

I washed it down with a bottle of Fentimans Orange Jigger – just one of a range of botanically-brewed traditional drinks – which mixes together mandarins, Seville orange and ginger to tongue-tingling effect.

Views from the cafe add an extra dimension to even a simple meal, whether it’s the airy surroundings of the silver masterpiece by the River Tyne, or the historic buildings and glittering lights of Newcastle’s Quayside.

All this refinement comes at a cost. Prices at the cafe will set you back more than a lardy burger from a mobile takeaway, with not much change from a tenner for my snack and Katy’s glass of wine.

However, it was a pleasant treat before what turned out to be a compelling and emotionally-charged gig from one of Sunderland’s most talented musical sons.