Is one of Newcastle’s newest restaurants worth getting in a spin about? I put the menu at The Laundrette through a full cycle to find out.
Last time I visited a laundrette was in my student days when visits were always more of a chore than a treat – but it certainly looked nothing like this.
Though it’s housed beneath the new student accommodation building near Central Station, this isn’t a joint that’s aimed at the people upstairs.
This is a laundrette for the Instagram age where neon signs flash against black studded booths, industrial chic fittings and ’50s-style Americana images of pin ups sprawled over washing machines. It’s hipster, there’s no doubt about that, but it manages to still retain a laid back, welcoming atmosphere. Background music has a Stranger Things electronica edge mixed with contemporary club music, giving it a good pre-night out vibe.
One neon sign looms large above the well-stocked bar emblazoned with the words ‘cocktails and carbs’. They don’t mess around with calories here: it’s a place where you leave your diet at the door. Meanwhile, another sign tells you to ‘drop your pants’ – no mistaking that that’s where the bathrooms are then.
The bar sign was fitting, the menu is a veritable carb fest of pizzas, pastas, truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, lasagna and other belly busters. We chose to dine tapas-style, sharing starter dishes of truffle smoked cheese fondue with garlic balls (£6), bresaola and buffalo mozzarella caprese with pickled wild mushrooms and truffle cream (£9), hummus, pesto and flatbread (£4.50) and a main dish of prosciutto pizza (£11).
The caprese salad was good, but I’ve had better elsewhere. We enjoyed the retro fondue and its intense richness more and we mopped up every last drop with the pungent garlic balls.
Meanwhile, the hummus had that satisfying chunkiness you just don’t get from shop-bought versions.
It was the pizza, however, which stole the show. I’d spied a pizza oven in the open kitchen which spans the length of the back wall so I had high hopes. Italy’s national dish had the crisp bubbles of a base that’s been cooked at that perfect high temperature and was loaded with sliver upon sliver of cured ham and fresh rocket. Perfect stuff to mop up the drinks list.
Wine options are limited, this is not the place for those after a fine wine. Instead their focus seems to lie firmly with cocktails with sections devoted to shots, bloody Marys, botanical versions and more.
Many of them are novelty affairs, a raspberri floss (£8.50) is served with a base of vodka and drambuie which has been boosted with the added calories of limoncello, cream and grenadine and topped off with a cloud of baby pink candyfloss.
Others come served in flaming pineapples and glasses made to look like classic Toon tipple Newcastle Brown Ale. There’s even an imaginative alcohol-free cocktail section for little ones and drivers.
Prices for cocktails may be a little on the expensive side, but there’s some degree of drama and theatre gone into their concoction. Mixology is a real soap opera at The Laundrette.