OVER the years I’ve followed my former classmate Stacie Stewart’s culinary career with interest.
I’ve written about her appearances in the This Morning kitchen and I’ve eaten many a cupcake from her Beehive Bakery in Hylton Riverside, which she opened after appearing in Masterchef.
However, it’s her new venture in partnership with The Olive Coffee House and Kitchen which led to me trying one of her sit-down meals for the first time.
It was the first in a series of guest appearances at the cafe where she’ll be taking over the reins at the kitchen.
She started off the venture with a culinary classic – the good-old British Sunday roast.
It didn’t take much persuasion to drag Echo chum Jane O’Neill along with me and we were seated at a cosy table for two for our mate date.
For anyone who’s always been lured in by the big names for their coffee, this independent coffee shop and cafe is worth a shot.
Though its consumerist cousins can be plagued by queues and tussles over tables and chairs, the vibe here is much more laid back.
The theme is verging on the Moroccan with splashes of orange here, there and everywhere and we enjoyed bopping along to the background music of The Beatles as we made our menu choices.
The Sunday lunch menu is brief, but it does what it says on the tin.
You can choose from a single course lunch for £8.95, with a children’s version at £5.75; two courses for £10.95 or, if your waistband is loose enough, three courses for £12.95.
Despite being limited, the menu still catered for the vegetarians out there.
Starters included home-made chicken liver pate, prawn cocktail, creamy garlic mushrooms and goats cheese and red onion tart.
The main meal choice is beef, turkey or mushroom and nut Wellington with all the trimmings.
I don’t usually have a starter with a roast dinner, but for review purposes, I braved the goat’s cheese tart.
It kicked off the meal deliciously. The tart was beautifully crumbly and had a sweet edge that complemented a huge slab of warmed-through gooey goats cheese.
Jane’s starter of prawn cocktail was a generous portion which would have served as a light lunch, so she ditched the bread accompaniment and stuck to devouring the lighter elements of the dish.
With my waistline limbered up, I was presented with my beef dinner. It looked lip-smackingly good and tasted even better. The Yorkshires were perfectly puffed up and were home-made to a tee.
I couldn’t get enough of the creamy mash and tender beef either which I smothered with a rich gravy. I must admit to struggling to eat my greens though – always the way!
Jane persevered with her turkey dish and managed to polish off more than me.
Despite being stuffed, she couldn’t resist one of the puddings – you can choose from home-made sticky toffee pudding, chocolate fudge cake and peanut butter stack.
She chose the latter, which was a calorie-laden treat for the taste buds.
Stacie’s next Sunday lunch takes place at The Olive on June 10. She is also hosting a five-course Masterchef taster session on September 8.