Review of Fuego as it brings Mediterranean flair for food to popular Fenwick department store

Fenwick may be at the heart of Newcastle, but on site restaurant Fuego transports you to the heat of the Mediterranean with its flair for fine food and wine

Saturday, 11th January 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 4:04 pm
Fuego within the Food Hall at Fenwick, Newcastle
Fuego within the Food Hall at Fenwick, Newcastle

As you’d expect from this well-respected store, Fuego is a classy affair that puts other department store restaurants to shame. It’s housed within the excellent Food Hall, but manages to create the atmosphere of a stand alone restaurant with its achingly cool Scandi meets Art Deco style.

Despite the hustle and bustle of the January sales in the store, the restaurant has a more light and airy feel and you can people watch while sat perched at the marble top bar or sink into quilted booth-style seating at the tables.

The interiors may be on trend but, unlike most newer restaurants, it has no social media presence. Instead, it relies on word of mouth for its marketing – and it’s certainly good enough to let the food speak for itself without the smoke and mirrors of Instagram.

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Manchego from the cheese menu

The menu offers a good variety: from shoppers who want to take a break snacking on small plates to couples after a chic, romantic meal (it’s open until 8pm on week nights).

As the name (Spanish for fire) would suggest, dishes draw inspiration from Spain with its tapas and charcuterie offering, and over to Napoli in Italy with its hand-stretched pizza made in the on-site pizza oven.

You can pick your way through a good choice of snacks, charcuterie, cheese, sharing boards laden with produce, fish, meat, tortilla, vegetables and pizza, served with a classic tomato base or the white pizza you often get in Italy with its béchamel sauce base.

We chose olives (£3.50) and breads (£3.50) from the snack section alongside a plate of manchego (£4.70), crab croquettes (£8.50), Gambas a la plancha with garlic and chilli (£8.50) and one of the pizza biancos: topped with tuna, manchego, red onion and black olives (£12).

Tune and red onion pizza from the white pizza section

As with all tapas joints, food arrives as it’s ready – which the polished staff inform you of when ordering – and we soon got stuck into the plump crab croquettes, packed with meat and beautifully presented on blobs of a crab mayonnaise which I could have eaten by the pot.

The focus here is on quality ingredients and good, honest flavours, as such the manchego, served with just a drizzle of oil, didn’t need gussying up to impress.

The prawns too were as good as I’ve had in Spain, the kind where you can’t resist mopping up every last bit of sauce with chunks of bread.

Meanwhile, the pizza base had just the right amount of bite and bubble you’d expect from any pizza worth its salt.

Crab croquettes and prawns from the tapas menu

Special mention too for the excellent wine list, which starts at the fairly reasonable £4.50 a glass. There’s an Enomatic wine preserving machine at the restaurant, which means all wines are available by the glass too.

Beers echo the food with Italian and Spanish options such as Estrella and Moretti, while the gins include varieties from closer to home, such as Northumberland-based Hepple Gin and Lakes Distillery which, if it particularly wets your whistle, you can buy by the bottle in the Food Hall.

Cocktails, meanwhile, have an air of Great Gatsby about them with my post-meal Basil Grande (£8) proving to be the perfect palate cleanser with its fresh flavours served in an Art Deco Martini glass.

Basil Grande cocktail