Hopefully my mam won’t be reading this as I think I’ve found my favourite Sunday lunch in Sunderland - even better than hers.
I last reviewed Bonded Warehouse fresh from its take over by the company behind the hugely-popular Fat Hippo brand, when I was really impressed by its mid-week tapas offering.
A year later and the tapas is no more, with the multi-purpose venue focusing more on events. However, once a week it operates as a restaurant for Sunday Club from 11.30am to 5pm - and it’s worth waiting all week for.
This historic 19th century warehouse, once a cornerstone of port trade, is a little off the beaten track in Sunderland’s Fish Quay. But it means there’s plenty of free street parking and you can have a nice wander along this oft-forgotten part of the riverside before lunch. The East End may not be as pretty for a Sunday mooch as the North Side, but it’s got bags of character.
Inside Bonded, the £250,000 renovation of the former student haunt is sympathetic to its Grade II-listed status with an elegant Victorian aesthetic. Think a heritage colour palette of deep greens and blues and period-style tiling blended with industrial exposed beams and a ceiling festooned with dry hops and fairy lights. It’s a huge space too, with plenty of large tables to accommodate family groups. A lift was out of order on our visit, but it’s usually wheelchair and buggy-friendly too.
All too often on-trend places likes this can be a case of style over substance. But Bonded have paid just as much attention to detail in the kitchen.
Prices may be higher than your typical Sunday lunch in the city, at two courses for £16 and three for £20 with a kids half portion for £6, but this is far removed from an average carvery offering.
The menu’s concise, but imaginative, with starter choices including whipped chicken livers with onion jam and toasted brioche and honey roast carrots with hummus, yoghurt, avocado and toasted seeds.
I went with the black pudding nuggets with habanero ketchup. Some like it hot and this is the dish for them with a rich sauce that hits you right in the sinuses. It worked well with the meaty nuggets, loaded with this most traditional of British products. Far from the slabs served on a full English, this showed off the black pudding’s dense flavour without drowning it in grease.
For mains - which rotate monthly - we had a choice of beef, pork, lamb or veggie. I had the beef, which they checked if I was ok with being pink. It arrived as a behemoth of a Sunday dinner, a whopping, fluffy Yorkshire pudding in danger of toppling off the plate with folds of beautifully tender beef.
It sat on a bed of smooth-as-silk creamed mash and roast root veggies with a side of incredibly-rich cauliflower gratin. It’s served with extra gravy, so you don’t have to keep asking for more, and it was the proper stuff made with the meat juices, the kind you could drink with a spoon.
I was defeated towards the end and needed a nap - that’s when you know a Sunday dinner is the real deal.