Free Weekend? Explore Newcastle’s food scene and – if you’re quick – EAT! festival
It’s long been known as one of the world’s best party cities, but did you know the annual EAT! festival is in its seventh year? We give an overview of some of the best food-based fun you can have in the Geordie capital
Grainger Market Grade 1 listed Grainger Market is in the heart of the city centre. Built in 1835, this traditional indoor market houses independent food retailers including Pumphrey’s Coffee centre, Health Box, mmm, which stocks products from local food producers including artisan breads and oils, and glug, which does the same for drinks. Good longstanding options are Mark Toney, an ice cream parlour in the Marine Ices mould. We also loved Oliver & Eden Butcher’s, Matthew’s Cheese (main pic, try the local Collingwood) and Lindsay, the fishmongers who’ve traded there since 1936.
A Walking Food Tour A brilliant way to spend a couple of hours: blue badge guide Jan Williams will accompany you through the cobbled back streets and marketplaces down past the Castle and cathedral to the Quayside. The spiel? Charismatic tales packed with unexpected history, from the story behind the Earl Grey Monument to Newcastle Brown Ale and the origins of Gregg’s (who opened their first shop in the city in 1951).
You’ll learn too a whole new language: wonderful words like stottie, fladge, silver darlings, bullets and pan haggerty. And who knew Lucozade originated in the toon too?
Street food markets The Boiler Shop Steamer is an after-work social on the first Friday and Saturday of every month where you can sample ever-changing food vendors and wind down with local ales (such as Tyneside Blonde). It also programmes pop-up boutiques and shops, cinema screenings, comedy and live music.
This is box title
Accommodation: Hotel Indigo
Hotel Indigo is a big bold luxury boutique hotel in Grainger Town, right by Central Station. Manhattan style cocktail bar, plush banquettes, industrial lighting, Marco Pierre White steakhouse, and upscale monochrome rooms, some of which feature balconies with ace views over the city (all cupolas, spires and turrets.) A tad too many images of the great moody chef splatter the walls, and yet despite his photographic omnipresence, there was little evidence of culinary expertise in our breakfasts, all sliced shop-bought bread and roadcaff blandness (eggs benedict, for example, had fridge-cold smoked salmon and a hard poached egg). Still, a handy place to stay – just eat breakfast out, perhaps at the Butterfly Cabinet Cafe (200 Heaton Road). And lovely smiley service throughout from the front of house team. Rooms from £129. More info here.
The EAT! Food festival finishes on Sunday September 8. Head up there this weekend and you’ll find Eat! Street, The Boiler Shop (a pop-up cocktail speakeasy) and about 15 other events, from “Tea on the Quayside” to pub walking tours, exotic sausage-making and fish masterclasses. More info here.