One of the things that excited me most when planning my recent trip to Newcastle was the prospect of the food. That’s probably not much of a surprise if you’ve spent even a moment on this blog before, but I had heard that Newcastle was especially good for meat-free eating.
Now, as I’ve discussed before, having an omni partner does mean that I often have to seek out restaurants that serve both meat dishes and imaginative veggie options (i.e. not mushroom risotto). On the downside this means I only visited one of Newcastle’s vegetarian restaurants, but on plus side, I did find plenty of other great foodie options. If I ever go back to Newcastle I definitely want to visit the highly recommended Painted Elephant but they were closed for an event the weekend I was in town. Here’s my pick for eating vegetarian in Newcastle:
A Taste of Persia | vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options
Located just a stone’s throw from Newcastle central station, this friendly family owned restaurant serves up authentic Iranian food. We were seated in the small, busy and unfussily decorated downstairs area.
I was really looking forward to eating here, having had Persian food in Leeds several times, and was pleased to see there were a few veggies dishes on the menu that were new to me among the plentiful selection of vegetarian and some vegan options on the menu. To start, I ordered the Sini Mazeh to share between two. The mezze consisted of hummus, mirza ghasemi, dolmeh and mixed olives, served with a huge yet light naan bread. The dips were perfectly prepared and the dolmeh – stuffed vine leaves – were robustly flavoured to balance out the strong taste of the leaves.
For my main I had the Lubia, a mix of green beans, butter beans, garlic and tomato cooked into a rich stew and a portion of Adas Polow, steamed basmati rice cooked with a very tasy combination of lentils, sultanas, fried onion & cinnamon, to soak up the sauce of the stew. Unlike the Persian restaurant I’ve visited in Leeds, A Taste of Persia do serve alcohol and have a decent wine selection. The food was great value, with my Lubia stew being only £5!
Note: there are two branches of A Taste of Persia – one in the city centre and one in Jesmond – so be sure to book the right one (we accidentally booked the wrong one and had to re-book!).
Red House | vegetarian options
Part pub, part pie shop, Red House is only a few steps from the Quayside and located in characterful Tudor building. We were a little confused at first since we were seated at a table by one of the staff but given no menu or direction and they disappeared before we could ask. Though we’d booked in advance, the table wasn’t particularly clean and the bunker-esque area we were seated in had damp walls and a strong vinegar smell. We wondered if this was all a bad sign, but fortunately, the service improved and the food more than made up for everything else.
Red House has a great menu system where you choose each component of the meal separately; I particularly like this since, as a veggie, you could revisit and have a very different meal each time by mixing and matching the different parts. I chose the sweet potato, goat’s cheese and spicy tomato pie served with garlic mash, minted peas and parsley gravy. This was exactly the kind of hearty, satisfying food that you rarely get in a pub – too often the meat-free option will be miles away, but not here!
Scrumpy Willow | vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options
The only dedicated vegetarian place I managed to squeeze onto the agenda was Scrumpy Willow. Describing themselves as ‘a boutique vegetarian and vegan restaurant by night and a cafe by day’ they are set in the centre of Newcastle’s shopping district with a cosy interior and friendly staff.
Since we were there for lunch, both Pete and I went with a sandwich option, mine was the dahl pita with spinach and toasted coconut and Pete’s the homemade falafel pita. I also ordered a soy latte to drink. They were ideal for a light lunch… that still left room for dessert!
Choosing which dessert to have, however, was a very tough decision but I went with one from the special’s board, a vegan coconut and lime cheesecake. Pete opted for the vegan ginger chocolate cake with ice cream – I was impressed to see that they offered a choice of dairy ice cream or Swedish Glace non-dairy ice cream with it.
Have you visited Newcastle? What is your top foodie pick in the city?