A bar and restaurant on Newcastle’s Collingwood Street, showcasing world cuisine and cocktails, has an award-winning chef and mixologist among its ranks.
Two Fifths, owned by hairdresser John Snell and partner Claire Buzzeo, employed Vasilis Koutsioubis as head chef. He has previously worked at well-respected establishments such as Café 21 and Café Vivvo on the Quayside and spent five years working as sous chef at the award-winning Thallassa restaurant at five-star Elounda Beach Hotel in Crete.
Mr Koutsioubis said: “I love being busy and Two Fifths has certainly been that. This is the first time I have been head chef and it’s great to be so involved. The fact that John is happy to do seasonal menus is brilliant as it means it’s constantly evolving and growing.
“We started with just a few courses to choose from for lunch and dinner and now we have a well-rounded, balanced menu, all in the commonwealth theme, plus early morning brunch options and homemade cakes, as well as late night serving platters. It’s wonderful.
“My favourite dish to cook at the moment has to be our Colonial Goose, which is actually a leg of lamb stuffed with sage, honey and scallions, served with roasties, green beans and peppers and a rich red wine sauce. It’s inspired from early colonial pioneers in New Zealand who had sheep aplenty but goose was scarce so they improvised to give them a taste of home.”
Mr Snell also hired TIM WARD as bar manager who had previously worked at Popolo on Pilgrim Street, which closed earlier this year. He has several industry awards in the art of cocktail making and teaches classes all over the UK to aspiring mixologists.
His concoctions include Honey Whiskey Sours, Clyde Maid and tequila-based Mexicali Shmoe, which was shortlisted for the Cocktail of the Year award by Patron Tequila last month.
On what attracted him to the role, Tim said: “Initially it was the fact that Two Fifths is an independent establishment. I’ve felt for a while now that too many new bars and restaurants that open in Newcastle are either part of a big chain or are opened by people that can afford to have a money-is-no-object ethos. In my opinion, these venues lack familiarity and character, two qualities that Two Fifths has in abundance.
“I would like to think that Two Fifths could be the beginning of a much-needed independent spirit within the city.”
Manager John Snell commented: “It was a massive decision to change Saints Hairdressers into a bar and restaurant but it was something I have wanted to do for years. It’s in such a great location and in such a fantastic building that it seemed like a natural move for me. However, I knew that in order to make a success of it I needed an exceptional team and investing in my staff is my number-one priority.
“I met Vas a while ago and was impressed with his flair in the kitchen so when we decided to finally go for it, I contacted him and asked if he wanted to be part of something special in the North East. Luckily, he said yes.
“Our menu changes regularly but there is one constant, all of our food is influenced from a time when the British Empire spanned two-fifths of the globe. It’s something quite unique not just in Newcastle but in the UK and it’s a part of history which, I believe, should be celebrated.”
The renovated Victorian building boasts a main dining area, an elevated intimate dining room, which sits six, plus a poker-themed private dining area downstairs.