A SMART Victorian-style frontage and giant picture windows make for good first impressions at this bistro/cafe on trendy Brentwood Avenue.
Tables and chairs outside on the pavement are pressed into use on sunny days, and inside, the décor is stylish and contemporary.
Some may remember it in its Stewart & Co deli and butchery days. Today it’s a relaxed eaterie, serving up everything from brunches, snacky lunches, coffee and cake, or smarter dinner.
Chef/proprietor Lucas Morrison is the chap at the helm, and the bistro is named after his young son, Arlo.
We’d popped in as a family, mid-afternoon one Saturday, when it was still half full.
We liked the feel of the bistro and the interiors, complete with sturdy tables, sage green walls, quirky antler chandeliers and semi-open kitchen.
One wall features shelves of deli store-cupboard offerings such as oils, vinegars and chutneys alongside a counter of tempting home-made cakes and slices. A real sight to behold for those with a sweet tooth.
For those wanting a quick coffee and cake there are chunky inviting sofas to sink into.
We took a table near the window with a view of the kitchen. The setting was light and bright –- thanks to those huge windows.
Our young waitress wasn’t in the best of moods, though, plonking a pot of cutlery down on the table with a thud.
I sipped a glass of Sollazzo Trebbiano Grechetto, Umbria, £3.75 for 175ml, the other half had a Peroni, 330ml for £2.80, and the kids had Diet Cokes. We’d asked for just lemon in one, no ice, but it came with ice, no lemon!
The lunch menu included offerings such as home-made quiche, toasted ciabatta, roasted veg and cheddar wrap and soup of the day to more hearty dishes of beef stew and Thai green curry with rice.
My choice was Vietnamese chicken salad – grilled chicken strips with julienne of peppers, spring onions and coriander, all tossed together with rice noodles and soy, £8.95.
The noodles were absolutely awful, not cooked properly, still hard, and completely inedible. It was a shame because the other components of the dish were fine but after picking out what I could, most of it went to waste.
To be fair, the staff offered to take it off the bill, without any quibble, conceding the noodles weren’t right.
Hubby fared much better with his Thai fishcakes with garnish of diced mango, coriander, lime, cucumber, red onion and tomato salsa and baby gem lettuce, £8.95.
The fishcakes, packed with salmon and smoked haddock, were presented as two giant balls, attractively served up on a slate platter, with wedge of lemon. It was a very filling dish for lunch. Blue cheese and Brown Ale risotto, £8.95, the choice of the teenager, was similarly excellent. And the portion size wasn’t too overwhelming for what can be a rich dish.
The rice had just the right bite and a rich flavour from using good, well-seasoned stock; generous chunks of punchy cheese slowly melted into the mix. With mum helping her out, my noodles by now cast aside, every last morsel was polished off.
The younger one opted for home-made fish fingers with chips, salad and home-made tartare sauce, £7.95.
The dish looked appetising and was attractively presented on a rustic wooden platter, the chips in a metal mini-frier.
The fish was served up as three goujon-style pieces, in light, crisp batter, and unusually they’d used hokey, an ethically sourced fish. The giant chips with skins on were a hit with us all.
The eaterie really comes into its own when it comes to the tempting and expansive display of quality cakes.
We finished with a slice of home-made carrot, orange and walnut cake, £2.95, and orange and chocolate tiffin, £2.35, both of which were excellent, and Ringtons coffees.
The cake was a generous slice, moist, with a good strong orange flavour, and plenty of slivers of carrot worked through. The top and bottom cakes, sandwiched with thick buttercream icing, were two different colours so clearly home-made!
The tiffin, too, was soft, with an appealing citrus flavour and packed with raisins – a decadent chocolatey treat.
It was good to linger over coffee and cake. We loved the setting and the relaxed ambience. By now, even the surly waitress had found her smile.
And besides, the cakes were so good, they almost made up for the noodles.
Address: Arlo, 36-38 Brentwood Avenue, West Jesmond, Newcastle, NE2 3DH. Tel: 0191 281 4838.
Open: Mon, 8.30am-5pm; Tue-Sat 8.30am-9pm; Sun, 9am-5pm.
First impressions: Smart Victorian-style frontage and big picture windows, light and bright bistro/cafe.
Style, design and furnishings: Stylish, modern decor, quirky antler lights, sturdy tables, semi-open kitchen.
Cuisine: Everything from brunch, lunch and dinner, plus coffee and cakes. Evening menus offer selection of British, French and Thai dishes.
Disabled facilities: Accessible.