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Review: Sambuca, Pavilion at Heaton Park, Newcastle

IF YOU visit Heaton Park, you will arrive at the impressive Pavilion which is now home to Sambuca’s restaurant.

Cafe Sambuca Italian Restaurant in the Pavilion, Heaton Park, Newcastle

IF YOU visit Heaton Park, you will arrive at the impressive Pavilion which is now home to Sambuca’s restaurant.

When we got there, the restaurant was already filling up with families – always a good sign.

Many places claim they welcome children, but don’t always accommodate the crayoning classes. However, Sambuca goes that extra-special mile to make the children feel part of the dining experience.

History buffs will know (especially if they’ve been reading Tony Henderson’s fascinating reports in The Journal of late) that Heaton Park was the back garden of Heaton Hall, built in 1713 and demolished in 1933.

It was originally the countryside residence of Newcastle merchant Richard Ridley, whose descendant Sir Matthew White Ridley commissioned leading architect William Newton to upgrade the building in the 1770s.

When the Ridleys moved to Blagdon Hall in Northumberland, Heaton Hall was taken over by brewer Addison Potter who gave his name to a local pub, the Addison Hotel, which survived until 1969. Fast forward to 2012 and we now have a park which has been splendidly spruced up and a grand entrance from the Heaton Road side.

Sambuca (which is a rapidly expanding restaurant chain) has spotted the opportunities in Heaton Park and opened a new eaterie in the East End of Newcastle.

We had booked, which is advisable. We were loudly greeted by a very friendly manager, who kept the food orders running very smoothly all night.

Spotting we had two youngsters in tow, the staff were extra attentive and patient.

Inside the restaurant, which is relatively small, the atmosphere is relaxed and the service friendly and unobtrusive. The emphasis at this place is on good value and having a good time – which is just what our party wanted.

Sambuca offers a vast array of starters, ranging from £1.50 to £4.95, with plenty of vegetarian options.

And for the main course there is a huge choice of pizzas, pastas, chicken, steak and fish dishes.

Pizza dishes start at £2.50, pasta from £3.95, chicken dishes from £7.95 and steaks from £10.50.

I had the perfectly made chicken liver homemade pate (£2.90). Parents tried the crispy squid served with a garlic mayonnaise (£3.95) and the avocado with prawns for mum (£3.20).

The squid was ample and it looked and tasted good. The avocado with prawns was also a huge portion and hit the mark.

The children tried garlic bread with cheese (£1.50) and potato skins with dips (£2.50). They were satisfied customers.

For mains, I was happy to play safe, and went for the pizza lucifera (£3.95) with pepperoni and chillies. It had a great flavour, but it was a little too crispy for me around the edges.

Dad tried chicken cacciatore with onions, peppers, garlic, olives, tomato and red wine (£7.95). He is quite fussy, but really enjoyed the sauce which had a good kick to it.

The chicken was cooked brilliantly and the sauce was sumptuous. The thick, hand-cut chips also went down a treat.

Mum enjoyed a vegetarian pasta dish (£3.95) and could not fault it.

The oldest child opted for a pizza margherita of tomato sauce (£2.50) topped with melted mozzarella, with a crispy base, while a child’s portion of pasta carbonara for the youngest was demolished.

Only one adult and one child could manage a dessert and they enjoyed a banana split between them complete with ice cream, cream and sprinkles (£2.95).

The restaurant continued to fill up and by the time we left the queue was out of the door and this was a midweek night. Pretty impressive.

There was a real buzz about the place, perfect for a night out.

This is an able kitchen which turns out well-made food and charges very reasonable prices.

We are all feeling the pinch at the moment, so the happy hour prices keep the cost of a family outing down.

The chicken was cooked brilliantly and the sauce was sumptuous. The thick, hand-cut chips also went down a treat.

 

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