SIX is a restaurant with undoubted wow factor. Named due to its rooftop perch on the sixth floor of the iconic modern art gallery, it offers breathtaking views of the River Tyne and the Newcastle cityscape.
It’s certainly a room with a heady view. And the ladies loos must surely offer some of the best views in the North East. Floor-to-ceiling windows by the washbasins offer dramatic, sweeping views up the Tyne.
The three of us – out for a sneaky Friday lunch – were delighted to see the restaurant was busy, many diners no doubt combining a meal with a tour of the exhibits of the Turner Prize finalists.
Our trio had already seen the artwork on a previous visit and were busy chewing the fat over the merits of this artist and that artist whilst working through a bowl of good white bread, warm and crusty.
Our table was well positioned just by the floor-to-ceiling window, with its bird’s eye views of the river, Newcastle Quayside and the Millennium Bridge.
The food on offer is Modern British, fresh and seasonal, and looked to be at its imaginative best.
The Daily Specials menu looked especially tempting at two courses for £14 and three courses, £18.
I opted from this menu, while my two companions ummed and aahed over the a la carte.
We drank wines by the glass, and noted there was a very good choice on offer. It was Prosecco (Vetriano, Italy) for me, £ 5.95 per 125ml, a pinot noir 2009 (L’Aristocrate, France), £5.10 for 175ml and light Sauvignon Blanc 2010, (Finca El Picador, Chile) £5.10 for 175ml, for our friend who was nursing a hangover from the previous evening’s excesses.
Our starters arrived and so artistic looking were they that someone quipped they were worthy of a Turner prize.
My smoked mackerel pate with croutons, beetroot and chutney, £4, looked fresh and appetising; the pate was smooth, soft and creamy, full of fishy flavour with a hint of lemon, and contrasted beautifully with the paper-thin slices of toasty white bread, which I obligingly piled high.
Starter of venison Scotch egg with red wine mayonnaise, £7.50, was deemed ‘a very nice egg’, the yolk runny, the venison encasing it, deliciously crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The pink-tinged mayo was piquant, artfully drizzled around the plate, and perfect for dipping.
Another starter dish of smoked trout, with horseradish cream and beetroot, £8.50, had a delightful pinky tinge and was delicately smoky, the horseradish, a subtle condiment, not too overpowering, all accompanied by a tangle of curly frisee and mixed leaves.
Starters prepared with care and attention-to-detail – and all big on taste. We were impressed.
The weather was pretty dreary, grey and overcast this particular day, but a happy burr had descended on our table.
The restaurant’s decor is simple, modern, very pared back in style; huge picture windows, black wicker chairs, wooden floors, no tablecloths, and a few leafy plants dotted about.
I guess the idea being the views are all – so the restaurant does not want to detract from those. Although one companion did say he found the restaurant slightly on the noisy side and echoey.
The mellow mood continued when the mains arrived. My choice of pan-fried salmon, puy lentils, root vegetable puree and red wine jus, £10, was appealing on the eye, an interesting plate of colours and textures.
The salmon fillet, pinky flesh perfectly cooked, with crispy skin, surrounded by deliciously crunchy lentils, dark green in colour with a slight peppery tang; the smudge of mustard-yellow root puree was so delicious and sweet, I could have tucked into so much more. Simply heavenly.
Across the table, game pie was small but perfectly formed, and accompanied by mash, and roasted root vegetables, £15.95.
The pie, completely encased in pastry, was packed full of venison chunks and pheasant and rabbit morsels.
It had a good, rich, gamey flavour with a dark meaty gravy, the accompanying mash was buttery and soft, the root vegetables as sweet as can be. A real winter warming dish.
Meanwhile, maple-glazed pork loin with squash sauce and apple and new potato salad, £10, was another satisfying dish. A lovely autumnal flavour to this one – and artistic presentation too. Our friend’s eyes nearly glazed over, the maple syrup a secondary note to the sweet meat, a substantial cut, which was firm and well cooked; squash sauce had a robust flavour, and the salad adding some crunch and contrast to the dish.
Two of us finished off with winter warming desserts of plum and honey crumble, with double milk ice-cream, £4, and sticky toffee pud with salted caramel, and vanilla ice-cream, £5.50.
Both were excellent, the crumble piping hot and served up in a small ramekin, the proportions half fruit to half crumble; always pleasing to get a good crumble topping; and this was sugary, spicy and crumbly, the soft plums both sweet and tangy. The ice-cream was notably good – our reviewer, a man of discerning taste, deemed it obviously home-made.
My sticky toffee pud was a hugely generous serving, home-made, rich and dark, the slightly salty caramel moat sauce surrounding it divine.
We were all agreed the dishes were prepared with skill and expertise, the presentation beautiful, but not a case of style over substance. And the Daily Specials menu offers terrific value for money.
This was seriously good food, and the setting elevates this into something of an experience.
It may be called Six but we reckoned it scored nine out of ten on this occasion.
Address: Six Restaurant, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead, NE8 3BA Tel: 0191 440 4948.
Open: Monday-Saturday, 12pm-2.30pm; Mon-Thur, 5.30pm-9.30pm; Fri and Sat, 5.30pm-10pm; Sunday 12pm-4pm.
First impressions: Elevated spot, with views of the river and Newcastle-Gateshead quaysides.
Welcome: Warm, friendly.
Style, design and furnishings: Modern space, clean lines, décor pared back, floor-to-ceiling windows, white tables, black wicker chairs.
Cuisine: Modern British at its best.
Service: Excellent. Staff were engaging, smiley and confident. Our waiter was knowledgeable about dishes and very charming too.
Value: Terrific value, especially for Daily Specials menu, with mains for £10 and starters and puds at £4.
Disabled facilities: Fully accessible.