It’s not often you think about Gateshead and associate it with fine dining. I was born and bred here, so this in no way comes from snobbery about the area! Durham Road historically – for me, at least – has been a sea of takeaways and so-so eateries. There are some great little cafes for a lunchtime bite or weekend breakfasts but, with the notable exceptions of Rosa Twelve and Fell’s Kitchen, we’ve never been that keen to eat to venture along the road and sample what’s available ‘on the Fell’.
We were not surprised to hear about Vivere closing after we’d experienced borderline rude service on our visit. We were redeeming a Living Social voucher, that’s true, but we still were paying customers. The food was actually decent, but found it hard to accept the attitude of the staff we’d encountered. You can read about it here, and how it lead me to vow never buy a voucher like that again.
News of Vivere’s replacement 1964, a family-run establishment with a passion for using local and seasonal produce, was met with scepticism in some of the local ‘foodie’ groups I’m part of. The board outside did little to boost my confidence too. Having enjoyed The Patricia recently in Jesmond, I was keen to support another independent opening, especially on my own doorstep, and booked in regardless. There was a vegetarian option on the Dinner Menu but no mention about catering for dietary requirements, so I sent them a message on Facebook. I was told they’d create a special menu for us, stating that they don’t normally get a huge demand for vegan dishes. I’d say the situation is chicken and egg; if you don’t mention it on your website, punters may be put off asking! We were happy enough to give them some notice, especially as it meant we could book a babysitter and have a long overdue date night.
The interior wasn’t overly different to its predecessor, aside from the ‘history of Low Fell’ frieze on one of the walls. It was quite interesting to read as we were waiting for our starters. Did you know that a house in Low Fell was the first in the world to have working light bulbs? One of the surprises at 1964 was having two options offered for Starters, Mains and Desserts on our specially created Vegan Menu. One of the fears of transitioning over to a plant-based diet myself was how brief my posts would be on account of both myself and the Mr. having to eat exactly the same thing.
I opted for the Cauliflower while Mr. Canny chose the Tomato Soup. We were pleased to see vegan spread offered alongside the warm homemade bread rolls, something often overlooked in restaurants. My starter was enjoyable, with the tart and crispy apple working well against the creamy cauliflower and walnuts.
His soup was far from flat, with a slight tang detectable. My portion was significantly dwarfed by his, and I stole a bread roll from him while waiting for him to finish slurping.
Mains arrived, with my Ratatouille and herb infused couscous (yes, I did groan slightly) served in a hollowed out aubergine.
Packed with peppers, artichokes, aubergines and tomatoes, the Ratatouille was made utilising the ingredients from both of our dishes. Substantial and well presented, I enjoyed my main course.
Mr. Canny’s main of Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke was not as expected at all. A croquette served on a creamy sauce, it showed off the chef’s background and training in hotels and pubs further afield. I’d be interested in knowing what was used for the coating in lieu of egg, but I shall save that line of questioning for the next time we visit.
Our two dessert choices featured the standard sorbet – served with Poached Pears and made from Champagne, thus a step above what we usually encounter – and a Soy Milk Panna Cotta. The Mr. had enjoyed something similar at the Michelin-starred House of Tides during an anniversary meal, so was keen to try out 1964’s version. After a filling main we decided to share this rather than having one each. The pudding had just the right amount of wibble when loaded onto the spoon but feel it could have been served differently to fully appreciate every mouthful. The plum sorbet and shortbread were also nice additions to the dish.
Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the food served up at 1964 and would definitely return. We were told that we’d probably experience something totally different on a revisit on account of the specially created menu on our behalf. As a new venture service doesn’t seem to be as polished as it could be, and have spoken to the team about this. It would not deter me from recommending on account of the consideration shown in producing a bespoke offer and hope that others will follow suit and give 1964 a try soon.
Thanks for reading,