As You Like It, which is part of the Apartment Group, has been somewhere I considered as a great date bar. Even when its busy I’ve managed to grab a table in some secluded corner, the cocktail menu is pretty good and with the twinkly lights and decor you can usually be swept up in a little gin-soaked romance with your amor. It has been such a long time between visits though, on account of being busy with the blog on the nights we were Jnr-free. AYLI was not somewhere I’d contemplated for ‘proper’ sit down scran, having previous experience of their burgers on a uni night or buffet food in the beautiful Frangipani function room only.
I’d been pleasantly surprised by The Joiners Arms last year, which is also part of the same group. Although there are similarities across their offerings ( I spotted the delicious Beef Bon Bons I had at The Joiners on the AYLI menu when I was considering booking), and you can tell the same design team do the decor in each establishment, the ambiance is completely different in some to others. I much prefer the Joiners to Liberty Brown, for example, and I’m definitely not the target audience for House of Smith or Madame Koo’s either.
One of the things I’d always appreciated about AYLI was the wide range of ages you get in on any given afternoon/night. High heeled and tanned glamour pusses rub shoulders at the bar with silver foxes, while dressed down students sit in booths beside families having an early evening meal. Set over three floors, our table was upstairs and, as I’d never ventured up there before, was pleasantly surprised by how large this dining area is. It also follows the pattern for being dimly lit, so I apologise for the quality of the photographs in advance.
I contacted ahead to discuss Mr. Canny’s requirements and was told that there was definitely something vegan on the menu he could eat. Once seated, we were given the wine list and he set about with his app trying to work out which wine he was able to quaff. Driving and pregnant, I opted for the Bubblegum Milkshake, which is a spin on my favourite AYLI cocktail – the Bubblegum Mojito. It’s amazing how gleeful a grown adult becomes presented with a packet of popping candy and proper ‘bubbly’! Admittedly it became a bit sickly after a while, meaning I limited myself to water for the rest of the evening. Boring 🙂 The wine list proved problematic for Mr. Canny and the slew of staff who tried to help, so he chose to drink beer instead.
The starter options were limited for him, although we found that the Veggie Lover Flat Bread (£6.95) was suitable with the cheese was removed. In fact, a lot of the dishes featured cheese from the Starter and Main selection, which is something worth considering if you’re also lactose intolerant. I picked the Chargrilled Goats Cheese (£6.50), which was served with a Focaccia ‘crouton’.
Based on the cheese to bread ratio, it was a good job we’d also asked for bread and olives so I had something as an accompaniment. The pickled beetroot was a nice touch, but could have done with a bit more too. Mr. Canny’s starter was well balanced between the sweetness of the pear and bitterness of the salad which topped it.
The staff were very attentive, it has to be said, even on a busy Friday night. We didn’t want for anything and our dishes arrived at a fairly steady pace. Special mention goes to James, the general manager, with whom we had a good chinwag with about dietary requirements and eating out in Newcastle.
I ordered the Pumpkin Tortellini (£11.95) for main course, which was served with roasted root vegetables. I found it difficult to eat due to my smaller appetite, which is one of the annoyances of being pregnant. Instead of eating for two I have to ‘graze’ throughout the day to avoid feeling stuffed. Walking up and down to the toilet every 15 minutes on account of the water I was drinking also didn’t help! Although it didn’t appear to be a large portion size, the creaminess of the sauce meant it was a filling dish.
Mr. Canny’s Thai Red Curry (£10.95) was an aromatic and spicy affair, served with just enough rice. If you are vegan, it may be worth letting the kitchen know in advance as there may be other dishes that can be adapted if you aren’t a fan of heat, which I’m not. There’s plenty on the menu to appeal to the meat eaters out there, with some tasty burgers and their extremely good Fish & Chips (another consistent across their menus).
We had an enjoyable Friday evening and left as the bar was starting to get busy. Alas we had no room for puds, and I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the options. The restaurant was packed out with couples enjoying date night, but I had a hotter date with a bubble bath and my pjs! Other Apartment Group establishments may miss the mark according to other bloggers, but AYLI is consistent for me with both grub and a good atmosphere.
Thanks for reading,
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