The more I blog about food in the region the more interested I’ve become in trends, in cookery and about the thriving local scene we have here in the North East. We now have two Michelin star restaurants and some really exciting and unique places to eat (Cook House, Riley’s Fish Shack and Barrio Comida to name but a few). I also wanted to know more about the training side of the industry, and I was happy to be asked to pop along to Enfields in Gateshead to see what the new breed of chef currently in training were cooking up.
This restaurant is housed within Gateshead College’s Quayside campus and operates bookings for lunch 3 days of the week (Tues, Wed and Friday) and dinner service on a Thursday between 6:30 and 9:30pm. The idea is to give hospitality students hands-on experience of what a restaurant is like, and this tradition which will stand them in good stead when it comes to employment opportunities once they graduate.
When booking I specified my dietary requirements and was pleased to say I was accommodated with a 3 course vegan menu devised by the students. I think this kind of experience is important for them as once they start working in kitchens and following their chosen career path they will meet many folks who are vegan, dairy free, etc.
The dishes sounded appealing, especially the promise of vegan meringue for pud. My dining companion was given the standard menu which featured an array of choices for each course. He opted for Pate as a starter, Cumberland Sausage for main course and a Summer Berry Pudding for dessert.Enfields is also fully licensed. As I was driving I didn’t partake in a glass of vino but there was a decent selection. Expect to pay no more than 12 for a bottle. I raised the issue of labelling SFV and vegetarian wines on their menu and this is something that has been taken on board. I think this is a common oversight but it was good to see a venue actually taking on board the reasons why it is so important when dining out to have this provision.The bread basket came round and my friend was given fresh Focaccia bread that had been made in their kitchens. I couldn’t eat this as it contained dairy and was given an alternative. Starters arrived and my Beet Carpaccio was elegantly plated. The different types of beetroot used – Boltardy, Choiggia, etc. – and the piquancy of the capers created a plate of food that wasn’t as earthy as anticipated. The Chicken Liver Pate got a thumbs up from my friend, and the sealing with butter ensured it was as decadently rich as it ought to be. With Melba Toast points and a mixed leaf salad which was dressed with the Cumberland Sauce accompanying it was a substantial starter.My main of Sumac and chilli coated Roast Cauliflower was a hearty dish too. Sitting on a bed of chickpeas and spinach, with a side plate of fresh flatbread and a salad, it was enough to have me rolling back to the car. The portion sizes were definitely not to be complained about, that’s for sure!The Cumberland Sausage was a good quality banger. I’d be interested to know if the students had been hands-on in making these from scratch. It didn’t take him long to clear the plate and declare that he was mighty impressed with the ambiance and the food on offer at Enfields.My dessert was executed perfectly and I want a masterclass on how to make vegan meringues. I’ve yet to perfect the alchemy of making perfect nests from just chickpea water and sugar. The Raspberry Sorbet managed to be both creamy and light, and the jewels of pomegranate and strawberry added a tangy element to the plate.The Summer Fruit Pudding my dining companion had was also spot on. The jammy sauce and vanilla ice cream were a lovely accompaniment.
It’s hard to believe that Enfields charge a mere £10.95 for this exceptional quality dinner service. Their Table d’hote lunch is a mere £6. We were both full of praise for the service and for the dishes we’d ate. If this is the future of dining in the North East then we have a lot to look forward to. The quote outside from culinary legend Auguste Escoiffer is definitely evidenced within the kitchen and on the tables of this restaurant. Enfields will be closed during the summer months but will reopen again at the start of the new term in September. I shall definitely return but suspect I’ll have to book in fast.
Thanks for reading,