There are some local groups on Facebook that are great for keeping up to date on what’s happening in certain areas of the North East. One I’m part of pertains to the comings and goings on Chillingham Road in Heaton and its surrounding streets. I’ve said many times I’m quite envious of people who live in an area where there are a plethora of ‘neighbourhood’ restaurants to chose from. While we have Staiths Cafe and the Central Bar not too far from our house, we certainly don’t have the selection those in Heaton have.
One newly opened restaurant that seemed to be creating a local buzz is Rossini. Housed above a betting shop and Greggs hardly instills the greatest of confidences, so when you walk in to such a grand interior you can’t help but be taken aback. Twinkly chandeliers and its vast dining space give a head-nod to its previous life as a dance hall. It was not what I was expecting at all, in a good way.
Upon being handed the menu I asked immediately about what was suitable for those with dietary requirements such as my own. If I ordered the pizza without cheese, for example, was the base going to be suitable? Was the Vegetable Risotto made using only vegetable stock? Our friendly waitress said she’d ask. A menu with allergens marked might have helped avoid the 20 questions. Do they have gluten or egg free pasta available? I don’t know. This sort of information printed up would be beneficial. It’s a new venture though, so hopefully this feedback will be taken on board.
The drinks arrived and we were asked if we were ready to order. I reiterated my query as to whether dairy or egg products were in what I wanted to eat and she disappeared from the table. The waiter came over and enquired whether we needed more time and I mentioned that we’d asked what was suitable for vegans and had no response. He said that the kitchen could make something to order avoiding the products I don’t eat. Finally!
My friend was able to choose from the incredibly cheap Happy Hour Menu, which offers 3 courses for just £5.95. This is available Monday to Saturday between 12-5pm. It ‘jumps’ to £6.95 between 5-6:30pm, but is good value for money for families watching the pennies. As my options were limited I couldn’t take advantage of this deal, and I found the prices were on a par with other Italian restaurants in the area without the benefit of Happy Hour.
I started with Bruschetta while Laura had Potato Skins. Both were generous portion sizes, especially for a lunch.
Our mains weren’t too far behind, with Laura’s Lasagne resembling Vesuvius with its molten sauce bubbling away as it arrived at the table.
My Risotto was packed with vegetables and was incredibly filling. Using vegetable stock with Arborio rice can create a silky risotto without the need to finish with cream, butter or cheese, so I’m hoping that’s exactly what the chefs of Rossini did during my visit. I have to put my confidence in them that they accommodated as requested.
I don’t know how others in a similar boat feel about the issue of dietary requirements, but I am always wary when I’ve experienced something like this. In a world where people have life threatening allergies restaurants need to be careful how seriously they take requests such as my own. My disclaimer on any of the dishes I ordered is I was told they were suitable for vegans. If you have a dairy or egg allergy and are planning to visit Rossini it might be worth having a conversation with staff before booking. Many would say we just shouldn’t eat out at all if we’re going to be ‘fussy’, but how unfair is that? Kitchen staff should be able to tell you exactly what is in the dish you are eating by law now. I will give Rossini the benefit of doubt though, which is why I’m still upbeat about my experience there and would probably return again.
Laura finished off her meal with a small bowl of chocolate ice cream and we settled the bill. With drinks the meal was under £20 for the two of us, which is good value by anyone’s standards. It is definitely family friendly and I’d imagine it will be packed as more find out about the restaurant in due course.
Thanks for reading.