Since it opened its doors earlier in the year, I have wanted to visit The Herb Garden’s sister restaurant down on the marina in North Shields. Unfortunately other things always seemed to get in the way. With a week off and no plans I decided to stop by during a back-to-school shopping trip with The Teen for a spot of lunch at this picturesque location.
One deterrent had been the lack of menu on the website. While its Newcastle establishment has its range of pizzas and salads advertised, I had no clue what was on offer here. Given its nautical location, were our finned friends going to be on the plate? With my dietary requirements it is a risky business rocking up to any restaurant and expecting to be accommodated, although I felt on safe ground as The Herb Garden have always been pretty good at a labelled menu and adapting dishes on request. I’ve subsequently discovered these are on the Facebook page, but putting them on the internet may be more beneficial for general public who don’t rely on social media.
With a neighbourhood cafe feel, we tried to sit outside on the decked area but the wind was too bracing for us. I think it is safe to say the Summer is over and it is now time to don the 60 denier tights and thick jumpers! I can imagine on sunny days it is extremely popular with those wanting a glass of something chilled while watching the boats sail by.
Breakfasts appear to be served all day, which is great news for those who like to languish in their pits until after lunch. Dishes like Shakshuka, Omlettes, the interesting sounding Coconut & Quinoa Porridge (SFV and GF), and a Full English mean it will be popular with those who live in the surrounding quayside houses for a leisurely weekend brunch.
The Teen was resolute on his choice of Mediterranean Meatball (£8.95 with wedges), while I enquired as to whether their Beetroot & Red Lentil Burger (£12) was suitable for vegans. I paid a supplement to have sweet potato wedges added to his sandwich. There was a vegan Superfood Salad on offer and the Israeli Sabich sounded delicious, but I was in the mood for something more substantial.
There was a delay on the lunch arriving as the restaurant was quite busy when we arrived. While we were in no rush other diners were complaining about the wait.
His sandwich was not served in the ‘warm crusty baguette’ billed on the menu but a flatbread. This wouldn’t have been so much of an issue had his meatballs not made numerous attempts at freedom by launching themselves out of the flimsy bread and onto the table. One even ended up on the floor!
My burger was similarly difficult to eat. When I picked up the bun the patty disappointingly fell to pieces, meaning a knife and fork was necessary. That said, it was a nice combination and the tomato relish it was served with also worked well. Worth £12 though? Perhaps not.
While the wedges served as a side on my plank were greasy, I’d have preferred more than the four I was given. The prices were definitely towards the premium end of the scale, possibly on account of the views.
Because of the wait we decided to skip desserts – although it was good to see they had a vegan pud on the menu – and paid the bill. The total came to a not-so-insignificant £27 with our soft drinks.
On reflection I think some of my disappointment stemmed from the fact the restaurant is not The Herb Garden Mark II. The Teen had wanted pizza and it was nowhere to be seen. If I’d known it cafe-style food ahead of time I’d have managed our expectations. There wasn’t a lot inherently wrong, minor niggles aside, but the execution could have been better given the price tag. Perhaps this was on account of their busy spell? Popping in for coffee and cake might be a more purse-friendly way of enjoying the view for those not wanting an all-day breakfast or ‘posh’ sandwiches.
Thanks for reading,