In the Summer my lovely friends organised a few treats for my birthday and, as they know I love afternoon teas and food in general, focused on this. I had a disappointing experience at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant in Newcastle during one of the surprises – which you can read about here – and was in two minds about whether I’d ever revisit. My overwhelming feeling was that vegetarians and vegans were poorly catered for at this steakhouse and if that was the attitude towards those with dietary requirements that was their prerogative. I appreciate that some restaurants – especially those with a focus on meat – might not think or feel that veggies will be interested in dining there, to which I say that not all families are like ours! I’m often asked where caters well for everyone, so offering a decent non-meat menu is advisable to all eateries these days.
I was reassured that while MPW don’t have a huge selection of food on offer to those who don’t eat meat, they are more than happy to accommodate with notice. Again, this was something we’d done when booking my afternoon tea so was sceptical about whether advance warning would make any difference. With my meat-eating friend in tow I decided to give the restaurant a second chance, however. I’d eaten a three course meal there back in May 2016 with a Living Social Voucher and had loved the food, although I did feel the portions were on the diddy side! I wanted to be really wowed to make up for my spoilt birthday tea.With a Festive Dinner available for £32.50 per person, we grabbed a cocktail in the bar before heading through to the dining room.
I was not expecting to be handed a vegan menu and to have a choice of dishes, so was impressed from the offset this had been considered. I’ll admit that my veggie and vegan readers will probably raise a wry smile that the main course options were curry and couscous and a dessert of sorbet, especially after my chastisement of The Treehouse in Alnwick for offering similar!
I opted for the Pear, Walnut and Beetroot Salad to start, which arrived prettily presented. It was an incredibly small portion though, and I was sat twiddling my thumbs while L ate her deliciously creamy Onion, Cider and Apple Soup. I was expecting a few more leaves, or maybe if MPW served bread in the way Jesmond Dene House do I might not have felt so hard done by. That said, the starter itself was tasty. I asked what the walnuts had been candied in for fear it was honey, but was assured they were vegan-friendly.
The main of Thai-style Vegetable Curry was aromatically warming. Served with rice and a flat bread it was filling too, which meant the restrained starter portion size was forgiven. L’s Turkey Breast with all the trimmings was enjoyed thoroughly by her. The meat was not dry as it sometimes can be, and the vegetables were cooked well with not a soggy sprout in sight.
By this point we were both flagging, but I felt compelled to try the vegan Christmas Pudding as opposed to the lighter sorbet option. This was the first time I have ever tried this festive delicacy, truth be told! As a child I was never keen on its boozy quality, so my mother allowed me to abstain from eating. She would make me a sherry-free Trifle instead, which I make for my own family to this day.Served with a raspberry gel instead of the listed Cherry Compote, I immediately enquired what had been used to set it after my experience last time round. Agar-agar was the response. Phew, no gelatin! I personally found the pud too dense, especially after eating a large main course, but it was good to see a traditional dish being adapted for vegans and those with an intolerance to dairy or egg.
The Spiced Carrot Cake dessert was recommended to L by the gentleman dining at the table beside us. While she wasn’t keen on the candied carrot it was accompanied by, she said the cake was light and moist.
The whole meal was a far more pleasant affair than the last time round, with their staff hospitable and knowledgeable on what the dishes contained. With drinks the bill was just under £85, which I felt was reasonable at this time of year. I was pleased I’d returned, and I hope anyone else who was deterred by my poor experience also gives MPW a second chance. They seem to cater better for vegans than I’d anticipated, which makes it a great option if dining out with family members who eat meat. Don’t forget to look out for special deals they have, especially in the New Year, which will save you a bit of money if the belts are tighter!
Thanks for reading,