After a week’s self imposed quarantine due to a poorly Little Dude we had some major cabin fever and were raring to get out. The perfect way to celebrate getting rid of his virus was a trip to check out the street food on offer at the Boilershop Steamer.
The monthly event is held in the atmospheric building where Robert Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ steam locomotive was born.
Playing a big part in Newcastle’s food revolution the Steamer features a select group of the best street food vendors as well as a gin bar and locally brewed real ales.
We’ve been to the Steamer before but not since Toon Lunch Club was born so it seemed about time to put that right. The Mr was busy doing the day job so my friend EA decided to come along for the ride.
LD and I met up with EA who was fresh from the hairdresser and looking stylish as ever. She wanted to check out the Steamer with a view to maybe taking part in future as she runs Afternoon Tea Anywhere, delivering delicious cakes, scones and sandwiches across the North East.
Entry to the Steamer is £5 but free before 2pm on Saturdays. The place has more of a family vibe during the day and at night receives an influx of those looking for a fun night out when the live music starts.
The hardest thing at the Steamer is choosing what to have. This month’s food line up was a cracker with new guys travelling from further afield like Halfa Halfa (Liverpool) and Zouk Tea Bar (Manchester).
My friend EA headed straight for the Mac Shack and grabbed a taster pot of Mac n cheese (£2). It was freshly made, topped with spring onions, herbs and EA said although the pasta was a little overcooked it was creamy and satisfying (£4 gets you a ‘big pot’ and you can add toppings like chorizo, bacon and crawfish for an extra £2).
You pay with tokens at the Steamer which are worth £2 each, making it feel like you’re not really spending money! Most of it is relatively good value although I have a feeling the token system means you possibly pay a little more/get a little less than you normally would.
I headed for Barrio Comida having heard good things about the guys who used to run Trial Shift. They started off mixing Asian and Mexican influences but as Chef Shaun Hurrell, the Californian half of the partnership told me they now focus purely on Mexican cuisine. He couldn’t get decent soft tacos in the North East so he thought he’d do it himself. For £6 you get 2 tacos and I plumped for Al Pastor (charcoal roast pork, pineapple and salsa verde) and Mole (chilli chicken, queso fresco and radish). I also grabbed a hibiscus iced tea (£2).
We grabbed the end of one of the long wooden tables, quite possibly the last seats in the place. EA got roped into feeding LD his lunch while I tucked into the tacos. The chicken taco was generously filled with succulent chicken which was well flavoured but not spicy (there’s optional hot sauce for chilli fans) and the radish added crunch. The queso fresco (a creamy unaged white cheese which tastes similar to cottage cheese) was a bit too mild tasting for me, I would’ve liked some guacamole on there instead or a more salty cheese.
The pork taco was my favourite. The meat is cooked on a giant kebab shop esque spit with half a pineapple on top and carved to order. It was chargrilled to perfection and with the addition of pineapple and the herby, citrusy salsa verde it was a triumph of flavours. The hibiscus tea was a deliciously refreshing drink, just sweet enough with lots of ice and a wedge of lime.
We got chatting to the people at our table, which is part of the fun of the Steamer – sharing tables and food while soaking up the atmosphere.
Next I wanted to try out Halfa Halfa’s Middle Eastern influenced street food. These guys are from Liverpool and this was their first time at the Steamer. I went for some of their sweet potato fries topped with tahini, pine nuts and Halfa spices. The adventurous flavour combo worked quite well for me but EA is a sweet potato purist and found the sauce a bit unnecessary, but loved the fries themselves. LD was looking at them longingly so he had his first ever (sweet potato) fry and was also a big fan!
I couldn’t leave without having something sweet and I’ve been dying to try out The Donut Guy for a while now. You choose how many of the mini donuts you want (£2 for 2) then your topping and sauce. I went for salted caramel and pecans.
Freshly cooked while you wait, these were no fairground grease balls. Light, fluffy dough balls dusted in sugar and topped with heavenly salted caramel and crushed pecans. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I think there was some cinnamon and nutmeg in there too (so subtle). They were up there for me with Bread Ahead’s pillows of doughy delight, which we sampled recently in London. Definitely the best I’ve had in the North East.
We were pretty full by this point but were intrigued by The Naked Geordies and wanted to grab a slice of their guilt free confections to take home. I grabbed a ‘raw snickers’ and EA a piece of carrot cake. These ladies make raw, vegan, healthy yet delicious treats. I mean, how good do these cakes look?
Having experimented with sugar and dairy free for myself and the lactose intolerant Mr I was keen to try these guys out.
I saved my snickers bar for later and had it with a cuppa. It had gone little bit squidgy but still held its shape relatively well and more importantly tasted great. Made with gluten free oats, cashews, almond flour, dates, peanut butter, coconut, cacao and agave it was a healthy alternative that actually tasted like a treat. EA wasn’t as big a fan of the carrot cake, reporting that she thought it tasted ‘like baby food.’ Oh dear, one out of two ain’t bad! Maybe some things take a bit of getting used to!
We had a great afternoon at the Boilershop Steamer, if you haven’t been get yourself down to the next one (2nd & 3rd October). I’ll definately be back to try some of the other vendors, the line up changes monthly but expect the likes of The Asian Project, Claw Hide and the Crema Caravan‘s ‘burnt to order’ creme brûlée, which I’m definitely going to try next time! Something to look forward to…
The Boilershop Steamer takes place in Stephensons Building on Sussex Road, Newcastle on the first weekend of every month. Food and music lineups are announced closer to the time, keep an eye on their Facebook page for details.