Colonel Cuts the Mustard

Ever heard of Colonel Porter? Apparently he invented Newcastle Brown Ale in the 1920’s and travelled around the world distributing it. We paid a visit to the “Tavern, Botanical Garden and Rhum Bar” named after him to check out the grub on offer.

Anyone who follows this blog will know that we’re fans of good, honest food. Mr Toon Lunch Club has recently started following a Keto diet, which involves a lot of green veg, healthy fat and low carbs – a bit like Atkins. Apparently it can cure all manner of illnesses and has given him a lot more energy, which is especially great given that we now have two kiddies to run around after! It does mean that eating out is a little trickier though.
Colonel Porter’s Emporium has a menu that features a smattering of small plates and sharing boards as well as more traditional main courses and fancy sandwiches. The small plates sounded perfect for those following a Keto diet so Mr TLC was looking forward to our visit.
The interior of Colonel Porter’s is eclectic to say the least. We really liked the vibe, especially with the Great Gatsby-esque twenties music playing.
We were seated at a booth close to the secret bar. It’s called Archie’s lab, named after the head brewer who worked on Newcastle Brown Ale in secret with Colonel Porter and can be accessed via a bookcase. It wasn’t hidden during our visit as they had a function going on but it’s a nice little touch.
We ordered our drinks, I went for a strawberry daiquiri because it would be rude not to order something with ‘rhum’ in it.
We went for a selection of small plates (£5 each or 3 for £12) and a sharing board, so we could all dive in tapas-stylee. Little Dude chose “cheesy pasta” (macaroni cheese served with french fries & cucumber, £5) and as Little Miss is only three months old milk was all she needed to keep her happy.
First to come was sauteed baby squid with chorizo, courgette & pesto. We’d just been talking about samphire and how we hadn’t had any for ages when this bowl turned up, with plenty of samphire in it. The squid was cooked just right and complemented beautifully by the greens and chorizo. It was properly spicy chorizo too, so little chunks of it were enough!

Next we tried the rump steak skewers with green peppercorn sauce and oh my god were they good! Tender strips of good quality rump meat were covered in a beautiful sauce. Simple but oh so delicious! Even LD was a fan.

Marinated courgettes with goats curd, lemon, rocket & toasted pine nuts were beautifully presented and tasted exquisite. Something as simple as a good marinade can turn the humble courgette into a thing of beauty, when the pickling is done right. Goats curd and a simple salad were the perfect accompaniments, not since our trip to Vallum Farm have I had such a good goats cheese salad.

The Mr’s favourite was the Moroccan lamb meatballs in a tomato, fennel, cumin & coriander sauce. These were the sort that melted in your mouth and brought back memories of holidays in Greece (we’ve been to Morocco too, but these balls definitely tasted like slow cooked Greek food to us!)

Hoisin chicken wings with spring onion, radish & sesame had a delicious sticky coating and were succulent. Smoked Haddock & leek macaroni cheese bites had a good hit of smoky fish, with the cheesy goodness of pasta and a crumb coating.

Mac and cheese

LD was happily tucking into his mac & cheese, which came with fries and child-friendly cucumber sticks and was more than generous for a kids portion!

We were extremely impressed with the quality of food coming out of the kitchen, so we asked the waiter who the Head Chef was. “Oh, we call him Kenco – do you want to meet him?” was the answer.

Kenco turned out to be Anthony Ender, a chef who five years ago by his own admission “couldn’t cook” and started out as a barista (hence the nickname Kenco). Chris Finnigan (formerly head chef of Branches Ponteland and Lane 7) trained him before handing the reigns over to Kenco permanently. It just goes to show that if you’re passionate about something and you put enough effort in you can do just about anything. Watch this space as Kenco is a force to be reckoned with!

We rounded things off with Porters House Board – a selection of cured meats, chicken liver pate, roasted padron peppers, black pudding bhajis, french fries, brown ale bread, pickles, fries & dips (£20). Great quality charcuterie alongside great cooking made for some perfect nibbles. I could imagine this working very well when shared with friends over a few drinks.

Last but not least – desserts. LD had a selection of ice creams (£3) and I went for Black Forest Cheesecake -Vanilla cheesecake, cherry compote, whipped cream (£4.95). It’s hard to find fault with a meal so expertly prepared, and the cheesecake was no exception. Beautifully presented, delicious and a great way to end a very enjoyable meal.

We were very impressed with Colonel Porter’s, clearly the staff know what they’re doing both inside and outside the kitchen. They have offers like bottomless prosecco and nibbles from 5pm – 7pm (£25) and ‘spin the wheel’ drinks offers to tempt the drinking crowd, but really this place is worth a visit for the food alone. Go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

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We were provided with a complimentary meal for the purposes of this review, however as always the opinions expressed in this article are honest and true to experience. 

Colonel Porter’s Emporium

Milburn House, Dean Street, NE1 1LF

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