With the recent explosion of chain restaurants in Newcastle (Not hating, just stating), it’s good to see independent restaurants still opening their doors.
Shilling is one of the latest additions to the Newcastle Quayside, offering ‘nose to tail dining and drinking’. From a cooking perspective, this means they use as much of the animal as possible throughout the menu, offering a wide selection of meat based dishes.
Shilling is not the first restaurant to have occupied the listed building, having previously housed an Italian restaurant (Rumpoli’s Italian Kitchen) and a Mexican restaurant (Nachos).
All of the influences from the previous endeavours have left a strange mash of styles inside, from Italian themed columns to the walls that could be straight out of Zapatista. It’s a funky venue, packed full of character which I love!
I love all the quirky influences from previous restaurants. They make a really interesting and varied eatery. Who knew you could cram so much character into one building!
Stylish Downstairs Bar
Downstairs bar area
We opted to eat upstairs as this is the option for more formal evening dining and was a pleasant setting with a great view of Sandhill.
Dining area upstairs
We headed to Shilling on a Thursday evening at 7:30 pm. The upstairs restaurant opens at 5 pm at the moment and offers an a la carte menu. As I began with, Shilling is a nose to tail style restaurant, which they explain on the menu…
“Much like our downstairs food menu, our a la carte offering combines classic, honest food with new, creative dishes.
Taking inspiration from the traditional Northern ethos of exploiting every part of the animal, our nose to tail approach means that we endeavour to use all of not just the meat that we source, but also the fruit and vegetables. This allows us to provide a truly unique, sustainable dining experience.
For guidance on any of our dishes, our servers will be happy to help. Enjoy.”
The menu certainly has a great selection of dishes – all of which appealed to me. The prices certainly aren’t unreasonable given the quality of the food, the portion size and the fantastic location/venue.
Our server for the evening was extremely friendly and helpful in guiding us through the menu and offering up some recommendations. I decided on this occasion to go with his recommendations as inside tips are usually the best.
For my starter I opted for what I was told was one of the chefs personal favourites, the Cauliflower soup. Probably not something that would normally jump off the menu for me, but after tasting it, I was glad I took their suggestion.
This is one of the nicest bowls of soups I’ve had in a long time and given the icy weather at the moment, a brilliant winter warmer. The hearty soup is creamy, with small pieces of pickled cauliflower florets mixed in for a bit of crunch and sharpness to the dish.
The foam, walnut oil and cress finished it off nicely, and if I’m in town again on a cold day, I will head back for a bowl of this alone.
For main, I once again followed our server’s suggestion and tried the Beef Sirloin, Braised Ox Tail, Tarragon Mash, Honeyed Parsnip, Baby Turnip and Jus. I was informed that the specific beef used in the dish could only be purchased at Shillings, House of Tides and Jesmond Dene House.
When I ordered the dish, I was somewhat expecting a large piece of steak, with trimming on the side, so was a little surprised when I was presented with this absolute masterpiece.
The quality of the presentation made me feel bad for eating it, but then I’d have very little to write about. Needless to say, the medium sirloin was incredible. Cooked to perfection and full of flavour.
All of the different elements of the dish worked perfectly together, with the al dente vegetables giving a sweet, earthy taste and the rich jus exploding with flavour.
The fried potato balls, stuffed with slow cooked beef were a great accompaniment too and went perfectly with the jus. There wasn’t a single part of the dish I didn’t enjoy.
All of the flavours and textures on the plate came together to make one of the nicest dishes I’ve probably ever had. It makes me question how sirloin should be served.
I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that Shilling is one of the most refreshing and quality dining experiences I’ve had in quite some time. It’s incredible to see the passion and attention to detail that the team is putting into the business, from the drinks to the dishes.
I will certainly be going back to check out the cocktails and bar snacks, which I have no doubt will live up to the meal we enjoyed.
The excellent location, friendly staff and obvious passion for food have produced what is undoubtedly going to become one of Newcastle’s biggest foodie hotspots.
On a side not they’ve got a menu for the upcoming Newcastle Restaurant Week, which I would highly recommend anyone to try.