NE1 restaurant week gives you a chance to dine out Newcastle City Centre’s finest restaurants from only £10pp or £15pp. It is a great way to try new restaurants and find out if you like them. This time NE1 restaurant week coincided with our 18th wedding anniversary. We decided to treat ourselves and go out for an evening meal somewhere we hadn’t been. A lot of restaurants participate in restaurant week and we spent a lot of time going though the list before deciding where to go. It was a difficult choice to make and hard to decide which restaurants offered the best value.
During NE1 restaurant week last year we visited the Hop & Cleaver which is a bar and smoke house on the quayside. We have also been to the Coop chicken house which we enjoyed. We wanted to try something a little different this year and finally chose to go to El Coto Newcastle. This is a Spanish restaurant a few minutes walk from Eldon Square just behind St James Park. There is parking outside El Coto, it is free after 6.30pm. If you are drinking it is a few minutes walk to the local bus stations and the metro.
From the outside El Coto looks small but it has dining space over two floors. On entering the restaurant there is a bar area where you can enjoy a drink before your meal. We had booked a table and were quickly shown though to the dining area. The restaurant had a rustic feel with wooden ceiling beams and dark floors. Spanish painting are dotted around the walls adding a splash of colour and an authentic feel. The tables are small but nicely sized and there is plenty of space between them so you do not feel crowded. The atmosphere was pleasant and the staff were attentive.
We ordered a drink while we looked at the food menu.The drinks menu had a selection of Spanish beer and a variety of different wines. Sangria could also be ordered if you wished. If you do not want alcohol you can choose from a selection of soft drinks
El Coto is a tapas bar where you can choose a selection of small dishes which you can then share. You can either choose a selection of dishes from the menu or choose one of their selection menus. The selection menu is for either two or three people with a selection of ten dishes for £15.95 per person. The restaurant week offer allowed you to choose three tapas dishes for £10. There were two separate lists, you could choose one tapas from the first list and two from the second list per person. We decided to order nine different dishes and share them in order to try as many as possible. Once we ordered we did not have to wait long until the food came.
The first list had a choice of ten items and we chose:
Papas bravas is a dish I have made myself so I knew what to expect. The dish did not disappoint, small crispy potato cubes with spicy sauce. The creamy honey and mustard mayonnaise on the other potato dish was delicious.
We chose two dishes each from the second list which contained thirteen choices:
My favourite three dishes were the Pollo pepitoria, Albondigas en salsa espanola and the Ternera a al mesonera. These were dishes that were bursting with flavour and melted in your mouth. For me the king prawns were nice but did not live up to my expectations. I love king prawns and was expecting these to have more of a garlic flavour. It may just have been overwhelmed with the garlic sauce that came with the bread and the salmon chunks. I found the Bocarditos de salmon a little dry. My son loved the Chorizo frito but my husband was not so keen on these.
We enjoyed our meal at El Coto. The restaurant is tastefully decorated and has a nice feel about it. The meal was enjoyable and well cooked. The tapas experience is nice for a different type of night out, it is enjoyable to have a range of foods to try. The portions were a decent size, we all felt full after leaving. The service was quick and efficient and we did not feel rushed but when we left we realised we had only been there for around half an hour. An evening at a restaurant should take a little longer than this to make it an really enjoyable night. We could have ordered another drink or a dessert to stretch the time but we would have preferred the meal to last a bit longer.
We would return on a special occasion as we enjoyed the ambience and the food. The restaurant week deal was a good chance to try El Coto as the normal prices are a lot more. I think if we went again we would take advantage of the lunch menu offer of three tapas for £10.95. If you like tapas this is a lovely place to visit and has a great ambience.
Have you visited any restaurants for NE1 restaurant week? What did you think? Let me know below.