NE1 restaurant week occurs twice a year and the summer event was between the 3rd and 9th August. Restaurants across the centre of Newcastle, in the NE1 area, offer great deals on food. You can pick up a two course or three course meal from £10 or £15 per person. The deal depends on the restaurant so it is worth looking at the menus ahead of time. This time NE1 restaurant week coincided with our 17th wedding anniversary so it was a good excuse to go out for a meal. The only difficult decision was which restaurant to choose. The decision was partly made by the fact that my husband and son are great meat lovers. We have previously enjoyed both the Coop Chicken House and Longhorns Barbecue Smoke House in Newcastle. Wanting to try something similar we made the decision to visit the Hop & Cleaver on Newcastle’s quayside. The quayside has reinvented itself over recent years with plenty of new bars and restaurants appearing. The Hop & Cleaver is one of these, offering plates of meat smoked and slow cooked in house and craft beers brewed on the premises.
Hop & Cleaver
The Hop & Cleaver is found on the quayside right next door to Bessie Surtees House, known for the elopement Bessie with John Scott, later Lord Chancellor of England. The buildings are 16th and 17th century merchants’ houses and stunning to look at from the outside. The Hop & Cleaver itself is situated in a grade 1 listed merchants warehouse. This results in an atmospheric and unique restaurant.
The inside is broken up into unique spaces which have a rustic feel to them. The main restaurant space is a lovely place to sit and enjoy a meal. The rear wall has a medieval quality, the stone walls are obviously original. Large logs are set on the back wall with the name of the restaurant picked out in lights. The ceiling has the large original beams which add a homely feel.
From the main restaurant you can get a glimpse into the brewing room. Hop and Cleaver specialist ales are produced on site and the stills make you feel you have wandered back into the prohibition era in America. Large wooden vats of beer are on show. The thickness of the walls shows that when the building was a warehouse it must have been difficult to break into.
As it was resturant week we decided to try the special tasting menu for £10 per person. This allowed us to sample a number of different items from the menu. The taster menu was served in a crate and consisted of charred sticky glazed ribs, a pulled pork slider, a pot of smokey 14 hour smoked brisket, charred smoked sausage quarter, two hop and cleaver style buffalo wings, fries, pit beans, slaw, a garden salad and dill pickle. This is the official Hop & Cleaver photo of the meal, I had difficulty getting the whole meal in my photo as I did not want to stand up and look daft.
The food arrived quickly and the service was pleasant. This is my photo which does not do the plate justice.
Whilst my husband and son are carnivores, I was pleased to see the addition of salad on the plate. I find a bite of salad is refreshing between meat tastes and this one was lovely. A mix of different lettuces, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. The dill pickles were also lovely just the right amount of sweetness and bite. The fries were lovely and crisp and the slaw was very tasty as well. The pit beans were amazing, a mix of different beans in a smoky sauce and the whole family loved them. I shall have to try and recreate the recipe at home.
The main part of the plate was the meat and the men in my life would not forgive me if I did not mention it. The buffalo wings were lovely with a nice char-grilled taste and a hint of stickiness. The meat just melted off the bones. The pulled pork slider was served in a bun, the pork had a sweet taste with a hint of smoke. The smoked brisket was really moreish, once I started that I had to keep eating it. It was lovely and soft and again had that smoky flavour. The smoked sausage was not too spicy and the charred sticky glazed ribs were the star of the show. Very sticky and very tasty with the meat easy to release from the bones. Luckily we were provided with two hand wipes as well as a napkin, which we needed after eating the meal. Sadly this tasting crate is only available during restaurant week but there are plenty of crates and plates on the main menu which look delicious.
As you would expect from seeing the brewing equipment on site the drinks menu offers a range of craft beers which are mainly ale varieties. You will also find Kentucky bourbon and rye whiskey on the menu, which adds to the prohibition feel of the place. If you are feeling more adventurous there are a range of cocktails and alcoholic shakes to try. If you are a lover of bourbon, whiskey or real ale you will be in your element. Things are a little harder if you are a larger drinker, the best option was Budweiser. When asked if it was chilled the staff did make the extra effort and bought the bottle in a pint glass of ice to keep it cold. I was tempted to try the cocktails but again most of these are bourbon or whiskey based which I am not keen on. As I was not feeling adventurous I had a white wine which was very nice.We had a very pleasant evening at the Hop & Cleaver and really enjoyed the food and surroundings. We did not feel rushed and the staff were quick to help whilst being unobtrusive. It would be nice if there was some draft larger on offer as well as craft beers so that all options were covered. This however is a matter of personal preference and there are plenty of bars along the quayside to visit if you want a drink after your meal. I would definitely go back and try and regular menu.