Thursday, 26 May 2016

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle

Ouseburn is described by Wikipedia as 'a cultural and social oasis close to the centre of Newcastle'. It's an area of Newcastle we are fairly familiar with, mostly thanks to multiple trips to Seven Stories and the Ouseburn Farm. On a lovely sunny day at the beginning of the month, Steve and I decided to see what else Ouseburn had to offer. My mum took the kids of our hands for the day and we left the car at home :-)

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - Seven Stories
Seven Stories

In Ouseburn you can park your car in the Foundry Lane Car Park just by Seven Stories (postcode NE6 1LH) or at the Cycle Hub on the Quayside (NE6 1BU). Both of these car parks are FREE. There is also the option to catch the Q3 Go North East Qualink bus from Newcastle City Centre or if it's a nice day you can walk from the centre of Newcastle as we did (it's a well signposted 1.5 mile walk to Seven Stories from Greys monument). 

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - Ouseburn City Farm
Ouseburn City Farm

Whilst in the Ouseburn area, a walk around the Ouseburn city farm is a must. It's a free community attraction (suggested donation £2) with a lovely little cafe that serves produce grown on the farm.
Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Cluny
The Cluny
We walked past the Cluny and the Ship Inn saying that we must visit these pubs soon and walked along the banks of the Ouse towards the famous Cook House. The Cook House is two shipping containers that have been converted into a fun and quirky dining space where Anna (from the Grazer) prepares a small but delightful menu which changes daily.

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Cook House
Steve waiting eagerly for his lunch


Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Cook House
Salt Beef Salad

The prices are incredible - this Salt Beef Salad was only £6 and tasted absolutely divine. Followed by an Ouseburn Coffee and the most delicious homemade lemon posset we felt utterly spoilt. The music added to the atmosphere and as Emma states in her review, it really feels as if you have popped over to a friends' kitchen for lunch. 

Other options for dining in the Ouseburn area include Ernst (as reviewed by Katie's Blonde Ambition), Mustang 'S' Ally (as reviewed by Canny Food) and The Cluny (as reviewed by Canny Food). I can't wait to return and try them all for myself! 

After lunch we walked past the impressive Hotel Du Vin (admiring their outdoor terrace) towards our first beer garden. 

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - Hotel Du Vin
Hotel Du Vin

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - Hotel Du Vin
Hotel Du Vin Courtyard

The Tyne Bar describes itself as Newcastle's best secret and I kind of agree. You can expect regular free live music (usually in the outdoor performance area), fairly decent looking food and the kind of atmosphere you'd expect in a proper Geordie pub.

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Tyne Bar
The Tyne Bar

There is plenty of outdoor seating where you can soak up the sunshine as a boat or two sails past you on the Ouse. 

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Tyne Bar
The Tyne Bar Beer Garden

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Tyne Bar
The Tyne Bar


After our first round of drinks we climbed the hill up to The Free Trade Inn. Steve was impressed with the huge selection of beers and I just LOVED the views from not one but two beer gardens.

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Free Trade Inn
The Free Trade Inn

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Free Trade Inn
View from The Free Trade Inn Beer Garden

I thoroughly enjoyed both pubs but have to say I think the Free Trade Inn was my favourite - my Sauvignon Blanc was perfectly chilled here (it was more room temp at the Tyne Bar) and the unrivalled views are worth the small climb up the hill. I can easily see us returning and spending a few hours here over summer. 

Time was moving on and we needed to get to our city centre hotel and get ready for our dinner reservation with friends so we walked past the Cycle Hub (again, somewhere we will re-visit for coffee soon) and it was impossible to resist sitting on the Pitcher and Piano's terrace for one final quick drink in the sun (not strictly Ouseburn I know).

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - The Cycle Hub
The Cycle Hub

Beer Garden & Foodie Heaven in Ouseburn, Newcastle - Pitcher and Piano
Drinks in the sun at the Pitcher & Piano

Newcastle certainly is delightful in the sunshine and we loved our first taste of summer as experienced in what we reckon are some of the best beer gardens in town.
Where are your favourite spots in Ouseburn?




Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre

I was shocked when I realised that we last visited intu Metrocentre in November 2015 for a spot of Christmas shopping. Time flies when you are having fun! I remember feeling a little uninspired by the dining choices available and we ended up catching the train to Newcastle for dinner.

Our Guide to Family Dining & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre restaurants - christmas
Christmas shopping at intu Metrocentre

We probably visit intu Metrocentre 4-6 times per year. It's a place we tend to visit around our children's birthdays when we treat them to Build-A-Bear and birthday tea. We usually choose Frankie & Benny's or Nando's which although are decent enough chains for families, can get a bit boring when you visit every birthday. Plus they are two chains that we actually have in my home town too so there is no need for me to travel to the Metrocentre especially to visit. Yes, the Metrocentre was certainly crying out for new dining options.

Our Guide to Family Dining & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre restaurants


Introducing the new QUBE


Our Guide to Family Dining & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre restaurants


We were invited along to a family dining event at the QUBE to sample some of the new dining options available at intu Metrocentre earlier this month and I could not believe the transformation. Last time we walked through the QUBE the restaurant area was boarded up but now it is a stylish and fun place to walk through with LOTS of places to dine out. We are now spoilt for choice! Here are a selection of our favourite restaurants to take the kids the next time you pop into intu Metrocentre:-

Chiquito

Our Guide to Family Dining & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre restaurants - Rainbows and Dreams Mocktail - Chiquito
Rainbows and Dreams Mocktail 

Our Guide to Family Dining & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre restaurants - chiquitos
Churro Sticks
Chiquito is lots of fun with a party atmosphere, lots of fun treats and Latin Music. The children's menu is only £4.95 per main course and includes options such as burger and fries or chicken skewers. There is also an older children's menu available for just £7.95 which is perfect for tweenagers and features lots of Mexican classics such as tortilla towers and fajita wraps. Menu here.

Thaikhun

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre  - Coconut Mojito Mocktail - Thaikhun
Coconut Mojito Mocktail

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Chicken Thai Curry - Thaikhun
Chicken Thai Curry

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre  - chicken thai curry - thaikhun
King Prawns

I was highly impressed with the staff from Thaikhun who really made the effort to come along and chat to the kids, explain the menu to them and really make them feel welcome. Ever since reading this review from Feeding Boys I have wanted to visit Thaikhun and have to say we were equally impressed. Thaikhun either offer a Kids Menu featuring dishes such as BBQ Pork with rice or Pad Thai for under £5 per main or a sharing 'Pinto'. During the event we tried their Pinto Thai which is a Thai family tradition of four tiffin box pintos to share. Jack ADORED their Bangkok Popcorn Chicken so much that I didn't manage to take a snap but it was all delicious and we will certainly be back soon to try more.


Ask Italian

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Prosecco from Ask

You can't visit Ask without a cheeky glass of Italian Prosecco can you :-) Kids are very well catered for at Ask with a 3 course meal and Babyccino available for £6.75 (menu here). We would highly recommend their chocolate pizza which the staff kindly boxed up for us to bring home for supper. 

Coast to Coast

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Pretzels from Coast to Coast
Pretzels

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - vanilla cheesecake - coast to coast
Vanilla Cheesecake


Coast to Coast is a fun American restaurant and Heidi has declared their pretzels to be the best thing in the world. Their Junior Menu is priced at £7.95 for a main course and ice cream and with options such as chicken strips, burgers and fajitas, I think the menu will please even the fussiest of eaters.

BarBurrito

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Burittos from Barburitto
Bambino Burrito's

BarBurrito is the restaurant that shocked me the most. Their Bambino Burritos went down a treat with Harry who declared them his favourite dish of the night. I couldn't see a children's menu online but small burritos are priced from just £5.30. You can build your Burrito exactly how you want it too so again, perfect for kids. Menu here. 


Nando's

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre  - chicken wings from nandos
Chicken Wings


Jack loves Nando's Corn on the Cob

Nando's is one of the first restaurants we visited as a family of 5 when Jack was just a teeny tiny baby. I will always remember how they didn't bat an eyelid at a crazy family with three kids under the age of 4 and think this is one of the best things about Nando's - you know exactly what to expect every time you visit and families are always made to feel welcome. Children's meals are priced at £5.95 for a main, 2 sides and a dessert. Our three usually choose either chicken wings or chicken strips. Menu here. 

Yo! Sushi

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Yo Sushi

We have taken our kids to Yo! Sushi before and they loved the novelty of it all - being able to pick food from the belt that tempts their eyes is a novel experience. The food is always spot on and if you are looking for a healthier or lighter lunch, Yo! Sushi could be an option. The only issue I have is that it can sometimes be quite pricey if you give your kids free reign. There are some fab offers available though including this lunch time special. 

Bella Italia

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Pink lemonade
Make your own pink lemonade

The kids loved making their own pink lemonade and their kids menu is one of the best value menus at £5.45 as it includes unlimited squash, 3 courses plus nibbles. Bargain! 

Byron

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Byron Burger
Kids Byron Burger
Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Byron Oreo Milkshake
Oreo Cookie Milkshake

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre  - Courgette Fries - Byron
Courgette Fries

The kids were going crazy about the Oreo Cookie Milkshake having never tried one before. They loved them so much that they had to come home with us! Children can choose a main, side and drink for £6.50 (menu here) which includes a selection of burgers or macaroni cheese. This was the first time we tried Courgette Fries and whilst I wasn't keen, hubby loved them. 

Pizza Express

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Pizza Express
Bambinoccino at Pizza Express

The Pizza Express kids menu is priced at £6.95 for three courses plus a bambinoccino (menu here). We sometimes find it better value to use our Tastecards and buy a couple of pizzas to share between us using their 2 for 1 offer.  

Wagamama

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Duck and Pancakes Wagamama
Duck and Pancakes

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Mini desserts Wagamama
Selection of mini desserts

The Wagamama children's menu features a range of mini Japanese dishes. The staff are always so happy and friendly and nothing is ever too much trouble. Sauce is served on the side too so don't be put off if you don't think your kids will be keen. Wagamama have thought of everything and even provided kids chopsticks. Main courses are charged between £3.50 and £5 making Wagamama a good value choice. Menu here. 

Frankie & Benny's


Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Ice Cream Candy Shop F&B's
Ice Cream Candy Shop

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - Popping Candy
Ice Cream Candy Shop
I know a lot of people turn their noses up at F&B's but there's no denying my kids love it. Kids meals are a BARGAIN £4.25 which includes a main course, dessert and re-fillable drink. There are often offers around for kids eat free too. My three love the penne pasta and of course the Ice Cream Candy Shop Dessert. Menu here. 

Handmade Burger Co.

Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre - milkshakes handmade burger co
Strawberry Handmade Shake
Junior burgers are priced from £4.55 or there are meal deals available for £6.50 which includes a junior burger, junior side and soft drink (upgrade to a shake for £1 extra). Menu here.


Our top recommendations for family dining


We've selected our favourite dishes from the evening:- 

  • On a budget:- Frankie & Benny's Kids meal deal. £4.25 for 2 courses, extra veg/salad plus unlimited drinks is a bargain.
  • Mum's choice:- Thaikhun for authentic Thai cuisine with welcoming and friendly staff.
  • Dad's choice:- Spicy chicken wings from Nando's or Duck from Wagamama
  • Harry's choice (aged 9) :- Make your own Burritos at BarBurrito and Oreo Milkshake from Byron
  • Heidi's choice (aged 7) :- Pretzels from Coast to Coast or Ice Cream Candy Shop from Frankie & Benny's.
  • Jack's choice (aged 5) :- Bangkok popcorn chicken from Thaikhun and corn on the cob from Nando's


Our Guide to Family Restaurants & Children's Menus at intu Metrocentre

I wish to extend a huge thank you to the intu Metrocentre marketing team and the restaurants involved for inviting us along to sample the best of their menus. I've never experienced anything quite like it and as their new deputy head of fun mentioned in his closing speech, it was the best party ever. We weren't obliged to write a post but I genuinely think there have been some really positive improvements to the shopping centre when it comes to dining and I wanted to share them with you.

Why not join our North East Food Lovers Facebook group where you can ask for restaurant recommendations from over 400 people living in the North East or post your own mini reviews.




Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall

As a family we love, love, love a trip to Hadrian's Wall. Whether you are interested in archaeology, history, magnificent views or simply somewhere for the kids to run about, Hadrian's Wall has it all.

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall

We are heading to Birdoswald Roman Fort this weekend to enjoy a picnic as part of their Kite Festival. Follow us on Instagram and Snapchat (Username: NEFAMILYFUN) on Sunday for all of the action (subject to signal).

The Hadrian's Wall Partnership have put together their top 10 places to enjoy a picnic along the wall and I thought it would be nice to share. Let me know if you've visited any of these spots or have any other recommendations.

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall


1. Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum, South Shields

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Arbeia Roman Fort




2. Birdoswald Roman Fort, Gilsland

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Birdoswald Roman Fort




3. Corbridge Roman Town, Corbridge

  • Location:- Borrow an audio guide which brings the town to life and don't forget to pop into the museum. Picnic tables available.
  • More Info:- Check website for opening times, entry from £3.70 or FREE for English Heritage Members. 
  • Post Code:- NE45 5NT


4. Cawfields Roman Wall and Milecastle, Haltwhistle

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Cawfields Roman Wall

  • Location:- Enjoy 360 degree views from this steep slope and take a picnic by the pond where you'll spot lots of wildlife. 
  • More Info:- Open during daylight hours, free entry. Visit website for details
  • Post Code:- NE49 9PJ



5. Chesters Roman Fort, Chollerford

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Chesters Roman Fort


  • Location:- The most complete Roman Cavalry Fort in Britain with picturesque views of the Tyne and a museum.
  • More Info:- Open daily (check website for details), entry from £3.70 or FREE for English Heritage members. Tea room available. Comprehensive events programme. 
  • Post Code:- NE46 4EU


6. Housesteads Roman Fort, Haydon Bridge

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Housesteads Roman Fort

  • Location:- An incredible 360 degree view, interactive museum and picnic blankets to borrow make Housesteads a favourite spot for family picnics. 
  • More Info:- Open daily (check website for details), entry from £4.10 or FREE for English Heritage Members. 
  • Post Code:- NE47 6NN



7. Lanercost Priory, Brampton

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Lanercost Priory

  • Location:-A perfect spot for a tranquil picnic with views of the Priory. 
  • More Info:- Open daily (check website for details), entry from £2.50 or FREE for English Heritage Members. 
  • Post Code:- CA8 2HQ


8. Roman Vindolanda, Bardon Mill

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Roman Vindolanda

  • Location:- One of Europe's most important Archaeological sites where you can witness excavation in progress. There is a fantastic museum and lots of spots to enjoy a picnic. 
  • More Info:- Open daily, Admission from £4.25 (check website for details), cafe available. 
  • Post Code:- NE47 7JN


9. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum, Wallsend

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Sagedunum
Thanks Canny Food for this photograph 

  • Location:- The most complete excavation on Hadrian's Wall with superb views from the tower. The museum has been developed with children in mind - expect lots of interactive displays and dressing up. Lots of grass for picnics. 
  • More Info:- Open daily, Entry from £3.95 (under 16's are free). Check website for details. Cafe available. 
  • Post Code:- NE28 6HR


10. Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall - Senhouse Roman Museum

  • Location:- Enjoy dramatic views of the Solway Firth from this award winning Roman fort. 
  • More Info:- Open daily (check website for details), Entry from £1.50, Tea and Coffee available. 
  • Post Code:- CA15 6JD

Phew that is quite a list! Thank you to the Hadrian's Wall Partnership for helping me to put this list together. 

Top 10 Spots To Enjoy A Picnic Along Hadrian's Wall

I'd love to hear where your favourite spot along Hadrian's Wall is.