I took my brother along as my 'plus-one' for the evening (and he acted as my chauffeur). There is ample free parking directly outside the brasserie.
Irvin's is a beautiful building. My brother loved the open kitchen and being able to watch the chef's in action. I loved the beautiful architecture which had been tastefully enhanced with some gorgeous touches especially for the festive season. The handmade gingerbread decorations on the Christmas tree were a lovely touch. I'm pleased to say there was no cheap tinsel in sight!
We enjoyed a glass or two of sparkling wine which we later learned is produced on the sides of Mount Etna. This was accompanied by some delicious North Shields Smoked Salmon Frittata canapés.
After a little bit of mingling it was time to take our seats.
Irvin's can cater for all type of functions - there were intimate tables for 2 or larger tables for groups. We decided to opt for a 'family dining' style table and joined a table with four other ladies.
Our first course of mussel chowder was served in a mug and a delicious way to start the evening.
Our second course of cottage pie was served in one dish to our table and everybody was encouraged to tuck in. We were lucky enough to be sitting next to the butcher who reared the main ingredients in our dish. Eating locally sourced food and knowing where your meat comes from is very important to me so it was great to learn that having a great relationship with their butcher is important to Irvin's too. The cottage pie was delicious and exactly the sort of comfort food we needed on a cold December evening.
Our final course was Apple Tarte Tatin served with custard and was the real star of the show. I have to admit at the grand age of 30 I thought I did not like cooked apples. How wrong could I be! This dish was amazing and has inspired me to attempt baking one myself at home.
We really were spoilt at Irvin's and throughout the evening we were encouraged to take part in a new world vs old world wine tasting. We tried 8 different wines throughout the evening that had all been chosen to compliment each course. There was an expert on hand to give a brief description of each wine at various intervals and answer any questions we had. It's fair to say, between sampling a lovely variety of wines I actually learned a thing or two. I also really enjoyed trying the two dessert wines. I would never normally order a dessert wine but the two I tried were delicious and definitely changed my pre-conceptions of how they taste.
The atmosphere throughout the whole evening and in fact the whole place is very relaxed and informal but with a strong emphasis on fresh, honest, local produce in beautiful surroundings.
We had such a lovely evening and it certainly won't be long before we visit again.