Bar + Block Newcastle Steakhouse. My first night out eating out to help out, and my first time at this particular site.
A fairly new addition to the Newcastle restaurant scene prior to lockdown was Bar + Block Steakhouse. You will see these venues usually attached or next to a Premier Inn. I had high expectations, as had been to a London site and had a great experience.
Recently reopened with a reduced menu owing to Covid, I booked myself in as they are taking part in the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, with the added bonus of no £10 cap. So all food and soft drink were half price.
The obvious lookout was how social distancing had been implemented. Hand sanitiser and clear signage, given a pre-designated table. Clear explanations of the rules. There was also a paper guide for us to refer to also. Tables had a divider to keep you separate from those next to you, and kept you at a distance of about a metre seat to seat. No issues for me. Bar and Kitchen areas were also covered.
Your not required to fill out track and trace as you consent to your information being shared for this purpose when you make your booking online. Although I’m not sure what happens if you reserve by phone or walk in.
Kitchen staff are in PPE, but general waiting staff aren’t. Tables weren’t cleaned immediately after being vacated, but had been prior to next sitting. Cutlery is given to you after each course is brought out. Sauces served in sachets.
I booked for 7.15pm, It filled up quite quickly, noting that the eat out to help out scheme has encouraged many to visit restaurants and inject much needed money into the economy. I had been told between 5-7pm they had already seen to 110 covers. However, I still felt comfortable in the surroundings.
So the food first, albeit with a reduced menu there was enough on it to find a 3 course meal that I liked. Just like my first experience in London, the food was fantastic. Cooked as requested, portion sizes perfect and nothing to complain about there.
I was with the wife and for starter we went for King Prawns and Korean Ribs. The king prawns very easy to take out of the shell, so if like my wife you don’t like touching them, it was easy enough to take out. The Ribs fell off the bone as I ate them. Both smelled and tasted great.
For main I tried something a little different and went for Tira De Ancho. A 12oz* spiral cut ribeye marinated in garlic, parsley and chilli, served with chimichurri. Well why not I thought, it’s half price! Other than the chimichurri being slightly too oily for my personal taste this steak was cooked perfectly and tasted great. We accompanied our steaks with some lovely crunchy beer-battered onion rings, succulent garlic mushrooms and a side salad. Again portion well sized.
We finished off with Meringue Kisses and Chocolate Churros Sundae for dessert. Overall was ok, but not blown away. All personal opinion of course. The wife said her meringue was a little soft, and my ice cream had started to melt, as i had to wait for the cutlery.
Overall I still rate this chain restaurant for its food. However on this visit, the service let it down, I’m not sure if the staff were just overworked, or it was a general lack of attentiveness.
It was apparent that waiting staff don’t have zoned areas they look after, as it took about 5 minutes for someone to notice we had been seated and waiting. Then it was a little like waiting for a bus, nothing for a while and then two (or three) in this instance all came asking if i wanted to order a drink. By the end of the meal, I had been attended to by six or seven different people.
The wait between courses was slow, between 20-25 mins between the starter being taken away and mains being delivered. However, no apologies offered or explanation when the food did arrive. we later overheard they had a backlog when we heard someone complain about their wait.
Lastly dessert and one of our friendly waiters told us he was off to get our cutlery. Sadly it appears he forgot about us, as we saw him attend to 3 other tables and have a chat, while my Churros Sundae was starting to melt. After giving the benefit of the doubt and about 7 minutes later, we had to pull someone else to get them for us.
Home time came, and the bill requested. A saving of £46 overall. £20 of which accounted for alcohol which isn’t discounted. Great value and good food.
Again a slight wait to get the attention of a member of staff to ask for the bill, the lady we asked then attended to other tables after another 10 minutes then told us her colleague was seeing to it.
Would you choose Bar + Block over a Miller and Carter or Rio Steakhouse? That’s for you to decide. I think you should at least give B+B a try especially if you can get in while this offer is on.. It’s also definitely worth a go when they have a full menu running also.
On a quieter night my experience may have been very different at Bar + Block Newcastle. It’s good food, in a casual atmosphere. It’ll always be an option for me, but I’ll be trying other places first before going back.
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