FORGET Michelin stars – the hunt is on to find Newcastle’s best burger van.
Stag and Hen party specialists Last Night of Freedom are serving up a platter of different awards aimed at shining a light on the less glamourous side of the city’s bustling food and drink scene.
Rather than dishing out prizes to posh fine-dining venues, the Gateshead firm is instead trying to crown Tyneside’s best 2am takeaway, fast-food venue and hangover breakfast.
The cheeky company is asking hard-partying Geordies to nominate the food and drink venues that fuel their notorious nights out (and mornings after)
Dubbed ‘alternative restaurant week’, it takes place following the city’s traditional restaurant week, which is held from August 7th-13th, and allows foodies to sample some of the city’s best restaurants on the cheap.
However, the Gateshead party firm’s boss said the awards are about recognising and celebrating the “real food and drink” thousands of revellers turn to each and every weekend – especially after a heavy night on the tiles.
“Whichever walk of life you’re from, everyone succumbs to greasy grub after a big night out,” said Last Night of Freedom’s Managing Director, Matt Mavir.
“Newcastle has an incredible food scene, but the focus is always on artisan venues or posh nosh that is unfortunately out of the price range of many people.
“This competition instead celebrates the real food Geordies eat during or after a night out, with the awards also acting as great advice for the thousands of visitors – like stags and hens – who want to know where to eat if they are feeling a bit worse for wear.
“Be it a bag of cheesy chips from a Bigg Market takeaway, or the burger van whose food rivals that of a city centre restaurant, we want to find and honour the city’s unsung heroes when it comes to people tackling their hangovers.”
Currently, Newcastle is the top stag and hen party hotspot in Europe. Besides Liverpool, it is as least twice as popular as any other UK destination.
Figures published in 2021 suggested Newcastle’s legendary nightlife generates around £340m to the city each year, with pubs and bars supporting approximately 6,500 jobs.
Yet while it has a global reputation for partying, in recent years the North-East has also become a mecca for foodies.
Currently the North East has an abundance of Michelin starred restaurants with a raft of eateries included in the current Michelin guide.
Among them, the acclaimed Jesmond restaurant Peace and Loaf, which is operated by the top North East chef Dave Coulson.
A former Masterchef contestant, during the covid pandemic he was forced to pivot the award- winning restaurant into a pie shop called Peace of Pie.
Having outlived the pandemic itself, the business is now thriving, with around 1,000 homemade pies produced at the restaurant each week – with the tasty treats even served up at St James’ Park.
While Dave’s restaurant is known for sublime tasting menus, the top chef has a passion for pastry – and a real love of takeaways – and he said he’s “over the moon” to be involved in judging the competition and celebrating food that’s close to his heart.
“I think Alternative Restaurant Week is a brilliant idea, as it shines a light on some real gems of the North East’s thriving food and drink scene,” added the chef.
“The North-East is laden with Michelin stars these days, which is an incredible achievement, but there’s outstanding food in every corner of our region – from fish and chips in Tynemouth to takeaways in Byker – and we have a food scene to rival anywhere in the country.
“In lockdown, we moved into pies out of necessity, but we have never looked back – Peace of Pie is thriving because, as we’ve found out, who doesn’t love a good pie?
“And it is great that businesses that may not get much exposure during the traditional restaurant week have a chance to be highlighted.”
The award categories are:
- Best 2am takeaway
- Best hangover breakfast
- Best burger van
- Best fast-food venue
- Best Sunday roast
To vote in the awards, click here. The winners will be announced in the near future.
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