We’re suckers for some good old hearty American eatin’ round here at Scran on the Tyne, so when Painted Elephant asked us round for their sold out Taste of Americana evening – promising us chowder, cowboy beans, grits ‘n’ greens, key lime pie, and much, much more – we saddled up and got straight on over for an intimate, well-hosted night that saw us leaving with full bellies and already planning our next visit.
You’ll find Painted Elephant behind the city library and nestled right beneath the joint-second tallest building in the city, Bewick Court. They’re a tiny, quirky affair ran by Laura and Eve Turnbull; a couple with a passion for creating delicious, interesting food free from any animal or animal by-product ingredients. It’s exciting, damn-tasty vegan food that’s totally accessible to everyone.
So we settled ourselves in for their sold-out six-course tasting menu, knocked-up by chef Laura and her small (there’s only six of them!) team, served up to a nice bunch of around twenty eager scanners.
First up, a Florida orange and rosemary sorbet arrived as our amuse bouche, and boy, was our bouche amused. Wonderfully zesty and unexpectedly sticky, the tangy, fresh orange flavour was brought to life and set off brilliantly by the surprising addition of deliciously fragrant rosemary.
And so we moved onto the main features, and a mouth-watering corn chowder that was rich and robust with a pleasant, subtle spiciness and lovely texture. During the chilly winter months in the city, this would be a perfect go-to quick lunch dish, filling and warming in equal measure.
Next up, a straight taste of proper frontier life with classic cowboy beans ladelled up onto a healthy slab of sourdough, and topped off with some light leafy greens. Again, solidly hale and hearty, with a more vibrant spice than the chowder and a wonderfully tangy tomato flavour bursting through the beans.
Toning down the Americana vibe briefly, the grits ‘n’ greens came off the menu last minute, replaced by thinly sliced southern spiced sweet potato with subtle paprika flavouring, a light, tangy dressing, and deep green kale on top. We’ll surely be back for the grits ‘n’ greens, but this was a nice substitute, and a light break between the two heavier courses either side.
Looming into view before us next was BBQ-pulled jackfruit and creole slaw, served up on a half bun and topped off again with dainty, leafy greens. Our first experience of jackfruit, these things hail from South and Southeast Asia, a staple of the cuisine across those parts, and the largest tree-borne fruit there is in the world to boot. Naturally sweet and subtly flavoured, the Painted Elephant team gave us our first jackfruit experience with coarse-shredded flesh imbued with a stunning deep-down south BBQ flavour for what was, for us, the dish of the night.
We ended on a delicious key lime pie, with a more granular than usual texture and a subtle, limey zestiness cutting through. This was the perfect, natural bookend to a night that began with citrus and took us right back there, with a healthy dollop of amazing raw coconut ice cream on the side no less.
Painted Elephant serve up their a seasonal à la carte menu five days a week Tuesday to Saturday, they’re also open for lunch Thursday to Saturday, and they hold regular supper events too. With their tight little menu changing on a monthly basis, you’re guaranteed something new, fresh and interesting on every visit.
Look out for our full review, coming soon to Scran on the Tyne.
Painted Elephant is located at 6 Upper Princess Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 8ER, and you can find them at painted-elephant.com too. Leigh was given a complimentary meal for the purpose of this article. As always, all views are true to experience. Want to know more about vegetarian and vegan eating in the city? Check out our little guide, “Vegetarians! Newcastle has Got You Covered“.