Well, where do I even start with this place?! Aidan’s Kitchen, based on Starbeck Avenue in Sandyford, is the type of café that you could spend all day in. Before I even stepped into a whole new world of brunch goodness, I had already bought into the concept of Aidan and his kitchen. An independent eatery from a local lad with palpable passion for this menu and venue – what’s not to love?
The OH and I are always in search of new brunch spots – living next to Whitley Bay, we are slightly spoilt with the delights of Café 19 and Kith & Kin. Whist I would never stop going to these places, it’s nice every now and again to get a tip off for a new gem. And Aidan’s Kitchen certainly is that.
Being the new kid on the block, you would think that only being open for 2 months would mean a slightly quieter venue. WRONG. We headed to Aidan’s for 11am and the place was packed. Always a good sign. Good news is that you can book ahead if you are one of those lovely organised people, so there’s no queueing for you early birds.
The interiors are modern, whilst still feeling cosy. Having a touch of OCD, their well-stocked cake plates with piles of home-made brownies and cakes made for a very pleasant sight indeed.
We were given a lovely little corner table with a view of the whole café, including part of the open kitchen, which I always love to see. I’m of the opinion that if you can see the chefs working away, you know exactly what you’re getting and they aren’t afraid to show it! I’m also mesmerised watching them produce their works of art, in the anticipation of receiving my own plate of whatever it is I’ve ordered.
The menu has some classics along with some more adventurous plates. We decided to go with something traditional – Eggs Benedict (priced £7) and something more exciting – the Shakshuka (priced £8.50). We also couldn’t resist the half stack of pancakes that was on offer for £4.50. I have a huge sweet tooth so couldn’t not really, especially after spying them on the Aidan’s Kitchen instagram account looking devilishly delicious.
I class myself as a bit of a poached egg connoisseur. I am also a bit hypocrite though. Whilst I can’t make one to save my life, I certainly know a good one when I see it. These were fabulous. That perfect combination of a supple white and a runny yolk. No sign of that horrible white/almost transparent gunge that occurs when someone is too scared to cook them that little bit longer! It’s a skill I can certainly appreciate.
I was also very appreciative of the real ham hock used. Most of the time you either get that wafer-thin crap, or just a piece of bacon. Whilst I love bacon as much as the next gal, it’s nice to have the real chunky stuff. The hollandaise to accompany had just the right notes of sharpness to keep your tastebuds on their toes.
Next, the Shakshuka. As I mentioned earlier, being spoiled regularly with the delights of Kith&Kin (The OG) on my doorstep, I regularly have their version, so this was a bit of a comparison test. I felt like I was cheating on them. Turns out I’m going to be a serial cheater, because this was even better than my beloved Kith & Kin’s! It had slightly less chilli in, which I approved of because sometimes it can be a tad overpowering for my more sensitive palate.
But, the real winner of this Shakshuka, was the Merguez sausage (yes, I had to Google what it was too). Merguez is a sausage made with uncooked lamb, beef, or a mixture of the two. It is heavily spiced with cumin and chilli pepper or harissa (which gives it its characteristic piquancy and red colour) as well as other spices such as sumac, fennel, and garlic. Oh holy heck, that mutton goodness! Its an extra £1.50 to add it to the dish, but you would be seriously missing out if you didn’t go for it, so I recommend that you do!
By this point, I was stuffed, but everyone knows you have one stomach for savoury and one for sweet, so full steam ahead with those pancakes. Normally I’m a Nutella pancake girl, but this mixed berry stack hit the nail on the head.
The pancakes were warm and fluffy, the berries had a lovely tang against the cream stacked on top, coupled with crumbs of hazelnut praline for a bit of crunch. I asked over our lovely server to see if anyone ever gets the full stack, because even sharing these I was stuffed (that nice stuffed where you keep going back for more but know the jean top button is coming un done and you don’t even care). She said they did, but no one finishes them. I can quite believe it.
So it’s safe to say that I’m going to have to come back to Aidan’s Kitchen more than once. Next time it might be a lunch date. Their open sandwiches sound fabulous – grilled chorizo and halloumi in particular. I really wish them all the luck world with their new venture – not that they even need it.
Aidan’s Kitchen is the gem that NE2 has been missing in the brunch department for AGES.
There’s no website, but you can find out more about Aidan’s Kitchen via their Facebook page. Aidan’s Kitchen can be found at 11 Starbeck Ave, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1RH. Thanks to Aidan and the team for a fantastic visit, and for offering Zoe their food on the house for the purpose of this review. All opinions are true to experience.