Is Marco Pierre White Newcastle really offering the ‘Best steak in Newcastle’? We headed there recently to find out…
I was recently invited by the team at Marco Pierre White Newcastle to sample their a’la carte menu and finally make my first visit to the popular steakhouse & grill restaurant. The restaurant opened a few years back with much fanfare, even a visit from MPW himself, and since, there’ve been mixed reviews from diners and bloggers alike. I was pretty skeptical myself, after a VERY disappointing meal at the MPW Islington on a work-away trip (I won’t go into it!), but we decided to keep an open mind and headed there a few weeks ago.
If you Google the restaurant, you’ll find plenty of claims that this place is “the best steak in Newcastle – hands down” (admittedly, it’s their own claim), so I was very keen to find out if this was the case, especially after the abysmal experience I had at the Islington spot.
For a Thursday night, it was considerably busy and we were shown to our booth table by a very friendly and upbeat member of staff to browse the menu and await our waiter. The booth tables, I should mention, look lovely, however when getting in there you may find that it’s pretty tight. I for one knocked the side of my leg when scooting across and had a monster of a bruise the next day. But, anyway, back to the food and experience of Marco Pierre White Newcastle…
The restaurant is dotted with multiple pictures of Marco Pierre White himself and the decor is pretty standard: think cream leather booths, white table clothed tables and dim lighting. A comfortable and pleasant environment, but nothing to really write home about. For example, it’s no 21. There’s a window into the kitchen so you can see the chefs do their business, and the music is a mixture of vocal electronica and instrumental, which was pleasant and not overbearing enough to interrupt conversation.
Our waiter, Keith, was super friendly and efficient, quickly walking us through the wine list. We decided (since it’s a steak restaurant and all!) that we’d go for their house red, a French Pinot Noir priced at £20, their cheapest bottle of red in fact, which to be honest, I thought was a little steep for a bottle of the house plonk.
That said, it was a lovely wine and perhaps the restaurant group had made the decision to buy in better and raise the standard, hence the slight price hike compared to your average. Who knows? We ended up ordering a second bottle during our meal, so it was definitely a good ‘un.
We went for bread and olives (£3.75) first and cast our orders. The bread was fresh and olives SO good, packed with garlic and herbs and quite the size, but still, I was beginning to see a trend… is it just me or is £3.75 for a little ramekin of olives totally extortionate?!
Before long, starters arrived. I went for the much-hyped Lobster Macaroni (£11.95) and my boyfriend went for the Crispy Calamari (£7.95), which both arrived on time and were nicely presented. Our visit to Marco Pierre White Newcastle came just after we’d returned from holiday, where I had enjoyed quite possibly the nicest lobster pasta dish I have ever eaten, so unfortunately for MPW, they were being measured against that. Sadly, it didn’t quite measure up.
The sauce was pretty gloopy and the macaroni just a little bit underdone, but nothing could get me over the fact it tasted so overwhelmingly of fish. Not in a good way. Now, I’m no idiot, I know that lobster is seafood and blah blah blah, but it was just way too much of a fishy taste. Like, not fresh kinda fishy taste.
It killed every other possible flavour that could have been in the dish. I made a good attempt to eat it, but after a short while, the flavour got too much and I called it a day. For just shy of £12, I was pretty disappointed, especially when you bear in mind the Lobster Mac is like their ‘flagship’ starter. Given my chance again, I’d probably have gone for the safe bet of baked camembert.
My boyfriend’s calamari was a slight improvement. A generous portion of fresh calamari, served with a tartare sauce and the obligatory aioli, and a fresh lemon. The batter could have been crispier and the calamari itself was slightly on the rubbery side, but in comparison to that Lobster Macaroni, it was at least palatable.
A pretty disappointing start, especially when you remember that Marco Pierre White himself has three Michelin stars (the only chef to boast such an achievement!) and considering the constant reminders that it’s ‘his’ restaurant (his face, like I mentioned above, is EVERYWHERE), you’d expect a much higher standard. Hopefully, the main courses would be better.
And mostly, they were. I deliberated over the steaks, but made a last-second change of mind and chose the Roast Rump of Lamb (£22.95) which came with fresh veg and my favourite thing ever: potato dauphinoise. The dish was tied up nicely with tasty roasting juices, and as promised, the meat was herb-crusted and served pink. Perhaps, on this occasion, a little too pink, but nonetheless it looked delicious and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Everything on the plate was well-seasoned and piping hot. The potato dauphinoise was obscenely creamy and I’ll never tire of how amazing it is when served with rich lamb. The lamb was tender and I loved the vibrant herby crust, especially when complimented by the delicious jus.
All in all, a really great main course and one I’d definitely eat again, albeit with lamb that was a little less on the rare side. Even for me, it was a little much and I imagine some people would have sent it back.
My boyfriend went for the fillet steak (£31.95!) which came with fries, a green salad and “roasted” tomatoes. He also ordered the pepper sauce (an extra £3.50) and asked for his steak to be cooked medium. After it arrived, we quickly realised that the vine tomatoes weren’t roasted at all, it was just a bunch of tomatoes plonked on the plate.
On a positive note, the pepper sauce was rich and very tasty, and the steak was cooked exactly how he had asked for it, but when you pay upwards of £30 for a steak main course, I don’t think there should be anything to complain about. All steak dishes come with fries, there’s no option to change these for thick-cut chips, if that’s your bag, so he was also a little disappointed there.
During our meal I asked if it was it the “best steak in Newcastle – hands down?” and he wasn’t too convinced, and again, I think if a restaurant is positioning itself as a steakhouse, it should unequivocally be the best god-damn steak you’ve ever consumed. There should be really no room for improvement. There are plenty of great places in Newcastle that offer great steaks at a snip of the price, like Bistro Forty6, for example, so the price to quality ratio is, sadly, a just a little ‘off’ at Marco Pierre White Newcastle.
We decided to split a dessert and went for the New York Baked Cheesecake (£6.75) which was served with fresh berries and orange and a raspberry sorbet. The whole arrangement was really pretty and tasted even better, and considering I’m the last person to rave about a dessert, it really was something to shout about. The cheesecake was, as you’d expect, pretty rich, so there was plenty to share between two.
Clearly, the restaurant is onto something with their dessert, as I’ve seen some other hype regarding the rest of the dessert menu. Had I had space in my stomach, I would have gone for the cheese board to compliment the rest of our wine.
Overall, our Marco Pierre White Newcastle experience was a pretty mixed-bag. Their inconsistency is surprising, given the price of most of the dishes on the menu and the fact that it’s a Marco Pierre White signature restaurant, it just SHOULD be better. People will go to the restaurant because of the name, so I believe standards should be 100% at all times. Given how hit-and-miss both our courses were, I think there’s work to be done there.
The location is excellent, just a stone’s throw away from Central Station, and it’s part of Hotel Indigo, so you have the added bonus of a nice lounge out front if you decide to chill for a bit after your dinner. That said, we both felt very aware that we were in a hotel – it’s also the same spot that breakfast is served to guests in the morning, and something jarred with me there as I feel MPW should be set apart – even just for brand purposes.
Service was really good, with Keith remaining friendly and professional throughout our visit, as well as Bruno (who I think was the manager) stopping by our booth for a polite natter here and there. The ‘experience’ was an enjoyable one, but I just wish there was more consistency with the food.
There is simply too much competition in Newcastle to warrant anything below par.
Would we go back? Probably not – for the price and the general lack of atmosphere in the restaurant, I feel like we’d opt for somewhere else if we were really craving a steak in Newcastle. It’s nothing personal, it just wasn’t for us.
I have no problem with high prices when the quality and experience makes it worth it, and I just didn’t feel like Marco Pierre White Newcastle was worth it. I re-read this review before publishing and noted that the word I have used to sum up a LOT of our experience was “disappointed” – there were just more negatives than positives and no amount of good service could make up for the fact that the food was, pretty average. Sorry guys.
We were invited to sample Marco Pierre White Newcastle and offered a complimentary meal for the purpose of this review. As you can see, all comments are true to experience. Main image credit to Hotel Indigo/Marco Pierre White Newcastle.