Seriously, how lucky are we to live in the North East? We have the coast, the countryside and a bajillion wonderful restaurants right on the doorstep, including, the incredible Artisan at The Biscuit Factory, Shieldfield.
Having visited a couple of times previously, including running my own event in their very lovely private dining space, I was delighted to be invited to their February ‘Seasonal Showcase’, the Decadent Dinner.
These events, hosted on the first Wednesday of every month, is Artisan’s opportunity to showcase their awesome culinary wizardry. There’s a different theme every month (seasonal menus, duh!) and usually feature a mouth-watering menu comprising of 5-7 courses.
I’d meant to go to one forever, so now was my chance.
Naturally, based on the fact the menus vary each month, the prices does too, and the Decadent Dinner theme was also, fairly pricey at £49.50 per head, with an optional flight of wine for £25 per person. While, admittedly quite the expensive night out, the menu kinda justifies it. See for yourself:
Served with Ca’del Console Prosecco Extra Dry
Jerusalem Artichoke & Truffle Soup
Served with warm gougère and some beautiful artisan bread
Carpaccio of Scallops and Sea Bream
Along with crab, blood orange and fennel (aka, a seafood lover’s dream!)
Tasting of Lamb
The main event: lamb loin, shoulder and belly, with creamed potato and spinach and a gorgeous jus
Rhubarb and Custard
Aka. ice cream with a biscuit crumble
Dark Chocolate Pavé
Served with sea salt butter caramel, pistachio ice cream and cinder toffee, otherwise known as dessert heaven!
SEE! They weren’t messing about.
And the oyster certainly wasn’t a regular oyster (as you can see from the pic above!), as it came encased a cucumber and horseradish jelly with some caviar on top. Delightful!
So let’s start with the soup…
The warm gougère (which is so decadent I’d not actually heard of it before!) was a delight and I can only say I was disappointed there wasn’t more of it, as it was the perfect partner for the soup.
Next up was the scallop and sea bream carpaccio, the course I was most looking forward to personally, being such a huge seafood fan. This gorgeous course was light, zesty, packed with flavour and surprisingly quite plentiful.
That’s probably the biggest compliment I could give the Artisan effort here, because I dream of that Ceviche version on a frequent basis.
For main course we were treated to a tasting of lamb, a dish that made the absolute most of one of my favourite meats. Think a perfectly cooked loin, an encrusted lollipop, crispy belly and beautifully smooth creamed potato with spinach.
My least favourite of the bunch was probably the lollipop, but that’s real nit-picking. I could have eaten that all day long, but there was still 2 more courses to go…
We were then given a palate cleanser of Rhubarb and Custard, a rich ice cream that took me waaaay back to my childhood, when my Grandad would grow amazing rhubarb and my Nana would make the best crumble out of it. Or y’know, even just the rhubarb and custard sweets.
Then before we knew it, it was time. The final course. I felt almost sad about it (aside from the fact I don’t think my stomach could have taken anymore!) after such a wonderful series of courses.
The dessert, a super-rich dark chocolate pavé, was served with super sweet and amazing sea salt caramel, pistachio ice cream and delightfully crisp cinder toffee slabs.
As I say constantly on this site, I’m not a huge dessert fan and usually opt-out, but I can’t indulge in a tasting menu without finishing it. It was a little bit on the rich side for my personal taste, but if you’re into chocolate, you’d be into this.
Incidentally, there’s a similar dessert on the menu for their Nose to Tail Seasonal Showcase in March.
The whole experience was fantastic, with efficient and friendly service, a reasonably priced wine list (we opted for a bottle of Malbec rather than taking the wine flight) and a chic setting, boasting lovely solid wood tables and a variety of unique art dotted about the place.
When I’d posted on my Twitter/Instagram that we’d been to Artisan at The Biscuit Factory, I received a number of comments from people who’d dined previously saying that there was no atmosphere, but thanks to the place being really busy for this “event”, I personally didn’t feel that was the case.
Granted, there was an older crowd than I have seen there on previous visits, but I guess the high price point could explain that. I also liked the fact that diners were served on their own tables rather than a collective event where you have to make small-talk with total strangers.
As a result, we had all the benefits of an exclusive supper-club type event, without the awkwardness of pretending to listen to what your neighbour is saying when you’re really trying to spy how much they’re dishing out for themselves. Guilty.
Based on the amazing quality, variety and presentation of the courses on offer, I would absolutely recommend Artisan at The Biscuit Factory and their fantastic Seasonal Showcase events.
The nature of this one allowed head chef Andrew Wilkinson and his team the perfect opportunity to shine and show diners how it’s done, and my boyfriend and I were so impressed we’ve already listed the next ones we plan to attend.
Oh, and Sunday lunch. And their half-price wine night on a Thursday. Ah yes, and Fish Friday.
Vegetarians needn’t feel left out either, because every Tuesday there’s a vegetarian tasting menu from £25 per person.
As you can see from their website, the upcoming themes have something to suit every taste and prices vary depending on the theme, so you don’t have to go all “big spender” to enjoy it.
An all-round awesome evening!
Check out the Artisan at The Biscuit Factory website for more information on their daily offers. Call 0191 260 5411 to book.
We were offered complimentary meals for the purpose of this review, however all views expressed are true to experience and unbiased. Big thanks to the team for the invite and for looking after us!