I’m doing plenty of eating breakfast out at the minute. Probably because I’m actually awake early enough. I find it heaps easier to wake up and then actually drag my arse out of bed when it’s light out. In winter I’m comatose for a lot longer. There’s a distinct possibility I’d hibernate if I could get away with it. But in summer, once the sun’s up, I’m ready to go and desperate for a good breakfast with some good company.
Enter Ernest. No, that’s not the name of a real person, but rather a friendly neighbourhood cafe/restaurant/bar in the über-trendy Ouseburn area of Newcastle, tucked just behind The Biscuit Factory. It’s exactly the sort of laidback cool place that you’d invite all of your favourite chums, or perhaps your family (kids are very welcome), to. On a sunny morning with light streaming in through the windows the place really comes into its own. The staff are friendly and there is no hurry whatsoever to eat up and leave. In fact, with a selection of magazines and books dotted around the place, you are encouraged to stay a while and order an extra cup of coffee (OCC of course).
Looking around you will notice a lot of little quirky personal touches like this, from the chunky wooden menus to the cases of Starwars memorabilia on the wall. The ceiling above the bar is strung with coloured paper lanterns and no wall is left unadorned without a mirror or a picture of some kind. It’s a hipster’s paradise, there’s even exposed piping if you needed further confirmation. There’s also an outdoor seating area for those rare sunny Tyneside days.
Focusing on the food is easy. The menu is varied, homely and the emphasis is clearly on big taste and interesting flavours. The food is all cooked fresh. On a recent Friday morning visit we order the Chorizo Hash, which comes with a poached egg, spinach and hollandaise mayonnaise, for the child, the Ernest Large breakfast for the boyfriend and then I opt for a Design Your Own breakfast. I ask for bacon, scrambled eggs, some rainbow rosti, homemade beans, mushrooms and sausages. Each item is roughly £1. I also ask for halloumi but there isn’t any available. Woe. There also isn’t any black pudding so the boyfriend is a bit miffed but the staff swap for other items on the menu and, soon enough, everyone’s happy. We team this with an assortment of fresh juices and coffee. Perfection.
After a brief flick through a handy copy of The Crack the food arrives. The homemade beans are a treat. Better than the ones I had at Spoon in Edinburgh recently. Although I will recommend you go for the beans with cheese, rather than on their own. So good. The only slight disappointment was the rainbow rosti. I had thought that might be more like a large, moist, potato hashbrown, rather than a pile of crispy purple crumbs. The chorizo hash however, is divine. So meaty and tasty. There’s a chalk board behind us advertising the ultimate Ernest Hangover Cure; chorizo and cheesy beans on toast with either a Bloody Mary or Cider. I can only image that this must be all kinds of fabulous. I might have to get this next time, with a side of halloumi. Or maybe the Heuvos Rancheros. With a side of halloumi.
The main menu looked wonderful too. Fuss-free, well put together and packed with flavours that will no doubt compliment each other well. I’ve already earmarked the Pancetta and Gruyère Flatbread and the Steak Sandwich for an upcoming lunchtime trip. I’m reliably informed that the menus are changeable depending on the seasons so who knows what delights will be in store by the time this so-called summer is over. Get yourself down there fast to sample their current menu. I’m guessing, if your visit is anything like mine was, it will be your first of many trips.
Check out Ernest for yourself why don’t you? Head to 1 Boyd Street, Ouseburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1AP and don’t forget to follow @weareernest on Twitter.
Editor’s note: Thank you to the lovely and very talented Liz Wan for letting us use her image of Ernest as the front-page cover picture. Check out her website to see more of her fantastic photography and if you need a wedding photographer… look no further!