L and I recently discovered Newcastle, a pub refreshingly different from our usual hangouts on 17th Ave. The clientele was a mix of office workers and tradesmen, nary a hipster in sight. The music was loud (or perhaps I’m just getting too old), with the likes of Guns and Roses, Van Halen and Nirvana. In the evenings, I noticed that the manager keeps a close eye on the restaurant. I’ve seen him make the rounds with customers to make ensure everyone was happy with their food and beverages.
Newcastle serves about 50 types of beers, ranging from UK imports, domestic and international beers on tap. However, during my last visit, I found out that Newcastle no longer serves my favourite beer, Blanche de Chambly. Oh well, I like Korenburge Blanc ($7.99) which is served in a tall chilled glass. As for the wine list, there are 4 whites and reds offered by the glass.
L and I enjoyed the fish and chips. On a regular night, two pieces of cod and chips cost $12.99. However, on Friday, the price drops to a meagre $10.99. What I like about the fish and chips is that it’s not over salted but rather, under seasoned so you can control the salt content. Servers provide a tray of malt vinegar, ketchup, salt, pepper, mustard and a bbq sauce.
On a good night, the batter was thin and brittle, and unlike some places, it’s more fish than batter. The fish itself was flaky and moist. The fries were served hot, crispy and fried to a golden brown. The tartar sauce was really good – it tasted homemade with a a citrus kick to it. The coleslaw was creamy and tart, with bits of green apple.
On subsequent visits, I’ve noticed that the quality of the food seems to depend on whose in the kitchen. Sometimes the batter was very thin and other days it’s too oily. As well, sometimes the coleslaw was runny or missing green apple. I also noticed the regular fries have been replaced by a crinkle variety. Whenever I eat the crinkle fries at Newcastle, I feel like the kid in the McCain commercials.
During my last visit, I tried the steak special ($11.99). The meat was nicely seared outside and pink in the middle. However, the centre was so chewy that I couldn’t eat it. The side salad tasted and looked old. Still, for pub food, Newcastle isn’t bad, just at times, inconsistent.
Note that the pub fills up fast on Fridays. The last two visits, we managed to get the last table for four. If you plan on eating, be careful what you wear. During one visit, I was breaking in a new pair of jeans. After demolishing a huge platter of fish and chips and a few beers, my bloated belly caused the circulation to be cut off from the waist down.