Happy New Year everyone!
We ended 2019 on a high by spending a lovely afternoon grazing at a super cool restaurant called Träkol next to the Tyne Bridge (Gateshead side). Träkol is part of By The River Brew Co. – an independent container community that also has a brewery and tap room, a bike shop, a coffee house and cocktail bar. And look at that view!
Träkol describes itself as “an ingredient led, flavour driven restaurant that showcases seasonal and ethical cooking with a fresh focus on preservation, dry ageing and cooking over fire.” Very interesting ethos – I was curious about the cooking over fire aspect as I think it’s quite a skilful thing to be able to manage the char on food so that it adds flavour rather than just tasting dry and burnt….
The December menu was quite varied, with options for raw/cured things, fresh oysters and roasted meats and fish for mains. They say that their “food reflects the seasons” and they post their monthly menu on Instagram so you can check it out before you go! We did pore over the menu for a while, as it was hard to gauge how much food to order, but the staff helped us along the way.
We settled on a combination of two snacks, one small plate, two raw oysters each, a cured dish and three mains for 5 people. Too much?? Nope, it was perfect 🙂
We had no idea what to expect from the Crispy Pigs Tails with mission spice. The simple me thought it would be like curly crackling… but they literally were pigs tails. Not much meat but they had a nice glutinous chew, like the fatty bits on pulled pork. Interesting, but I think I preferred the duck croquettes, which were packed full of meat. The burnt apple ketchup was a nice touch too.
The small plates
I tried the beetroot with duck offal, not really my thing as I have a thing about beetroot (too earthy tasting)but I fared better with the cured tuna. The tuna was lovely – perfect cure and the meat-like texture kinda confuses your senses (in a good way).
Then, the OYSTERS. The last time I had raw oysters was over 10 years ago and I have to admit that I did not enjoy it. I remember my sister was really going for it and just slurping them down but I couldn’t do it! So I was a bit apprehensive this time but I had a much better experience this time, though I couldn’t really taste the ginger and clementine in the oysters.
The first of our mains was the whole grilled mackerel with steamed mussels, miso, chilli and coriander. I love a whole fish. Some people can get freaked out by the bone and the head but whole fresh fish was always something we ate growing up so I’m used to it. This mackerel was really fresh and the mussels were super plump and juicy.
The 400g aged sirloin was a great shout too. We had it medium rare and the meat was very tender and melt in the mouth. It came with roasted bone marrow which the staff recommended that we spread it onto the steak for more flavour, which was delicious. The mixed mushrooms were really good too.
The last main was the halibut T-bone with wood roasted celeriac, wild mushrooms and kale. Mushrooms with fish is an interesting combo – I don’t think I’ve seen it before, but it did work and it tasted great. Very original!
I felt pretty satisfied after all that, but obviously still had a dessert because I am gluttonous! But also because one of the dessert choices was “Chocolate & Beer Grain Cake, Chocolate Mousse & Branded Cherries”. I can’t resist any dessert that sounds like Black Forest cake!
This was actually the highlight of the meal for me. The chocolate cake was rich and moist, the mousse was smooth and thick – more like a ganache. The ice-cream was creamy and the boozy cherries were a perfect match. I loved it!
All in all, a great meal – I recommend! I didn’t have a beer but there was an extensive beer menu since there is a dedicated brewery next door! There were some interesting choices, like the coffee and tonka bean sour. Plus the chocolate and raspberry stout (I was told) was fantastic accompaniment to the chocolate cake dessert.
Container communities seem to be popping up everywhere; there is also Stack in Newcastle city centre and Hatch in Manchester, but By the River Brew Co is smaller and more intimate. They also host HWKRMRKT, a hawker market on the weekends with street food and independent traders – I will have to try and go again on a weekend.
If you’re up in the North-East this place is a must-visit – even Jay Rayner says so!
Online: By the River Brew Co.