“ Address: 108 The Quayside / Newcastle / NE1 3DX / Telephone: 0191 232 4110 „
During my regular visits to Newcastle to see my son at the university, one of my favourite places to take him for a meal is the Pitcher and Piano. Although this restaurant is part of a large chain it is still a place that I would choose above the many others in Newcastle due to its wonderful location. This restaurant is one of the few that is right on the banks of the Tyne; sitting either inside or outside, you get a wonderful view and that sense of relaxation that looking at a river gives. The food in the restaurant is good, but the views and location are wonderful!
~~ The Restaurant ~~
This is a very modern building and as such has the flexibility to make the entire front wall completely out of glass, providing a beautiful and clear view of the River Tyne, the beautiful Millennium Bridge and across the river the shining Sage building and the Baltic art gallery. All in all it is a pretty impressive view and one which is just as beautiful at night, when the whole riverside and bridges are lit up by twinkling lights that reflect in the water.
Outside the restaurant has taken advantage of the location and put plenty of tables out - all of which are available for both eating and drinking, and take the customers very close to the water. Inside the area is light and airy, with a mezzanine first floor, a huge ground floor bar to the left and a slightly raised ground floor eating area to the right.
The upper floor is only opened up when the downstairs gets very busy and has a mixture of comfortable sofas and tables for eating. The view is not quite so good from the upper floor and I always prefer to sit downstairs, although it can get quite packed with drinkers at busy times.
~~ The Food ~~
The best thing about the food at the Pitcher and Piano is that there is always something for everybody and for every mood. I like the grazing menu particularly - often after the long journey from down south I don't really fancy a full meal, so we just go for a drink and a snack. This restaurant offers a large grazing menu, charging either £11.50 for three dishes, £7.50 for two dishes or around £4.00 for an individual dish. The choices include fried Halloumi, mini fish cakes, calamari, chicken wings and much more - all really tasty combinations that make eating out a very flexible affair.
For a lunch there is a good range of wraps, Panini's and soups, but I usually prefer to either choose a grazing combination or a full meal. One of my favourites is chicken, brie and potato salad, a lovely mix of the textures and tastes of pan fried chicken and creamy Cornish brie on a bed of fresh spinach and a really delicious honey and mustard dressing. I particularly love the slow roasted tomatoes on this dish, I can't get enough of them and the dish costs a very reasonable £9.50. On a Sunday my boys look forward to the full Sunday roast, but on a couple of Sundays they have been disappointed as a busy daytime trade means that the roast has run out by the evening. Poor management perhaps, or just a desire to only serve the freshest food and have nothing left over?
On my last visit I found a new addiction; our cheerful waiter wholeheartedly recommended the white chocolate and honeycomb cheesecake for £4.75. This came with a warm chocolate sauce on top which wasn't on the menu and as an ex-waitress myself made me wonder if the high recommendation came because they wanted to shift the cheesecake, and the hot chocolate sauce was disguising some dryness!
Either way, all three of us found it totally delicious or I would happily order it every time I eat at the Pitcher and Piano.
~~ Service and Atmosphere ~~
The waiting staff are invariably cheery, smiling, friendly people and this really adds to the occasion. Dishes arrive very quickly; white wine is always nicely chilled, and extra drinks are quick and easy to order.
The atmosphere of the restaurant differs wildly according to the day of the week and the hour of the day. I think it is a big drinking venue during most evenings, but we have usually moved on by then. If things are getting rowdy downstairs it is nice to be able to sit away from it all upstairs.
Even at quiet times the atmosphere is buzzing and my son always seems to meet people he knows taking their parents out for a meal too.
~~ The Toilets ~~
The ladies toilets are on the first floor and very well fitted out. There are plenty of cubicles and sinks, and they offer nice hand wash and hand cream at every sink. My one criticism is that every time I have visited they are untidy and bordering on dirty. They look as if they have a good clean every day, so the toilets themselves are nice and clean - but the room itself is uncared for, with paper towels on the floor, hand cream dribbling down the side of the dispensers and rubbish lying all around. I have found this to be the case during the day as well as the evening, and it would be nice to see a bit more care taken here.
My sons report that the male toilets are located on the ground floor and are "very good". They did not notice any untidiness - but I'm not sure I would trust them to notice this anyway!
~~ Conclusion ~~
As you may gather, the Pitcher and Piano is one of my favourite places to eat in Newcastle and ideal for an informal meal that caters for a wide variety of tastes. My last meal there with my two sons came to £53.55 for all three of us - with two courses and a couple of drinks each. Very reasonable, I thought.
It is also one of the few places that I would happily sit and eat on my own - and on my last visit I did rather enviously watch a young lady sit outside eating a three course meal on her own as she watched the riverside activities without being hassled or embarrassed in any way.
Pitcher and Piano
Newcastle, NE1 3DX
Right on the Newcastle Quayside with views of the Tyne and the Millennium Bridge the Pitcher and Piano is a very light and airy bar and has a relaxed atmosphere.
One problem with the bar is that it takes AGES to get served as there are never many staff on. SO you can sometimes be waiting about 10 minutes to get a drink.
Prices are also on the higher side. For a large glass of house white you are looking at £5.50. Pints are £3.
The bar attracts a mix of people younger and older. There are lots of seats however lots of places to stand also. The bar does get busy on a weekend but on a week night it is very quiet. It does attract a number of stag and hen parties on a weekend as there is a travel lodge just over the road but doesn't get too rowdy as these groups head further into the centre of town looking for less sedate entertainment. The bar always seems busy between 7pm and 9pm but mainly as most people meet here then head off elsewhere!
In better weather there are lots of areas outside to sit and relax and look over the quayside.
It's a really nice bar as a place to start off a night or go for a few drinks during the day, but not somewhere to go if you are looking for a lively Newcastle night out... there are plenty more places on the quayside where you can sample that!!
Pitcher and Piano
Centrally located on Newcastle's quayside, this is a place we go to frequently for either drinks in the evening or a weekend lunch. The large glass fronted building is situated right by the river next to the Millenium Bridge and opposite the Baltic contemporary Arts Museum. For this reason, it does tend to get very busy, especially in the summer months when there are people practically littering the floor around the bar- there just never seem to be enough seats!
There are several entrances into the bar, all of which lead to the long bar which takes up the length of the ground floor. Stocking all kinds of drinks at quite inflated prices, beware, doubles are always served- you have to specifically request a single. The bar does look very efficient with its mirrored back drop and many many bottles of some quite exotic looking drinks- this is probably for the large range of cocktails (sold at about £5.50 each).
The room is large and there are plenty of little places to sit on the comfy seats in hidden away places. For people wanting to see and be seen there are high stools and tables, and sofas dotted around the windows- very hot when it's sunny and I think a bit bleak next to all of that glass on a cold grey afternoon. At night though, it's all very twinkly, and anywhere is usually pleasant although at weekends, it's usually standing room only.
At the back of the bar area is the dining area, where a selection of food can be ordered includingStarters and Light bites from £3.50 for the potato wedges, Open Sandwiches from £5.50 for the Crayfish and Rocket. We then have a good selection of main courses including such dishes as Derbyshire Pork and Apple sausages (£8.50), Minted Lamb (£9.95) and Confit of Duck leg (£10.95). there are also grills and pizzas, and a dessert menu although I never get to this stage because I usually order far too many of the side dishes! Diners in this area sit either in booths or at tables on chairs which are quite comfortable, and because the tables are dotted about the room, it doesn't feel too regimented.
Upstairs is more seating area for diners, and this area, with its own terrace can be hired for private functions. When not hired out, guests are welcome to sit on the terrace, but again, it doe get very busy.
~~Other bits of information~~
The Ladies toilets are upstairs, while the men's toilets are downstairs- a tad unfair for we ladies trying to fight our way past the crowds on a Saturday night. They are however clean, and there are plenty of them.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 2324110
I do tend to find myself here quite often, either in the afternoon following a shopping trip or at night with friends. The bar is very child friendly and children are made welcome in the afternoon- there are always plenty of families here so no need to feel embarrassed about it being a bar. It's actually quite continental in feel, and very relaxed with more of a coffee culture in the afternoons.
It does get very busy in the summer, often with groups of people who have come to Newcastle for the weekend and who are nursing their hangovers with a hair of the dog on a Sunday afternoon. Close to the revamped quayside market, there are also lots of people who have been to the market and want a rest.However, even when busy, service is usually good, and even when sitting outside, the staff bring meals quickly.
For a meal or a drink in pleasant surroundings, with a great view, I would recommend it. The menu features something for everyone, and if you can get there in less warm months, it's worth just sitting and looking out at the new Millenium Bridge.
Thanks for reading...watch out for those doubles!
Great food! Great atmosphere!