Yes chaps, yet more song-lyric butchery. All in the name of love. The love of food.
Sometimes the food, and service, somewhere is so good that these reviews practically write themselves. Electric East is one of those places.
I’m obviously aware that it’s not new. Believe me I’ve eaten here a fair few times in the past, but I realised that I’d never pulled it apart on sarahbosson.com and surely all my favourite eateries in NCL (and beyond) deserve that honour.
Aside from a minor name alteration, very little has changed since they originally opened as Barn Asia in 2008. But then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? They’ve certainly got the winning combination right here. As Barn Asia the joint attracted plenty of attention, winning a Remy Martin Award for excellence and featuring in The Times top 100 list. That’s why, I must admit, it did come as a bit of surprise to hear of the restaurant’s closure in 2011. I mean, it’s usually pretty quiet when we’re in there but I can literally never understand why. It is, in my humble (ish) opinion, one of Newcastle city centre’s true culinary gems and should be full to the rafters every evening with people enjoying fantastic food. Luckily for me and the NE restaurant scene someone else thought so too and stepped in to save the day. Enter Phil Collerton of Gosforth on his white steed. Probably. He bought the place out when it went into administration and managed to retain the charm and appeal of the original restaurant, employing the same chefs and keeping the décor and furnishings the same. He even employed previous owner Mark Legun, who is quite clearly in his element as passionate host and front-of-house smooth talker. Mark himself sourced all of the recipes and furniture that you will enjoy in the restaurant today on his travels around Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. This goes some way to explain the authentic base flavours of most of the dishes. The tastes and smells of the food certainly remind me of my time spent in Singapore and Thailand. Also, I’m fairly sure Mark used to live on my old street, on Westgate Hill Terrace a few years ago, where my first cat Louie used to terrorize his dogs.
With a flair for fusing South East Asia’s best in both their food and décor this restaurant was always going to be somewhere I, and as of four years ago, my other half regularly frequent. It is however a little on the pricey side and therefore must be reserved for days when we’re feeling pretty pleased with our bank balances. Or sometimes days when the lure of the shaking beef is just too much to resist.
Speaking of the food, it really is a treat for sore, Cuppasoup-scorched taste buds. The menu is a delight. It suggests the reader try ordering a few smaller dishes as a tapas style affair, although there are plenty of options to have a more traditional ‘starter, main course, dessert’ arrangement. On my most recent visit (tonight) we ordered the scallops with pork & peanut caramel, the impossibly soft and tender rendang beef with roti bread, rice & chutney, Thai curry crispy rice balls with toasted pistachio’s & lemon dressing and the ‘Legendary’ Vietnamese Shaking Beef served with a little spoon thing of steamed rice. This, I’m reliably informed by the menu, is marinated strips of beef fillet cooked in a hot skillet with birds eye chillies, lime juice and sugar, served with a salad of rocket, tomato and onion. It’s to die for. As is the rendang, which I would happily eat all day, everyday. I made a beeline for it when I spotted it on the Electric East stall at the Highbridge Festival this year. We added a bowl of steamed rice and a couple of drinks and the bill came to a very agreeable £35. That coupled with the brilliant and attentive staff and the laid back atmosphere and you can guarantee you’ll be going home satisfied and, I hope, planning your next visit.