Combining a whole host of my favourite things, Six at the Baltic recently sent me an invitation I couldn’t refuse. Dinner, drinks, intelligent company and arguably the most beautiful views of the city I now call home. All in celebration of the impending re-launch of their private dining experience. Being something of a (self proclaimed?!) girl about town and giddy at the prospect of some of the amazing food that Six regularly send out of their kitchen, I’m zipping myself into a slinky dress, throwing on some heels and joining the party before you can say “coffee and petit fours will be served in the viewing box”.
My night didn’t start too well. Usually perfectly on time for everything*, I find myself 10 minutes late, trapped at the top end of town by the NUFC match traffic, attempting to make my way down to the quayside in the dark and drizzle. It was painfully slow progress. Thankfully I manage (cheers for the lift Hannah!), dashing across the iconic Millennium eye bridge in stilettos like some sort of deranged Cinderella, and manage to catch my breath in the lifts. Up on the fifth floor and somewhat more composed, I take my seat at the table with other food bloggers and members of the press, next to some familiar faces, and am greeted and poured a glass of champagne (Laurent Perrier, none of the cheap stuff, thank you) by frighteningly stealthy Six waiting staff. My night has taken a glamorous turn.
Just as an early aside; you will note that my photos of the evening are less than wonderful. This is partially due to the fact that I was using my iPhone (sorry!) and partially because the lighting at dinner was quite a dark orangey-red, no doubt to help create the intimate ambience we enjoyed on the night, but alas not great for pictures. Also partially due to the silent wine ninjas that kept slipping in and topping up my glass every time I took a sip. That’s who I’m choosing to blame for any ill effects the next day too.
The private dining room on level five is a space that’s normally part of the gallery but is curtained off for the occasion. It’s dominated by the stunning west-facing glass wall which looks out over the Tyne, the bridges and the city, and does a better job of setting the tone for the evening than any token decorations would.
First course seemed to take a little while to come, by which time we’d all relaxed and put away a fair bit of the aforementioned wine. I imagine that, in the event that you’d booked this room, dinner would start more promptly as the guests’ food orders have to be submitted no less than a week beforehand. For our meal the kitchen were having to cater to 25 hungry, demanding and critical mouths who had only just seen the menu and placed their orders. I had chosen the Pigeon and Ham Hock Terrine, Celeriac Purée with Spiced Fig and it was really good. Meatier than I was expecting but delicious and packed with flavour. To be perfectly honest I felt that the other guff; the purée and fig, was a bit neither here nor there. The terrine was lovely but the superfluous fluffing was pretty much just plate decoration as it didn’t add to the flavours of the dish at all. If that all sounds a bit negative, I don’t mean it to because I enjoyed the terrine very much and the other components of the dish barely even registered. It’s worth mentioning that Hannah (of Raspberry Kitsch fame), who was sitting to my left, kindly let me try each of her dishes too. She had chosen the Treacle Cured Salmon, Fine Bean and Radish Salad with Sesame and Wasabi mayonnaise. It’s sides had an entirely different feel from mine, less traditionally English and more adventurous. It was nice to have a fish choice, although I did prefer the terrine.
For my main course I again went for the meaty choice (obvs) in the Barbary Duck Breast, Roast Nectarine, Broccoli and Violet Potatoes served with Lavender Jus. I was suitably impressed with this dish. Largely because the duck was divine. Still pink in the middle and velvety soft without an ounce of fat on it. The violet potatoes were smooth and waxy, the roast nectarine was pleasantly different and kept the dish feeling light and added that fruitiness that goes so well with duck. The lavender jus is something that, for me, the jury is still out on. It was nice, it went well with the dish and, perhaps were I not focusing quite so much on the food, I’d have enjoyed it more. But as it was I just felt that it was lacking in depth. I wanted it to be a bit richer and meatier than it was. But I’m fully aware that that’s my personal preference for meaty, red wine-y liquor coming into play. Don’t worry, I’m not so uncivilised that I think it’s my way or the highway. I did however think that the presentation could’ve been better. My plate just seemed to have the food put it on it any old way, off-centre for some reason, though I accept that some of that could’ve happened in transit between the kitchen and the table. There was also a small amount of some green purée which had no real detectable taste. Luckily the duck was nice enough for me to ignore that and overall I was very happy with the main course. Hannah (I *might* have tried hers again) had chosen the Roast Fillet of Cod served with Boulangere Potatoes, Girolles and Sweetcorn with Chicken Jus. It was a fair bit nicer than the fish starter had been, althought it didn’t really rival the delicious duck.
For dessert we deliberated over the cheesecake and the layered brownie cake for so long that although Hannah and I eventually chose the cheesecake, when the time came to be served dessert they brought us a plate of the decadent brownie cake to share too. What absolute little stars. Six were certainly generous with both the food and the drinks and we were spoilt rotten the whole night. So, that’s the White Chocolate Cheesecake, Blackberries and Lemon Sorbet and the Triple Layered Brownie Cake (sexy) with Peanut Butter Ice Cream. The cheesecake is heavy but we’re given an appropriate sized slice and the sorbet freshens the whole thing up. The brownie cake is three layers of chocolatey heaven and the peanut butter ice cream was a tasty novelty. I honestly couldn’t tell you which dessert I preferred.
Dinner was followed by being escorted upstairs to the Six viewing box on the top floor of the Baltic to further appreciate the spectacular views of the bridges and the quayside at night. We’re served tea, coffee, more wine (looking at you, Lauren!) and petit fours which included some fresh ginger jellies and handmade white chocolate and cherry fudge. Both very sickly but beautiful. I ate more than my fair share. Although, word to the wise, finish your wine first as the sweets will ruin the wine and vice versa. With hindsight coffee would’ve been a smarter, soberer choice.
The important facts to remember with this story is that you too could be enjoying this experience. This whole evening is available to hire for your private party and/or corporate event. Cool, hey? For those times you want to show someone a good time, impress some business associates or celebrate an event in classy, contemporary Baltic style, confident that your evening will be catered with a certain je ne sais quoi and that every little detail will be taken care of. For the very reasonable, but definitely Special Occasion cost of £250 set-up fee and £37.50 per head for the meal, you will receive the same treatment we did for 15-25 guests, which includes the standard table setting, all cutlery, linen and a seasonal floral arrangement in the centre of the tables, name cards for your guests and menu reminders. The menu is a three course meal, plus tea/coffee, which Six request that you get your guests to choose from and then pre-order prior to the event. The evening that we enjoyed was complimentary, offered to select local writers, bloggers and press and I’d like to profoundly thank Christina, Lauren and Six for my invite. See you all at the next one, yeah? (I’m kidding, I’m kidding!)