For our latest Tyne & Wear Food & Drink Guide, we caught up with Terry Laybourne to find out his thoughts on the recent growth of the restaurant scene in the North East.
Terry is the chef and restaurateur who runs 21 Hospitality Group, a group of the North East’s most popular and highly regarded restaurants. They include: 21, Caffè Vivo, Café 21 at Fenwick, The Broad Chare, Porterhouse Butcher and Grill and Saltwater Fish Company. They are all based in central Newcastle and are based around the ethos of honest food that has been locally sourced and skilfully prepared. Due to this, we felt that Terry was the perfect person to discuss the thriving food scene in the North East.
“The restaurant scene in the North East has changed a lot in recent years – particularly in Newcastle, where there are more restaurants per square foot than in any other city in the North. In previous years, we have seen a lot of competition from national operators, but independent venues are on the rise and the more firmly established are standing their ground. It’s lovely to see.”
“There couldn’t be a better time to take advantage of the region’s thriving food scene and sample its diverse offerings.”
“Fenwick Food Hall is a bit of a gem in Newcastle’s city centre and there’s always a good-quality culinary event happening in the Tyne and Wear area. We recently teamed up with some of the region’s finest chefs for Anna Hedworth’s charity evening, Something For Syria; it was great to see the likes of Rhian Cradock, Shaun Hurrell and Tony Renwick get involved with Helen Doyle, Chris Eagle and Dan Warren from our own team. It really was a special banquet.”
“Chefs are beginning to triumph in the North East. Kenny Atkinson has come home and had a great success with House of Tides, and James Close is also doing exciting things in the region – his achievements are truly remarkable. I recently visited The Patricia, which is owned and run by Nick Grieves. The meal was beautiful and it’s just my style of food – real, honest cooking with no pretence.”
“I have been known to say that 90 per cent of good cooking is good shopping, and in the North East there are some fantastic craftspeople and producers, many of whom I’ve been lucky enough to work with. Steve Ramshaw from Monkridge Hill Farm has been a partner for years. Anne and Hugh from Ravensworth Grange Farm are worthy of a mention for their Middle White pigs, along with nearby Wylam Brewery for their beer. We consider ourselves lucky to own and run six very different venues, from a fishmonger to a pub, because it means that we have the opportunity to showcase a huge variety of wonderful ingredients.”
“At Porterhouse, our brand-new butcher and grill, we’re proud to present truly amazing local produce. It’s the first time Peter Hannan’s Himalayan-salt-aged beef will be available from a retail outlet in the North. London’s Fortnum & Mason is the only other retailer to sell Peter’s beef in England. I’ve cooked with beef for 35 years and have always struggled to find consistently great suppliers, but since working with Peter I’ve been impressed by every cut.”
“In 2018, 21 Hospitality Group celebrates 30 years on the restaurant scene, and we’ve seen a huge amount of positive change since we started – it’s been an incredibly long and emotional journey. I can assure you it’s worth the hard work, and I’ll always encourage people to get into the industry. Throughout Tyne and Wear we see new restaurants popping up and new chefs coming to the fore all the time, and we’re sure there’s still plenty to come.”
If you’re looking to visit Tyne & Wear or try some new restaurants, pick up a free copy of our Tyne & Wear Food & Drink Guide; check online, or download our Smartphone app for dining inspiration on the go.