If you’ve wandered through Newcastle city centre recently you’ll have no doubt noticed some big changes. Whether it’s the difference in the skyline, or the influx of great new retailers, the rate of response to our needs as customers of this awesome city is uber fast. We’re a nation of shoppers who enjoy lunch with friends and drinks on a Saturday afternoon and Newcastle has acknowledged that and answered the call in a big way….
Anyone who spends time in Newcastle will know that Intu Eldon Square enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years with a new floor space addition to the mall. A victim of its own success however, this left older parts of the mall looking dull in comparison and well, a bit boring. Not any more, the once tired Monument entrance is now the bustling Grey’s Quarter packed to the rafters with awesome eateries and bars which stay open long after the mall has closed.
Tapas Revolution is the latest in a string of restaurants to take up residence in Grey’s Quarter; the brainchild of Spanish TV chef Omar Allibhoy, it’s one mission is to serve true, authentic Spanish food, ethically sourced direct from Spanish farms and suppliers, with no middleman. As part of the big re-brand, I was invited along to brand new Spanish restaurant Tapas Revolution to experience a little Spanish living with a tapas and beer pairing evening
“There’s a great restaurant and bar scene in Newcastle and I can’t wait to get involved in the buzz happening here and bring a little Spanish twist to the city. Tapas Revolution in Eldon Square is my version of the lively and bustling tapas bars in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. We can’t wait to open our doors!” Omar Allibhoy
Omar’s menu takes inspiration from family recipes that he grew up with and Spain’s culinary culture of sharing, socialising and eating. When we arrive he talks us that in Spain, beer is paired with food rather than wine or cocktails and that’s because the flavours marry well to compliment each other. Beers by Estrella Galicia (natch.) are paired with each course of tapas to accentuate the flavour of spices, I’m not a beer drinker at all but I get it, real Spanish beer with authentic Spanish food, it just works.
“My passion for Spanish food is really at the heart of everything I do; my earliest memory is of watching my Mum in the kitchen cooking crème caramel. She was a great baker but a terrible cook so I took over the helm as soon as I was old enough. When I came to the UK I was shocked by the lack of Spanish restaurants and how rarely anyone I spoke to cooked it at home. I decided it was time to do something about it and so my Tapas Revolution began” Omar Allibhoy
Me and fellow North East Blogger Elle Blonde arrived to a super warm welcome and a round of opening cocktails spiked with chilli to ensure we stayed focused and awake. Armed with tasting notes and a stack of Estrella Galicia beers, we were treated to Spanish tortilla, Iberico ham (some of the most expensive ham you can buy and I can vouch for how awesome this is, it’s what I cram my luggage full of when I visit Mama Tenenbaum in Menorca), patatas bravas so good you could forget you’re in a shopping mall in Newcastle and paprika smoked octopus so divine that I had to go back for thirds. Yes, thirds.
Tapas and beer pairing is like a re-awakening of my conscious mind, to me beer is beer, but after reading and absorbing the tasting notes, you really taste the top and mid notes in each beer and understand why each one is paired with a certain taste. For the tee-totalers amongst you (that’s me too) there’s an Estrella 0.0% which is completely alcohol free, and a damn good dupe.
“Tapas is more than food, it’s part of our everyday culture: food and life are always best shared.” Omar Allibhoy
I get the Spanish lifestyle – Mama Tenenbaum has it down to a fine art now and she’d definitely approve of Tapas Revolution, she’s quick to lambast the places that don’t quite hit the mark. From the hanging Serrano hams to the open kitchen, the preparation and service is exactly as you would expect in Spain. Even the tables are set up so the restaurant can receive large parties ready to socialise with really great food as the facilitator to conversation.
Whilst we’re chatting I notice two very important things: 1. Elle Blonde and I both have seriously strong shoe game, and 2. The breakfast menu is to die for. Boasting Ranch and Florentine Eggs, Churros and Bacon Brioche, I make a mental note to return in the AM.
The quality of the food served at Tapas Revolution is second to none, in fact, it’s probably the only ‘real’ tapas restaurant in the city, Omar takes great pride in sourcing only the very best, authentic ingredients, meats and spices for his dishes and it pays dividends. With another five restaurants and a list of celebrity clients as long as his flowing locks, Omar Allibhoy is the real deal.
It’s not just beer on offer at Tapas Revolution, with a huge range of unusual cocktails and rare gins (no surprise there, gin is HUGE in Spain) on the bar menu including my favourite Mahon gin, Xoriguer (another thing I always bring back from Menorca), all served in a traditional balloon glass, exactly as they do in Spain. Kudos Tapas Revolution, I’m really looking forward to bringing Mama Tenenbaum along to taste a little piece of authentic Spain whilst she’s here in the U.K.