My first ever review was on Friday 28th July 2017. That day took my breath away. That day I reviewed Branches Ponteland… So on my ‘one year restaurant reviewing anniversary’, there was only one place I could go to celebrate…
Branches have two restaurants, the original in Ponteland and the latest ‘branch’ in Jesmond. Jesmond is a hotbed for new, innovative cuisine at present and the arrival of Branches has emphasised that. According to Branches,
Branches Restaurant aimed to provide its customers a contemporary relaxed dining experience set in a modern décor surrounding. Our chef’s source the freshest, local, “best of British” produce direct from nearby suppliers, farms and markets. They have crafted our à la carte menu, 5 Course Taste of Branches, Sunday lunch & Children’s Menu. Dietary requests can be taken in to consideration please call the restaurant if you have any specific requests.
So here I was, a year on, reminiscing on my time from Branches first time around… Was Branches Jesmond going to impress just as much as Branches Ponteland? I was about to find out…
Formally The Cherry Tree, Branches Jesmond has reinvigorated the decor into what can only be described as a marvellous, seducing setting. The interior is incredibly sleek and beautifully designed with a remarkable, booming blossom tree in the centre of the restaurant adding to the effect and serene ambience. Our dapper waiter took us to our seats and pleasantly presented us with our menus. For only £22.95, Branches offer a 5 Course Taste of Branches Menu available for lunch between 12 and 2:30 or for dinner between 5 and 7. It is also available up until 6 on Friday and Saturday. As it was 6:45, we went with the Taste of Branches Menu. Our first course was the bread with whipped butter. Two warm, soft buns accompanied with the tastiest butter and a form of coriander style salt. Divine.
To start, we had a choice from four. We went for Smoked Salmon, Celeriac Remoulade, Sour Dough Croutons and Herb Oil as well as Chef’s Soup of the Day which was Cream of Tomato. Without doubt, presentation is part of what makes Branches so special. The salmon dish in particular was organised immensely. Everything was so pretty and precise. It was like the colours of summer shouting and singing on the plate. Not only that, but the taste was enough to help anyone break into a wide grin. Although my soup took a while to cool down, once I eventually was able to tuck in it was like I developed a grinning gurgle in my stomach. Elation.
Next up was Chef’s Intermediate Course. Superbly shaped, the mini fish cake my colleague devoured in seconds had an alluring cuteness. Due to my gluten allergy, I had Greek Cheese Salad which again was wonderfully presented; I was enjoying the subtle enticement of what Branches has to offer.
On with the mains! Again from a choice of four, we decided on Yorkshire Barn Reared Roasted Chicken Breast Duck Fat Fondant Potato, Walled Garden Vegetables and Pickled Mushrooms and Confit Welsh Black Belly Pork, Black Pudding and Sage Fritter, Fennel and Sautéed Potatoes. Both mains were outstanding. The pork was fall apart faultless. The chicken was fit for a king. We were in food heaven. If our meal had ended there we would’ve both been more than happy. Fourth course over, bring on Branches number Five! Dessert! Only Branches had other ideas. Pre-dessert! Two wine glasses filled with refreshing and light caramel mousse, toffee brittle and raspberries encompassing a smoky infusion of tantalising aromas. Branches were full of surprises.
Finally, as my colleague felt she had enough dessert from the mousse, she opted for the Selection of British and Regional Cheeses with Apple Chutney, Crackers, Grapes, Apple and Celery (£2.50 Supplement). Presentation again was key. The cheeseboard of Black Bomber, Brie, Blue and Goat’s was exactly what she required to entirely fulfil her night. Therefore, that left with me three options. I chose Lemon Sponge with Mascarpone, Basil and Lemon Cremeux. Not only was it a taste sensation, but the attention to detail was mind-blowing. The stickiness of the sponge. The sharpness of the lemon. The sweetness of the meringue crunch. I could go on. Everything added to the glory. Branches desserts are dreamy.
If you enjoy the presentation of food just as much as the taste then Branches is the place to be. At £22.95 for five courses (although really it is six) in a beautiful fine dining setting it is incredible value. I remember stating in my initial review that it is not a case of whether or not you should go but how many times you will go back. I stand by that statement. Fine Dining at its triumphant best. Although the area is already known for cool, lavish restaurants, I can safely say Branches has to be up there amongst the best in Jesmond and in the North East. No wonder Head Chef, Rob Cevat (formerly North East Chef of the Year 2015-2016) has guided the restaurant to 3 consecutive diners choice awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Tempting and captivating to the eye, nose and palate, be prepared for Branches to bless your senses. Make it a necessity to go and be prepared to be amazed.