In late 2013, Head Chef Dave Coulson (Masterchef finalist), decided to open the humorously named Peace and Loaf restaurant and it is the main reason (albeit there are several) why Jesmond is my favourite place to dine around the North East. According to their website,
Dave’s extensive training and tutelage under Michelin two-star rated Michel Roux Jr. has allowed him to pick up intricate skills and his own unique style. This has helped Peace and Loaf to create exciting menus with a difference, featuring traditional British cuisine twinned with Dave’s own special signature touches.
The words I picked out there were intricate skill and unique style which typify Peace and Loaf; gifted chefs preparing quality, elaborate combinations of tastes that can blow your mind.
To get us underway, we were presented by our gracious waiter (who was approachable when necessary) with a concoction of delicate nibbles all representing the gentle sophistication that Peace and Loaf commands. Sitting on a wooden slab was a warm gluten free seeded bread roll alongside beef dripping butter. It took me back to when my late mother cooked Sunday roast and how we’d dip slices of bread into the beef dripping as we waited impatiently for our roast to be served. Along with the loaf came a few mesmerising samples on hexagonal serving boards such as crispy fried kale, spiced Asian fish cake which was an eruption of heat on the palate and the refreshing seaweed cracker that delivered initial smokiness then flavours of the sea at the final hurdle. We hadn’t even ordered anything yet but the standards had been set. That was the preliminary round. It’s as if the chefs were auditioning to showcase what they could do… Whatever it was, they had us. We were enlightened and wanted more.
The A La Carte menu meant business. No determiners, no conjunctions, just the highlights. However, at least this time, the ball was in our court in terms of choice for ‘our’ starters. My choice was Japanese Rice Pudding, Shemji, Sunflower Seed, Chestnut at £12. Where else in the North East are you getting rice pudding to start? Creamy yet infused with a meaty almost barbecued like miracle mushroom crunch and spruced up by scattered viola petals, it was a beautifully innovative bowl.
Next up was Octopus, Chorizo, Sweetcorn, Almond, Black Rice at £15. Arriving in a snowy heart-shaped stone plate, each assortment was intertwined creating colours of autumn. It was special.
Before moving onto our mains we asked for a respite as the dishes were surprisingly fulfilling. It gave us a little extra time to absorb the classy, opulent surroundings and savour our Spanish light bodied red wine Canditato Tempranillo which was excellent value at £21.95.
The main dishes available all sounded divine. Take your time but don’t try to piece together how your dish will taste or be designed. Just be prepared to be wowed. After some humming and hawing, I decided to go with Char Sui Iberico Pork, Cheek, Belly, Bao Scallop at £28. First and foremost, I’d like to state that I have never been so delighted at the elegance of a plate of food. My heart was pounding profusely. As I wrote my notes, it’s as if my words were beating across the page. For a moment, I was beginning to believe my wine had become a tad spirited. Smidgens of luminous green and golden yellow tints distributed in sync. The centred salty pork, cheek and the chunky cube of belly were sweetened by a Cantonese-style barbecue greeting of love from Asia. I mustn’t forget the buttery scallop that added an extra dimension to the already splendid dish.
Then there was Lamb, Artichoke, Tongue, Brown Shrimp, Purslane at £28. The word superlative comes to mind… It was food on another level, again aided by alluring and charming presentation. Even our side of Triple Cooked Chips sprinkled with truffle oil were immense. So much so you’ll be querying who gets the last one. Forget Rolos, Peace and Loaf’s next advertisement should use the question
‘Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Peace and Loaf truffle oiled chip?’
If you’re wondering, it wasn’t me that ate the last one.
Dessert wise, as I have coeliac disease, nothing was reaching out to me from the menu. Nevertheless, our waiter kindly informed us that the chefs could create a dessert for me off menu. Of course I agreed. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a surprise? More of the same magic please. So for my final instalment of wizardry, I was presented with a chocolate mousse-like slice sandwiched between a firmer, thickened chocolate layered crown and a moist sponge base. It was melt in your mouth smoothness. Accompanying it were three fruity, orange gels that were again deliciously inventive.
We also chose the Lemon, Basil, Olive, White Chocolate. White sponge layered with a sweet, flaxen ganache amazingly prepared with an almighty punch of basil and olive ice cream. The case was closed; food never tasted so fine, it was state-of-the-art dining of unusual combinations that just succeeded in every way.
Peace and Loaf introduced me to a dining experience that will last long in the memory and one I’ll treasure forever. Although we sat in candlelight that came from an enclosed silver birdcage ornament on our table, we left in the knowledge that the real radiance of Peace and Loaf came from the kitchen… Continue igniting the North East with your glow and I’m sure you’ll continue to grow.