Newcastle Quayside’s newest restaurant is aimed at the more discerning diner – on par with the likes of 21, Peace & Loaf and even House of Tides.
Dobson & Parnell is the brainchild of restauranteur Andy Hook (owner of the popular and long-established Blackfriars in Newcastle and the newer but equally favoured Hinnies in Whitley Bay) and head chef Troy Terrington.
The pair have chosen to name the restaurant after two highly celebrated architects of the past: John Dobson who designed Newcastle’s Central Station, the Grainger Market and much of the city’s iconic Grey Street, and William Parnell who designed Newcastle’s Grade I listed Tyne Theatre and the Victorian Grade II listed building on Queen Street where Dobson & Parnell is now located.
Celebrating two men who have had such an important impact on Newcastle city centre, I was eager to see if Dobson & Parnell would have what it takes to secure a special place in the hearts of residents and visitors.
Inside, the restaurant offers a sophisticated and elegant interior that makes the most of the original Victorian features, combining them with elegant fixtures and furnishings.
Diners have a choice of the a la carte menu, which regularly changes depending on available ingredients, or the daily set menu (echoing some of the options of the a la carte) priced at £17 for two courses or £21 for three courses at lunchtime or £21/£25 in the early evening.
There is also a £30 lunchtime option where your three courses will be accompanied by a glass of house wine, sparkling water and coffee – although £9 extra didn’t strike me as representing exceptional value.
Both the a la carte and the daily set menu – devised by Troy – celebrate the very best local and in-season produce and demonstrate a considerable amount of culinary skill.
On the lunch time my colleagues and I visited Dobson & Parnell, I opted to start with the goats cheese mousse with North Country beetroot, pine oil and spiced granola, which was presented like a work of art on the plate and provided bold yet balanced favours.
It was my fellow diner who proved the most adventurous among us by opting for the line-caught mackerel tartare with its good amount of delicate fish cubes.
For our mains, my pan-fried black cod was well-cooked and there were no complaints about the earthy roasted corn-fed chicken with heritage carrots, kale and pancetta.
Perhaps unexpectedly, it was the butternut squash risotto with hard cheese, smoked almonds and pickled squash that was the undisputed champion of the mains. The vibrantly coloured dish looked like a Mark Rothko painting and its depth of flavour was immense.
Desserts were just as stunningly presented and well executed, and we chose to follow these with a coffee.
My conclusion is that Dobson & Parnell will definitely be able to hold its own as part of the high-end dining scene of Newcastle. Smartly, it has rejected the latest restaurant trends in food and decor and instead builds on the rich heritage of the building, the city and local produce. The result is that Andy and Troy have built themselves a restaurant that feels far, far more established than the few weeks it has been open.
Goats cheese mousse, North Country beetroot, pine oil and spiced granola
North Shields crab, mariner’s relish, fermented turnip and fennel shoots
Line-caught mackerel tartare, watercress, lemon, sourdough and allium oil
Butternut squash risotto, hard cheese, smoked almonds and pickled squash
Roasted corn-fed chicken, heritage carrots, curly kale and pancetta
Pan-fried black cod, mussel frumenty, pickled lemon and wakame seaweed
Valrhona Manjari chocolate, cinder toffee and salted caramel
Yorkshire rhubarb, vanilla and white chocolate
Selection of English and French cheeses, wheat biscuit and pickles