A weekend of 30th birthday celebrations for Mr M led us to one of Newcastle’s most popular bars.
Pleased to Meet You, on High Bridge, is just around the corner from the Theatre Royal, and even at 6pm it was heaving.
With my husband being a brewer and a lover of good beer from around the world, and me being a bit of a gin fan, it was a perfect place for a child-free early dinner with a few drinks.
And while it is in the centre of Newcastle, it is supplied by the Amble Butcher, with an emphasis on local produce in its menu.
Pleased to Meet You isn’t the place to go if you want a quiet, intimate meal – far from it in fact.
We arrived just before our 6pm booking and had to battle through crowds at the bar to get a drink and let them know we had arrived.
Our table was right in the middle of the bar It was the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle Racecourse the same day and it seemed like everyone had descended following the races.
We decided to have a bowl of olives while looking at the extensive menu, which covers everything from salads, pasta, risotto, grills and burgers to sandwiches and platters.
The appetiser arrived quickly, in a nice little jar, with little sticks with which to spear them.
I chose the mushroom and oak-smoked Northumberland cheese arancini (£4.75) while the birthday boy opted for the mussels with a smoked pancetta and cabbage sauce (£7.95).
Other options included breadcrumbed oysters with tartare sauce (£5.50) and hogshead croquettes with bitter apple puree (£4.75).
The beauty of booking a table meant we were also able to order drinks from the waiters and waitresses, which was handy as the queue at the bar was getting bigger and bigger as the evening went on.
No sooner had our drinks arrived than the starters were put in front of us.
My arancini balls were delicious.
Filled with a mushroom risotto and gooey cheese, they were delicately flavoured and lovely and crispy on the outside.
They were served with a small salad garnish and a red pepper sauce which matched perfectly.
But the mussels were the winner in the best starter competition.
Clearly fresh, the shellfish tasted delicious, soft and flavoursome, while the sauce, which was recommended by the waitress, was a perfect match and again not overpowering.
The mussels were served with two slices of freshly baked bread which were perfect for soaking up the sauce.
Starters over, we ordered another round of drinks before the mains arrived.
For mine I chose the pork t-bone with chips and salad (£17), but I could have had mash or vegetables as well.
I also chose a blue cheese sauce for it, while peppercorn was also on offer.
Mr M went for the curried monkfish (£15.95). Other options included a selection of different burgers priced between £8.50 and £14, salads such as the confit of duck at £14.95 and main-course-size portions of the mussels, also at £14.95.
Again, both dishes were delicious.
My pork was cooked to perfection, not overdone and chewy but nice and soft in the middle – and it was huge.
The chips were also lovely and the blue cheese sauce was a great match for the meal.
The monkfish was served on a bed of soft noodles and Asian spring vegetables.
The fish was lovely and meaty but quite spicy although the flavours worked well together and the delicate fish held its own against the spices.
Not normally ones to shy away from a pudding, this time we were defeated.
The small selection, which included sticky toffee pudding, blondie vs brownie with hazelnut ice cream and fruit fool of the day, looked very tempting, but there was no way we could make space for anything more.
While the food at Pleased to Meet You is great, the drinks are also a big feature.
With a huge selection of gins, and matching tonics, cocktails, bottled craft beers, as well as numerous cask and keg beers on tap, it appeals to drinkers of all kinds.
It’s a great venue for a meal and drinks, but be warned that it gets very busy in the evenings, especially at weekends, and you need to book.
GOOD FOOD BUT CATERS FOR THE EVENING CROWD
Pleased to Meet You caters for the drinking crowd in an evening and therefore food is only served until 7pm as the bar gets so busy.
But it is open from 11am, serving lunches during the week and on Saturday with a delectable looking Sunday lunch menu.
It is advisable to book a table if you want to eat early evening as otherwise you might not get to sit down!
There are also a couple of sections of the bar which can be cordoned off if you want a small private booking.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Soup of the day......£4.75
Scotch egg or Welsh egg with mustard......£4.75
Pulled pork bun......£9.00
PTMY cheese and bacon burger......£11
Fish and chips......£12
Pan roast poussin......£14.95
Pork three ways......£15.95
PASTA AND RISOTTO
Ox cheek and pearl barley risotto......£11
Gin jelly w/tonic sorbet......£5
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Quality of food......8.5
Value for money......8
Use of local food......8
Access for disabled......a couple of steps at the entrance
Toilet for disabled......yes
Verdict: A great bar with good food and great drinks to match.