MEAL REVIEW: You Only Live Once, or YOLO, Bell Villas, Ponteland

Chicken and steak platter for two.
Chicken and steak platter for two.

Given we’re now in June – although some of the weather recently wouldn’t support this theory – many people will be thinking about their summer holidays.

I’m a big fan of Newcastle Airport as it’s conveniently located for most of us in the North East and it’s usually a pleasant experience flying from there.

Salt and pepper calamari.

Salt and pepper calamari.

One thing I don’t like – and this is true of all airports – is the mark-ups on food and drinks that they use to exploit a captive market.

So if you’re heading down to the airport and fancy something to eat or drink before getting into the nitty-gritty of checking in and going through security, you could do much worse than trying YOLO in Ponteland.

YOLO – an acronym for You Only Live Once – takes its name from the internet meme in youth culture made popular this decade through the likes of Twitter and by musicians like Drake.

Given the provenance of its name, you may well be able to guess what it looks like inside.

Chicken liver pate.

Chicken liver pate.

And you’d be right; the look and décor is very ‘now’, with exposed brickwork, wooden beams and a colour scheme of pastels and greys – the so-called ‘shabby chic’ vibe crossed with a more upmarket, city-bar feel via the chandeliers and the Chesterfield-type banquette seating.

Its appearance – and the menu too in many ways – is clearly influenced or inspired by chains like The Botanist, whose venue in Newcastle has proved extremely popular since it opened in late 2014.

And in the same way as The Botanist describes itself online as ‘a concept like no other’, so YOLO is ‘a brand new social experience for Ponteland’.

But don’t let any of this put you off, as when we dropped in early on a weekday evening, there were quite a few people of all different ages enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.

The outdoor terrace at Yolo in Ponteland.

The outdoor terrace at Yolo in Ponteland.

YOLO admits that it is a bar first and an eatery second with the former being its ‘bread and butter’.

This means ordering at the bar and paying in advance for food and drinks.

It also means that they only serve food until 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 7pm on Sundays, although on weeknights, it’s until 9pm.

YOLO offers a ‘casual dining experience’ so there’s no booking for smaller groups, however, groups of six or more can book a booth and groups of 14 or more can book the mezzanine area.

The mezzanine area which can be booked at Yolo in Ponteland.

The mezzanine area which can be booked at Yolo in Ponteland.

Having said that, there was certainly no issue in getting a table immediately on a Tuesday night.

The menu is extensive, featuring everything from burgers and sandwiches to salads and sharing platters.

There are no indications on the menu, but according to the website, they source all of their ingredients locally wherever possible.

Feeling peckish, we decided to have starters as well as a main and I opted for the chicken liver pâté (£5.99).

Served on a board, as all our dishes were, there were two generous slices of the pâté, which was fairly standard but tasty, several slices of ciabatta and onion relish.

Across the table was a generous bucket of salt and pepper calamari (£6.99) served with garlic aioli.

The interior of Yolo in Ponteland.

The interior of Yolo in Ponteland.

It was very good, featuring a crispy, salty, peppery batter while the squid flesh avoided being rubbery.

We followed this with the steak and chicken platter for two (£19.99), which you can also have for one (£11.99). It featured rump steak, chicken breast, Lebanese flatbread, triple-cooked chips, salad and a selection of dips.

I don’t know the exact constituents of the two dips, but one was heavy with garlic and the other had a hefty bit of heat from paprika.

Neither was too overpowering, but added a nice kick to the dish.

The triple-cooked chips – another thing that seems to be à la mode at the moment – were excellent, while the flatbread meant that you could make ‘sandwiches’ with different combinations of meat and dip.

My only complaint was that the main course came out as soon as our starters were cleared and the rump steak, while nicely rare, was a little cold, suggesting that it had all been cooked when we ordered rather than waiting to see how long we were with our starters.

BREAKFAST AND ROASTS ON OFFER

Food is served from 10am with the breakfast offering ranging from porridge (£3.50) to eggs benedict (£6.50) to cooked breakfast (£7.95) alongside a range of drinks.

Coffees are two for one between 10am and noon.

On Sundays, food is served from noon until 7pm with chicken supreme (£9.95), loin of pork (£9.95), strip loin beef (£11.95) or a trio (£13.95) on offer.

SELECTION FROM THE MENU

Nibbles And Starters

Homemade soup of the day......£4.99

Bruschetta......£4.99

with cheese......£5.99

Tempura prawns......£8.99

Salads

Rare beef salad......£9.99

Open Greek pitta salad......£8.99

Platters And Boards

Seafood platter......£11.99/£19.99

Ploughman’s platter......£12.99

Mains

Drizzling Kebab Hanging Skewers – chicken......£10.99

– halloumi......£10.59

Fish and chips......£10.99

Pie of the week......£10.99

Vegetable and feta crumble pie......£10.99

Burgers (£9.99 to £11.99)

Sandwiches (£4.49 to £5.99)

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Quality of food......8

Presentation......7

Choice......9

Vegetarian choice......5

Atmosphere......9

Use of local food......not on menu

Service......8

Value for money......7

Access for the disabled......6

Toilet for the disabled......Yes

Overall rating......8

Verdict: Despite being a bar that serves food rather than a restaurant, there’s a good choice of tasty dishes in a modern, relaxed environment.

Contact: 01661 824 146 or http://www.yolo.uk.com/

The previous Northumberland Gazette Eating Out column reviewed St Aidan Hotel, Seahouses. And if you missed it, here is a link to the Gazette’s top tips of 2014.

The decking and patio area at the front of You Only Live Once in Bell Villas, Ponteland.

The decking and patio area at the front of You Only Live Once in Bell Villas, Ponteland.