First impressions are good at this hybrid restaurant, cafe, bar, dance spot. It’s housed in the former Paradiso in Market Lane which, over the decades, had become somewhat of an institution in Newcastle but it hadn’t impressed me on my last visit at Christmas with its tired interiors and lacklustre Italian food.
Newcomer Horticulture has made the most of the higgledy-piggledy features of this industrial building which spans three floors accessed via a metal staircase. The bare brick walls are now festooned with fairy lights and neon signs that are begging to be committed to Instagram, while 70’s-style swinging wicker chairs echo the laid back lounging vibes at this multi-purpose site. There’s an outdoors / indoors mash up theme going on, which flows through to the outside terrace with its disco balls and DJ booth.
Music seems to be as important as the food here and we visited on Sunday where they run a Sunday Disco brunch from 10am to 5pm, which offers breakfast and brunch to the tune of soul, disco and house music.
We had two kids in tow, but were seated in the upstairs restaurant which is less bar-like than the lower floors so more suited for family dining. In keeping with the green theme, there’s foliage aplenty from hanging planters to industrial style shelving that’s choc-a-bloc with plants. If they’re all real, they’re going to need someone whose sole job is to water the plants.
Instagrammable interiors are ten a penny in Newcastle these days, but Horticulture seems to have substance, as well as style. The brunch menu was better than your average with choices (many of which are vegan and vegetarian), such as slow cooked eggs and broccoli, hash and fried hen egg and Eggs Benedict done in mutiple ways. There isn’t a kids’ menu, but there’s dishes on there which work for them such as bacon sandwiches and beans on toast.I ordered the Shloumi, a belly-buster of a brunch which comes with halloumi, smashed avocado, poached eggs, sourdough toast, spiced tomato sauce and mushrooms for £9. For an extra £2 you can add chorizo, but it was no problem when I asked to substitute the sausage for smoked salmon.
It was a hearty portion, served on chunky trendy pottery plates that you get at the likes of Kiln and Cookhouse in Ouseburn. There was just enough of each ingredient which I soon doused in the perfectly runny egg. Meanwhile, the spiced tomato added a bit of kick. If you fancy turning up the volume, the evening small plates menu looked worth a return trip.
Our only quibble was the slowness of the drinks. We’d ordered Bloody Marys (which aren’t badly priced at £7 each) from the lengthy drinks list, which includes no less than 40 Espresso Martinis. It tasted refreshingly zingy and punchy with just the right amount of spice, but took ages to arrive. Maybe it’s because all the stairs the staff have to navigate. Despite the slowness of our drinks, however, I’m sure this new addition has enough about it to cultivate a firm following.