What we thought of the Star Wars-themed Ernest cafe/bar in Newcastle
There’s plenty of choice for bars and cafes in the burgeoning Ouseburn district of Newcastle – but the force is particularly strong at Ernest.
Individuality is the ethos at this once-industrial area, which is now home to a thriving arts scene. Star Wars is a theme that flows throughout Ernest, from a huge Darth Vader mural on the outside wall to collectable figurines in cases inside, signs on the toilet doors of figures holding lightsabers and even Star Wars-themed cocktails. It’s not a cheesy homage to the franchise though, it’s artfully done.
It’s what you would expect from a cafe, bar and events space that’s been set up by artists and designers who’ve given it a hipster vibe: think exposed brickwork, disco balls and reclaimed furniture, without making it pretentious. It’s all very laid back with a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.
We visited on a Saturday – you can get a couple of hours free parking on the street, unlike the neighbouring city centre – and although we hadn’t booked, we managed to get a table between the birthday parties and large groups. It does get busy though, so it’s best booking ahead to guarantee a seat.
The menu’s in keeping with the name and offers good, honest grub inspired from dishes around world, ranging from brunch in the morning to bar snacks to fuel you for dancing in the evening. I chose from the brunch menu, served from 10am to 3pm, which offers a comprehensive choice including eggs your way, granola, hash bowls, French toast, veggie and vegan breakfasts.
I chose Eggs Ernesto – toasted muffin, pesto, rocket, spinach, poached eggs and hollandaise, which is on the pricey side at £8.50, but includes a choice of pancetta, halloumi and salmon which some other places charge extra for.
My friend chose from the sandwich selection, which is better than your average choices, and went with the lime crab mayo smørrebrød with grapefruit, pickled asparagus, pea shoot and northern rye sourdough (£7.50).
Our mains would have been enough, but the sides sounded so good we also ordered halloumi bites with spicy mayo (£5.50) and a beetroot borani dip with feta, dill and walnuts (£4.50).
Service was friendly, but slow and we had to try and catch the eye of our waiter to place our order before I gave up and ordered at the bar. It took around 20 minutes for our dishes to arrive, but this isn’t really a place for a quick bite, more a spot to while away the hours on a weekend.
We couldn’t fault the food, it was hearty and well executed with a bit of flair. My eggs were perfectly poached and better than other dishes of this ilk I’ve had from neighbouring cafes.
The Scandi-inspired sandwich was also well done, with plenty of topping and a great contrast of flavours and texture. Portions were of a good size, but we still managed to shoe-horn in the chunky halloumi fries and mopped up the Iranian-inspired yoghurt dip which was just too good to leave.