MON – SAT 9.30AM – 3.30PM OR BY APPOINTMENT | OUSE STREET, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, NE1 2PF | GRAZER HQ
First of all – it’s BYOB! Secondly, it’s unbelievably tasty (and good-value), real home-made food in the cutest setting which is so unexpected and original that first off it feels like you’ve stumbled across a mood board on Pinterest or some Secret Eats Instagram account. Except those are the type of things I hate, and I love Cook House because it’s totally genuine and not just a trendy gimmick.
Cook House belongs to Anna Hedworth, who’s most famous for her food blog The Grazer. On an uneventful road in Newcastle’s artsy-trendy Ouseburn area, it’s charmingly stashed inside two old shipping containers. The insides have been turned into the restaurant and an open kitchen, and there’s a vegetable patch out the back where Anna grows some of her ingredients. Eating at Cook House feels like walking into Anna’s kitchen and sitting down at her own table – her workspace is not just ‘open’ but an essential presence in the place as she checks the food bubbling on the hob just behind your table. Pots hang over the stainless-steel kitchen units, and fresh flowers decorate a wooden island in the centre where Anna keeps all the crockery, alongside her collection of cookery books. It’s an absolute gem.
I found the place completely by chance when walking from the Ouseburn down to the quayside. Sadly, it was shut at the time, but we were so taken with its look that we came back a few days later, and it lived up to all we’d been hoping for. Hungover and wanting to be loved by food, we opened the heavy metal doors into the light-flooded space that’s kept toasty by a large cast-iron wood fire. We plonked ourselves down at one of the little blue-wooden tables. Alas, this was the point at which we discovered it was BYOB and had brought nothing with us for the hair of the dog, but a tasty home-made ginger lemonade did great as a substitute. (Little disclaimer here, I didn’t actually have this, because ginger drinks give me the funk, but Jade and Grace said it was delicious and better at hangover-thirst-quenching than any fizzy pop.)
We choose three mains and shared them all. First; a slow-cooked, pearl barley and lamb ragout, that was a warm, creamy melt-in-the-mouth embrace and came with gorgeously buttered slices of toasted sourdough. Then a pheasant terrine, more toast and a side-salad with pickled carrots (another 10/10 — rich gamey flavours freshened up by the tangy carrots). And lastly, a curried cauliflower soup (and even more toast) that was just as delicious as the previous two dishes— cosy with a bit of a kick. The only criticism I could rack my brains for would be that the soup could have been a little hotter. It’s pretty impossible to find anything else – the food is all served beautifully and generously, and tastes as good as it looks. It’s interesting and flavourful, and all sourced locally and sustainably. It’s also really good value – we had three mains and shared a pud, plus drinks, and it was about £8 each. Pud was an almond and chocolate tart with a blob of crème fraîche on the side – scrummy.
I’ve been back a few times since, and had equally delicious meals: salads, soups, melty meats – it’s all been top-notch. Only open till 3:30pm, Anna’s main focus is breakfast and lunch, although she does offer catering for dinners. It’s also a lovely place to tap away at some work during the day. It turns out I’m not the only person who thinks so too – The Times called it ‘One of the 25 coolest restaurants in Britain’ and The Guardian said ‘It’s as glorious a local gem as you’ll find in the UK, let alone the north-east’. The restaurant has also been recently listed in the Good Food Guide 2017 – Best 25 New Entries. It’s received a heap of fantastic reviews, but has remained the feeling that when you find it, you’ve stumbled on your own personal little treasure.
Cook House also serves as a function space for Anna, who regularly teams up with associations like the National Trust to do foodie events. She also runs her own supperclubs, cookery evening events, and local food markets in Jesmond and the Ouseburn. Check out the website at the bottom of the page for more info.
The last time I went, I asked Anna if I could interview her to get Cook House’s story, her views on Newcastle, and other things. We had a lovely chat for 45 mins, in between a couple of customers popping in for takeaway lunch and a delivery of fresh ingredients from a local grocer. I’ve written down our chat here. Read it, and then go and eat at Cook House.