19th April 2013
My new part-time job as restaurant critic(!) began recently, with a trip to award-winning Sunderland eatery ‘Liberty Brown Pizza House, Bar & Grill’ in the company of Mark Black, Sun FM’s ‘Man at Lunchtime’. As it happens, it really wasn’t a very long trip; Liberty Brown is a stone’s throw away from Sun FM’s studios on the Enterprise Park, in a nice spot just off Timber Beach Road near the banks of the River Wear. There’s also a large car park, so you certainly won’t struggle to find a place.
We were given a warm welcome by Helen, who swiftly whisked us through to a large circular table in a comfy booth next to the window. Helen would alternate with the equally friendly Jess, who both went out of their way to make sure we didn’t want for anything, even as the restaurant got steadily busier.
My starter was ‘Potato Skins with Garlic Mayonnaise and Sweet Chilli Dip’. I’ve always thought potato skins were a clever trick; more substantial than chips (although they’re in many ways the same thing), and so much naughtier! They were just the way I like them, deeply tasty, soft in the middle and crispy at the edges, complete with two of my favourite condiments. The garlic mayo in particular was a big win, thick and creamy and not too heavy on the garlic. They didn’t skimp on the portions either, so the potato skins might make for an ideal shared starter if you don’t want to risk filling up too early and spoiling the main event.
So, onward to the main course; thankfully I’d not eaten much, knowing I would be obliged to have three courses (what an awful task, eh?!), so there was still plenty of room. I always convince myself that any dish that doesn’t come with chips must be healthy, so I opted for something pasta-based, namely the ‘Slow Cooked Bolognese’, which is made with Toulouse sausage (French sausage made with pork, smoked bacon, wine and garlic) and penne pasta (I’m sure you know, but that’s the tube-shaped type!). The pasta was lovely and soft, and the meat component has to be among the tastiest I’ve ever had with any pasta dish, and I’ve had my share of those over the years (including during a few holidays to Italy!). As with the starter, there was a good amount, but not quite enough to prevent me from finding room for something sweet…obviously.
I’m afflicted with a not-so-rare condition that means any dessert I have has to include some sort of chocolate element, so I went for the ‘Chocolate Fudge Cake’. The generously-proportioned slice of cake was firm and moist, with an equally generous helping of delicious chocolate sauce and just the right amount of ice cream (I’d always choose that over whipped cream to complement chocolate fudge cake).
I may have failed in my attempt at being a restaurant critic by not sampling any of the drinks on the menu, but I had a raging thirst and the only thing that can slake a raging thirst for me is tap water with lots of ice. However, I can report the tap water was of an excellent vintage, the ice was just the right temperature and the slice of lemon was a world beater. I’m trying too hard now aren’t I?!
Posted by Mike at 4:12pm