I think a lot of us Newcastle foodies will all agree, NE1 restaurant Week is without a doubt one of our favourite weeks of the year. It comes around twice, occurring in winter and summer with the latter falling on the week August 5th till 11th and I had to get involved.
With offers typically 2 courses for £10 and 3 courses for £15, you can imagine dining reservations get snapped up very quickly, so I had a good look at all the restaurants on offer and thought I would try out somewhere I hadn’t been before. With over 100 Newcastle food and drink venues involved this was an extremely difficult decision to make. But, I had my eyes on The Muddler, a pan-Asian restaurant on Grey Street just down from the Theatre Royal, which opened only in December last year.
The Great Gatsby styled venue with stunning black interior with gold edging really sets the stylish and sophisticated theme. The floral outline of the restaurant sets the dining and cocktail area apart from the other locations on Grey Street with some outdoor seating for when there is lovely sunny weather. I was surprised upon arrival at how small the restaurant was but also loved how intimate it was and could imagine The Muddler would be a great location for a second date or similar vibes.
It was absolutely packed on the day we went and we were even there at a really early time for dinner at 5.30. The deal for restaurant week here was a choice of any three dishes from their large menu for £15. This included a range from dimsum, tempura, chargrilled robata or classic options such as spring rolls.
My brother and I are big fans of Japanese style food and already had an idea of the kinds of food we were after but the menu was really extensive, especially for restaurant week which normally restricts dinner to a few options. We decided just to share the six dishes so chose things we both knew we would love. This included, a pork belly bao bun which came with pickled daikon and sesame served in the classic steamed bun. I was apprehensive to see if I would like this one but it was delicious, really juicy flavours and really big if you weren’t sharing that one between two people. It was my brothers favourite dish of the evening as well which was a great indication of how good this was.
We also went for the classic chicken katsu which was so good. The chicken was really tender with big crispy bits too. The chicken in the panko alongside the sweet soy and spicy mayo worked really well. We also chose another dish off the classics section of the menu which was one of my favourites of the evening. This was the spicy peppered squid. I love squid so was looking forward to this and The Muddler did not disappoint. Spicy marinated squid was crispy and accompanied by a red chilli and spring onion garnish.
From the Tempura options we chose the classic prawn tempura dish. Really good again and a good sized portion I think. The prawns were served with a wasabi mayonnaise but I thought it was just soy sauce if I’m honest. The final two dishes we tried out came from the chargrilled robata menu. Teriyaki chicken was the first where chicken was marinated in garlic, ginger, sake, mirin and coriander which gave a lovely seasoning not spicy at all but complemented the other dishes we had chosen which were. This dish came with a teriyaki sauce.
Finally I had heard that the salmon was super good from recommendations so of course had to try it out. again accompanied by teriyaki sauce, the salmon was marinated in the exact same sauce as the chicken but tasted so different- in a good way. It was unreal! Don’t get me wrong the chicken was so nice but the salmon topped it. Weird how despite the ingredients can be exactly the same but the meat is different and the flavour changes. I would really recommend the salmon one if you are heading to the Muddler this week.
Over all, the food was super good. We had a really good time and the service matched the food. We weren’t waiting long for our dishes to come out either which was amazing especially because the restaurant was full. I loved the dishes and flavours, the portion sizes were great for me and the total bill came to £35 including two drinks of lemonade. My brother said he would have wanted bigger portion sizes but he’s a boy and always eats a lot.
So, I think it depends on how much you eat. If you’re like him and like a lot of food, then I would recommend lunch time, but if you don’t eat that much and prefer a smaller portion and a few different dishes, then get yourself down on an evening- even better, try to get booked in this week for the deal of £15 for three dishes and see what all the fuss is about for yourselves!