Ophelia restaurant in Newcastle’s South Gosforth area has already made it into the Michelin Guide, despite being open less than a year! Luxe Bible were keen to sample the delights of this fine dining neighbourhood brasserie from the founder of The Patricia. Together with tech investor Dan Smyth, chef and restaurateur Nick Grieves has created something quite charming – a sleek, stylish restaurant, with a menu which oozes with simplicity and elegance.
Upon entering Ophelia, you’ll notice its spacious and welcoming bar area. With industrial tones and angles and a lavish drinks display, guests can indulge in an array of innovative cocktails or enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif in an inviting and relaxed surrounding on high bar stools and comfy chairs in the window. The cocktail menu at Ophelia showcases an artful blend of classic and innovative and we went straight for the hard stuff and ordered the Old Fashioned, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon and white miso – an intriguing twist we’ve never tasted before, with notes of popcorn and orange and mandarin bitters.
Another Ophelia delight was the Spicy Margarita, which packed a punch with its vibrant blend of flavours and just the right amount of heat – we’ll be trying to re-create this one at home! Drinks consultant Angus was engaging and friendly and clearly knew his onions. I’d say Angus and the Ophelia Bar are worth a visit on their own, even if you’re not out for dinner.
The restaurant itself is thoughtfully designed, with a segregated dining area and open kitchen pass that throws out wave upon wave of mouth-watering aromas. The tables are just the right distance apart, close enough to give that warm and cosy feel you expect in a Parisian brasserie, but far enough apart that you can’t hear the romantic jibber jabber from the adjacent tables.
Now for the food, Heading up the kitchen at Ophelia is the talented Head Chef Nick Peskin (who also worked with Grieves at The Patricia). The menu, while compact, changes regularly, ensuring every visit to Ophelia is unique and exciting, and his commitment to using the finest seasonal ingredients is evident in every dish. As we ventured into the culinary offerings, Ophelia continued to impress with a menu that is comforting and refined.
To start, we ordered the oeuf à la anchois from the snacks menu – a perfectly boiled egg with orange buttery york and salty anchovy goodness. From the starters menu, the rich velvety chicken liver parfait was slathered on warm crusty bread and topped with a sweet fruity chutney. Palourde clams with girolle mushrooms (which are both quite similar in texture) worked in harmony, while the herbal notes of the pastis were a good contrast to the earthy sweeter notes of the seafood. A hard act to follow but done with aplomb, for mains, we decided on the roasted muscade pumpkin with shallots and blue cheese on a crispy base – I loved the contrast of textures, while the overpowering flavour of the cheese balanced with the sweetness of the pumpkin made this an interesting and tasty combo of flavours.
Truffle pomme puree was rich and silky smooth, providing the perfect side. We also went for a simple fish dish – the North Sea halibut served with potato, leek and a classic beurre blanc sauce. Nothing too fancy, the fish was fresh and cooked beautifully – a perfect example of French cooking at its best. To complement our meal, we savoured every sip of our bottle of red – the Moulin de Gassac which paired beautifully with the French-inspired dishes and is excellent value as a house offering. The selection of wines at Ophelia is well-curated (with many low intervention,) giving excellent variety to suit every palate.
There’s only one way to finish dinner and that’s with a decent cheese. Ophelia’s selection is a good one, offering variation ranging from the light and airy Delice de Bourgogne to the subtle tasting but tangy Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese and the creamy nutty and crystalline Comté. There’s also a selection of dessert wines and we loved the sweetness, juiciness and fresh red fruits of the Mas Amiel Maury Vintage Rouge.
It’s nice to see that a ‘neighbourhood restaurant’ outside the centre of Newcastle is making such an impression – so much so that the team have now opened Cafeteria Gosforth next door. Dubbed a ‘greasy spoon’, but definitely with a more refined feel to the food, the menu offers up the likes of baked beans on toast with Red Leicester, chicken parm sandwiches and spicy vodka rigatoni.