Steak at the seaside

As mentioned before, Newcastle has plenty of places to eat. Unfortunately we didn't get to try them all - but we had a good stab at it anyway!

One evening, we made our way down the road from the hotel and popped into Vanilla. It sounds like it should be a bakery; but it's not.

Behind the chic black and white exterior is a little restaurant that, although small, has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We were lucky to get a table - it was very busy, even on a Monday night!

We went for the Early Bird Menu, each picking two dishes. I had my eye on the roasted wood pigeon but unfortunately it was off the menu - quel horreur!

Two of my family picked a starter: satay chicken and noodle spring rolls with Asian slaw. It was spicy, fresh and not too heavy.

I had originally intended on ordering a starter and a main; but my sweet tooth took over and I stuck with the usual main and dessert.

Flat-iron steak (served pink) with potato croquettes, fried onions and roasted carrots. I hadn't eaten rare beef before - only trying a little of my sister's in La Rochelle - and so I was a bit apprehensive as to whether I would like it or not. Still, I think that it's always good to experiment in restaurants and the mixture of sweet carrots, a rich gravy and a sprinkling of mushrooms sounded too good to miss! Thankfully I did enjoy the beef - it wasn't too bloody - and whilst I felt a bit like a Neanderthal with my huge steak knife, I'm glad that I chose it.

Dad picked the catch of the day: fresh cod served with creamy leeks, peas and mashed potato. Tender and light, it sounded delicious.

Onto dessert!

Passionfruit crème brûlée for both Mum and Dad, served with a little biscuit.

I picked a mango panacotta with a balsamic and raspberry sorbet and some sort of white chocolate thing. The panacotta was creamy and fruity and the sorbet added a little bit of tanginess. I'll definitely be exploring other types of flavoured vinegar! As for the white chocolate... well, it tasted nice!

And, ever the chocoholic, my sister went for a blood orange and chocolate tart with ice-cream. This was rich and deeply flavoured. I don't think I'd have managed a full slice, though!

We finished off the meal with an espresso coffee and a mint, then meandered outside and walked back to the hotel, via the seashore.