LOW Fell, sometimes, rather comically, referred as the Gosforth of Gateshead, for its assumed ‘poshness’, is a known as ‘a good night out’ and, as a native, I am always keen to find new restaurants to try.
It must be said, however, while there are some very swanky seven figure houses on the market, most of the residents, like my family, dwell in modest surroundings and have no airs and graces, or delusions of grandeur.
I do like me bait though, so when a call about 1964 came into the office offering ‘fine dining’ on what us locals refer to as The Fell, I must admit I was intrigued.
‘Bit like House of Tides, but not as expensive,’ is how it was described, referencing Newcastle’s Michelin-starred, reputedly impressive, but prohibitively priced eatery.
Food fans of Low Fell are not short of options when it comes to eating out with very good Indian, Chinese, Italian and modern European restaurants, as well as quality gastro pubs, well-established.
There are also a wide range of takeaways to cater for what estate agents might describe as a ‘lively night time economy’, but 1964 seems to be aiming for the higher end of the market.
It is a bold venture by husband and wife team, Kyle and Raluca Bowman, who have named their restaurant after the year Mr Bowman’s parents, Tom and Deborah, were born.
Mr Bowman, 28, from North Shields, is the head chef, was previously in charge at the Inn on the Square in Keswick, and earned his spurs at several award-winning restaurants in Cumbria.
His 29-year-old wife, who is originally from Romania, works front of house.
From outside it may not be what you expected from a restaurant offering fine dining, but have faith.
It is near The Gateshead Arms as you head along the main ‘strip’ towards Newcastle, with the entrance sandwiched between an Indian and a Chinese takeaway, the latter, temptingly titled Ming Kitchen.
Inside, however, soft colours and warm lighting, create a lovely welcoming ambience and one wall is dedicated to old photographs of Low Fell and fascinating trivia.
Did you know Underhill on Kell’s Lane, home of lightbulb pioneer Joseph Swan, was first house in the world to be wired for domestic electric lighting?
It was a quiet, chilly Wednesday evening in February when I took my Mam, sorry Mater, for a meal.
To start, I went for the twice-baked goat’s cheese and chive soufflé (£6.50) which came served with pickled walnuts, pear and rocket.
It was as light as a feather, not in the slightest bit stodgy, presented beautifully, the array of flavours all complementing each other.
Mater’s pan fried scallops (£9.95) came with Jerusalem artichoke, ham, apple, hazlenuts and shallot dressing.
Afterwards, visibly impressed, she declared it was possibly the best starter she had ever had, perfect in every way.
I stuck to familiar territory for the main, opting for ribeye steak (£19.95) which came with beef dripping chips, tomato, mushrooms, rocket and parmesan salad.
The steak was a decent slab of meat, cooked perfectly with the most amazing chunky chips, and incredible tasting salad alongside.
Mater also made light work of her oven roasted hake (£15.25), which was served with risotto, chorizo, tomato, spinach and parmesan.
Once again, there were no complaints here, with everything cooked exactly as it should be, presented in a way that made you feel like a vandal for digging in.
For dessert, I ordered vanilla panna cotta (£6.25) which came in what appeared to be a pasta storage jar, served with raspberries, candied pistachio, and thyme shortbread.
Attractive and delicious as it was, it was impossible to tell if it could have stood up on its own, as a good panna cotta should, and for my liking it had a texture more like cream and like jelly. Not that it was not utterly gorgeous.
Mater’s sticky stout pudding (£5.50) came with butter scotch sauce with salted caramel ice cream and was every bit as delicious as it sounds.
Service was a little slow to start off with, especially as there was only one of other couple in when we visited, but it was well worth the wait, and picked up during the course of the meal.
I’d say 1964 is quite a find, so if one finds one’s self in polite conversation with the gentle folk of Gateshead, and talk turns to fine dining, one knows what to say. Doesn’t one? What, what.
1964, 565a Durham Road, Low Fell, Gateshead, NE9 5EY
Opening times: Monday closed, Tuesday 6pm-9.30pm, Wednesday-Saturday 12pm-3pm and 6pm-9.30pm, Sunday 12pm-4 pm
Ratings (out of ten): Food 9, Value 8, Service 9, Surroundings 8