The Herb Garden (restaurant review)

I have a new favourite place to eat- and it involves pizza. The Herb Garden is a place I have been meaning to try for close to a year now, and on my twentieth birthday I finally did. Because when your family offer to take you out for a meal, as a perpetually cash strapped student, you don’t say no.
Located near Newcastle Central Station, opposite Newcastle Castle, The Herb Garden defines itself as a ‘Pizza Kitchen’- which is fairly obvious from the minute you walk in. To the right is a pizza making station with two stone oven for creating that perfect crispy base. The menu comprises some thirteen different pizzas, and two different calzones- and they also cater to vegans, which is fairly unusual, and refreshing change, as even though veganism is on the rise, it still hasn’t quite taken off north of the capital. To my mind, the word “pizza” is synonymous with loads of gooey cheese. And though the pizza my dad ordered (the ‘Happy Ham’ pizza) did come with mozzarella and a creamy ricotta, and did live up to the gooey, cheesy dreams you may have surrounding pizza- I saw the vegan ones comes out of the kitchen and they looked amazing. Colourful, and packed with vegetables. As I’m not a big fan of lashings of cheese, I will possibly end up ordering one of these  the next time I visit.
Whilst we’re on the topic of pizza, The Herb Garden do brunch. Pizza-themed Sunday brunch. If you head on over to their website (I’ll leave a link at the bottom), then you’ll see that there are four pizzas on offer. From chocolate, hazelnut, banana, honey, and vanilla ice-cream- to sausage, parsley, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, ricotta, egg and rocket. The other two on available are a salted-caramel-come-pecan-pie, and one topped with spicy tomato, egg, and hummus. As my flatmate has just finished exams, and is planning on partying whilst I finish mine, I may take her here to soothe her hangover- although she possibly wont make it there in time for brunch.
But moving on from pizza, The Herb Garden also do equally good wraps, salads, and a range of non-pizza specials (as well as a special pizza). My brother opted for the fillet steak wrap, and my mum went for a chicken and homemade pesto wrap. If you’re expecting small portions here: don’t. The wraps were great value for money, but also didn’t end up lacking in quality in order to achieve this. The Herb Garden balance quality and quantity perfectly.

My family and I really covered all of the bases at this meal, because I chose the Swanky Salmon & Kinky Quinoa Salad (you’ll notice the love of fun names here when you look at the menu). Usually, when I order salad I end up finishing before everyone else, and wishing that there had been a little more on my plate. Unfortunately, most places assume that when a girl orders a salad, she’s on a diet. The Herb Garden do not. Again, perfect portion sizes, perfectly cooked salmon, and perfect combination of flavours in there. As we left I saw the Super-food Salad going out though, complete with edible flowers, and I have to admit- I nearly wished that I’d ordered that. Although, to be fair, I was also eye-ing up my dad’s pizza. Although not on their webpage, The Herb Garden do sell desserts (a variety of ice creams, tiramisu, a veggie/vegan suitable citrus flavour mousse of some sort, a chocolate pot- and many more), as well as a range of cocktails, to finish up your meal.

Last- but certainly not least- waiting time, service, staff, and décor. The staff were all very friendly, very helpful, and didn’t forget to bring us water to the table when we’d asked (which, believe me, a lot of places seem to do)- the water was even infused with cucumber. We didn’t have a long wait for food at all- perhaps 15 or 20 minutes. And the décor…there are tonnes of round hot-air-balloon-style lights hanging from the ceiling, it feels very calm and casual on a lunch time (its different when people hit the cocktail menu of a Friday night). On one wall they are in the process of growing their own herbs using a series of metal barrels and hydroponics.

You can’t book unless you’re making use of their private dining area (eight people and over), which means that The Herb Garden is ideal for walk-ins. They also do takeaway, so feel free to grab food and head down to the quayside, which is just five minutes walk away.

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally try this amazing restaurant, and also that not many people seem to know its there- but I will definitely be back soon.


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