September 1, 2018
The owners behind Wylam Brewery have transformed a disused area on Gateshead Quayside, under the Tyne Bridge, into a thriving eating and drinking destination in the latest trendy building material –shipping containers.
At weekends, a bevy of independent street food outlets – each in their own quirky shipping container – provides everything from deep fried Oreos to popcorn mussels.
During the week, however, the culinary offering is limited to Träkol restaurant.
Located in the main tap room and brewery space, Träkol – which means ‘charcoal’ in Swedish – is described as a “fiercely seasonal open fire kitchen that brings primitive outdoor cooking indoors.” Intrigued, I was keen to give it a try.
Inside the surprisingly cosy restaurant, you can choose between views of the river or the kitchen where chefs busily work over open fires using fuel and wood from chestnut and cox apple trees for their “nose to tail cooking”. Träkol only uses British rare and heritage breeds and uses Himalayan salt dry aged meat which it prepares on site.
The menu offers a selection of snacks, small plates, mains and sides as well as a ‘feasting’ section – comprising the likes of ‘middle white pig, half a roast head, 1kg chop, black pudding, caramelised apples and watercress and grilled potatoes to share’ – and a raw/cured section where you’ll find ox heart, octopus and Lindisfarne oysters.
My two colleagues and I opted to start our Träkol experience by sharing some of the smaller dishes and happily munched our way through crisp pig tails with mission spice, flamed surf clams and the ox heart tartare. The pigs tails, in particular, proved a real treat.
While my colleagues made a beeline for the Barnsley chop and the aged sirlion steak for their mains (both were beautifully cooked and huge!), I opted for something a little different – the cauliflower steak with shawarma spices, toasted almonds and pickles.
More a full head of cauliflower than a steak, it had been expertly charred over the open fire and tasted amazing. I never knew cauliflower could pack in so much flavour.
Despite the epic mains, we couldn’t resist finishing off our meals by sharing the deconstructed cheesecake (roasted strawberries, cream cheese, oats and almonds) and the peanut, chocolate and salt caramel sundae.
Shipping container developments may be springing up all over the UK – another one has already opened in Newcastle – however By the River Brew Co. doesn’t feel gimmicky.
Similarly, Träkol is chiming into a trend for more ethical meat eating, but this restaurant is so much more than a flash in the pan.
Crispy pig tails, mission spice £3.50
Ox heart tartare £6
Flamed surf clams with fermented black beans and chilli £8.50
Chargrilled cauliflower streak, Shawarma spices, toasted almonds and pickles £11
300g aged sirloin, heritage tomato, smoked marrow bone and fries £18
Barnsley chop, seaweed butter, cockles and sea vegetables £16
Roasted strawberries, cheese cake cream, oats and almonds £6
Peanut, chocolate, salt caramel sundae £6
By The River Brew Co.