Branches - Where Flavours And Atmosphere Flourish

Issue 103

By Jackie Marston

I don’t know if everyone is like us, but since Covid, some excellent restaurants that we used to frequent have just fallen off the radar. One such place, for us, was Branches in Jesmond. We used to absolutely love it, especially their legendary Sunday lunches. We decided to go recently, as it popped up on my Facebook newsfeed and we were so glad we did. To say that it was one of the best lunches we’ve had for a long time would be an understatement.

We arrived at the lovely, floral, airy restaurant and warmly greeted by front of house manager, Stuart, who in turn explained that our waitress was Yve. Both so friendly, warming and knowledgeable when it came to the menu.

The venue itself is so beautiful, with eyecatching flowers all over the place – it looks stunning. Before ordering, we were brought hot, crusty bread, with whipped butter and basil salt, which was so good. I had to stop myself, as I could have feasted on this until the basket was empty!

Richard went with the marinated slow cooked beetroot and goats cheese. This was made up of multi-coloured beets, French goats cheese, which was extremely creamy, fennel seeds, infused filo pastry and fresh honeycomb and apple. The honeycomb was a new one to both of us and absolutely set this dish alight. Again, a work of art on the plate, but a real delight on the tongue too. I chose from the Prix Fixe menu and had pan fried chilli and garlic king prawns. This came with a lovely zingy mango salsa, coriander, charred lime, and salsa. A delight for the tastebuds!

In between the starter and main course there was also a savoury bon-bon each, which was crunchy, herby, and filled with chorizo. One bite of deliciousness was in this parcel of goodness, and it was gratefully eaten in record time.

For main I had chosen tagliatelle carbonara, which came with a crispy, soft in the middle, poached egg. The smoked pancetta and the aged Grana Padano was so complementary to this dish, and although I could only eat a couple of mouthfuls of it, they were fine with me taking it home, as I knew my appetite wouldn’t manage three courses and I had my eyes firmly set on dessert. The egg, oozing over the carbonara was a sight to behold and enhanced the flavour to another level.

Richard chose the oven roasted bass and shellfish. This came with a huge piece of fish, cooked to perfection, cream, spring greens, buttered new potatoes and a hint of lobster oil. In his words, the best fish dish he’d eaten in a long time.

Again, in between this course and our chosen desserts was the caberet of smoking strawberries and cream, done the Branches Way! This was a strawberries and cream infusion, which when the flavoured essence and dry ice added, was not only a sight for sore eyes, but it also smelt of fresh strawberries in a field. A lovely, artistic touch which just added to the whole experience.

Desserts were bourbon sticky toffee pudding with caramel ice cream and cinder toffee and my absolute favourite. Not usually one for sweets, my husband, but he said this ticked every box; creamy ice cream, deliciously thick and rich toffee sauce and a light pudding texture made this dish extremely moreish. We were sharing desserts and so the other one was their Valrhona Dulcey Cremieux with dulce de leche, nougatine, dark chocolate aero and Jersey mile ice cream. A rich, creamy dessert with flavours galore going on, each one complementing the others. This was a light dessert and ideal for someone who wants to finish their meal off with a creamy, sweet treat.

For a glass of white wine, a pint of lager, a coffee, an espresso martini, and a bottle of water, along with the meal itself the total bill was £130.55, which considering some of the dishes we ordered incurred a supplement was exceptionally good value for money. Their prix fixe menu is just £27.95 at lunch!

Like I said at the beginning of this review, some places just fall off your map for one reason or another, but we’ll be sure to make sure this one doesn’t again, as it was one of the best restaurants we’ve been to in a long time!

Branches Jesmond, 9 Osborne Road, NE2 2AE. 0191 239 9924.


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