I knew it was always going to be a challenge finding somewhere to go for Newcastle Restaurant Week. After looking at virtually every offer going and browsing many restaurants websites we decided we had to try Hawthorns.

Hawthorns, located at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, a quick stroll from the train station, is doing things that many other restaurants aren’t. First of all, it is modern, bright and sleek. The huge windows bring in lots of light, the decor is clean and the seats are comfortable. They also had a singer in the background entertaining the diners, which was really sweet.

They cater for all types of people as well, couples like us, but also families and business men both in groups and alone, who were all dining on this particular evening.

One thing I particularly love about this restaurant is the passion from Executive Chef, Chris Wood, and his team to work with local companies. There is a map in the menu itself showing where a lot of their produce comes from such as bread from Geordie Bakers and cheese from the Northumberland Cheese Company, to name a few. A full list is available on their website.

Once we arrived, where seated and ordered some soft drinks, we were given the wrong menu (everyday menu ) which was rectified straight away giving us the Restaurant Week Menu instead. It was actually the bar menu, offering a selection of small plates, in this case two for £10 or three for £15.

We decided on three each, therefore sharing six between us. Everything we ordered was brought to us on three slabs of wood.

The best thing by far on those slabs of wood were the Pig Skin Quavers. I love pork scratching’s at the best of time, but these where something else. Light, fluffy, crunchy swirls of pig skin seasoned perfectly with a generous amount of salt, chilli, spring onion and pepper. So moreish, they need to start selling these in family size packets, so I can eat them all!

I also really enjoyed the Popcorn Cajun Rabbit. The little chunks of rabbit were so soft inside that spicy shell, I could barely pick them up without them falling apart. The Cajun spices were so delicious, but didn’t overpower the taste of the rabbit.

We also ordered Chicken Flatbread, which had a very thin, crispy base, a sweet and spicy tomato-y sauce, slices of chicken and salami and plenty of salad which was very pleasant.

The Sticky Chilli and Ginger Chicken Wings sadly, we didn’t enjoy very much, they had gone slightly dry and didn’t have much flavour except for a slight hint from the ginger. But the Mac and Cheese Bon Bon’s made up for that as they were also very moreish. Made with Smoked Doddington’s Cheese mixed with well-cooked macaroni pasta before being deep fired creating a crispy shell, they were perfect smothered in the fresh, very bright, tomato chutney accompaniment.

To please the other half we also ordered the Turnbull of Alnwick’s Pork Pie. Not being a big fan of pork pies myself I was happy for him to enjoy this himself, minus a bite from me. As pork pies go, it was pretty good, the meat inside was well seasoned and the crust was good. However what I was very disappointed with was the size of it. Half a pork pie is what was served up to us at the table, half! and it was a standard size one. I think if you’re ordering pork pie on a menu you expect the full thing.

Pork pie problems aside, the delicious local food, atmosphere and attentive staff would bring me back to this restaurant again. Thanks Restaurant Week again for introducing me to another great place in good old Newcastle.

Visit http://www.hawthorns-ncl.com/ for more information.

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