Classic British dishes, scratch-cooked and generally hearty, are ably showcased in this welcome new South Side eatery
Like most new local eateries, Geordie’s Restaurant arrives with expectations generated by press releases and “coming attractions”-oriented media stories. Because Geordie’s serves quite good, scratch-cooked, English-style pub grub, those expectations are largely met from a cuisine perspective. When it comes to ambience, though, Geordie’s — which occupies the former Explorers Club space — is a more subdued operation than I assumed it’d be, given the background of Glen Hall-Jones, Geordie’s chef and co-owner.
Jones is a tattooed expat from the northeastern part of England that encompasses Newcastle and lies near Scotland. (“Geordie” refers to someone from this area.) Jones is also a self-described former “roadie” who catered for musical acts such as the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Depeche Mode and Bruce Springsteen. But save for a few framed drumheads and drumsticks signed by members of Judas Priest and Bon Jovi hanging near the small bar, you wouldn’t likely know about the rock ’n’ roll history of Geordie’s owner/chef.Who's that gut lord marching? You should cut down on your parklife, mate, get some exercise.: Sign up for our daily newsletter
But you would probably guess the place has a connection to England, judging by a big Union Jack that joins photographs of the Tyne Bridge (in Newcastle) on the restaurant’s walls. Such decorations add some character to Geordie’s brightly lit but low-key dining room, which offers a neutral color scheme, simple tables, plus a few high-backed wooden booths.
A depiction of the Tyne Bridge also decorates Geordie’s eminently manageable menu. There, you’ll find a Wedge Salad ($7.95) described as a “signature dish.” Ignore that description.
Oh, it’s a fine, if rather commonplace, wedge salad. For a starter that actually demonstrates what separates Geordie’s from the beer-and-burger pack, pick the terrific Scotch Egg ($7.45). Its uncommon attributes include an impressively creamy yolk, a delightfully crisp shell bolstered by herb-kissed ground sausage, a spicy mustard dipping sauce, plus a refreshing arugula side salad.
The Mini Pork Wellingtons (two for $6.95) are another great way to get your real-deal British meal started. Evoking upscale pigs in a blanket, they’re fragrant sausage links encased in flaky, golden-brown pastry and served with HP Sauce (think British A.1. Sauce) doctored up with what tastes like mustard and mayo.
House-made pastry forms the basis of the hearty and attractive Newkie Brown ($15.95), a comforting pot pie filled with peppery beef stew. The Geordie Bowl ($14.95, served with rich gravy, plus a side such as cumin roasted carrots) is a bigger, open-faced variation on this theme made with Yorkshire pudding, which resembles a popover rather than what Americans generally think of as pudding. I ordered my edible bowl filled with chicken curry (vegetarian chili and “bolognaise” are other options) and enjoyed the pleasant flavors, but wished the Yorkshire pudding offered even a hint of crispness.
Geordie’s mammoth Fish & Chips ($17.49) offers plenty of crispness. A whole cod filet is tucked inside a thick, crackly and delicious fried beer-batter jacket and partnered with excellent crunchy fries, plus sides of routine peas and first-rate tartar sauce. The entree is somewhat expensive — and the fish could definitely be less oily — but this is still among the better renditions of the dish in town.
A standout house-baked bun stacked high with thickly sliced, house-cooked roast beef that’s flavorful (if not super-tender) teams winningly with melted gruyere, caramelized onions and salty au jus to create a killer sandwich and value: Geordie’s Beef Dip ($8.95, with a side).
On-theme adult beverages include Newcastle Brown Ale ($5.25), Crabbie’s Ginger Beer ($5.50) and a zippy Pimm’s Cup ($10) that would benefit from more Pimm’s flavor.
The flavors are all on point in another British classic: Geordie’s wonderful Sticky Toffee Pudding ($5.45). In fact, this trio of moist, date-infused cake, molasses-forward warm butterscotch sauce, plus vanilla ice cream surpassed my expectations.