Sunderland Restaurant Week (9-17 September)

The third Sunderland Restaurant Week takes place from 9 to 17 September 2017. The event involves more than 50 cafes and restaurants in and around Sunderland. It means opportunities for diners to select dishes from two course menus for £10, or three courses for £15, at participating businesses.

The first Sunderland Restaurant Week was held in March 2016. Foodies living in the north-east of England may be familiar with the concept from the biannual Newcastle Restaurant Week. That event, involving restaurants in Newcastle city centre, takes place in January and August.

Restaurants and cafés participating in Sunderland Restaurant Week are listed on the Sunderland BID website. People who want to dine at one of those venues are encouraged to make a booking and to download a voucher.

I had an opportunity to find out more about the event during a safari supper held across four of the participating venues.

Underground in Sunderland. The subtly lit Prosecco Bar.
Underground in Sunderland. The subtly lit Prosecco Bar.

Sunderland’s new Prosecco Bar

The event started with nibbles and a glass of bubbly at the subterranean Prosecco Bar cocktail lounge, below The Funky Indian (39 Borough Road, Sunderland; 0191 567 4444). The opening of the lounge-bar is planned for mid-September.

“Sunderland was known for Indian and Italian cuisine five or six years ago but now the city has a massive array of dining offers,” said Kam Chera, the owner of both. Diners can now find Egyptian, modern British and even Berlin-style Turkish dishes served on Wearside.

With mood lighting, alcove seating and low, dark wood tables the Prosecco Bar offers what Kam describes as a ‘boudoir’ atmosphere. He has plans to host live jazz and blues session. DJs will lay tracks at the end of the week.

Around 20 different types of the eponymous sparkling wine will feature on the wine list at the Prosecco Bar.

To share or all mine? Onion bhajis served Prosecco Bar in Sunderland.
To share or all mine? Onion bhajis served at the Prosecco Bar in Sunderland.

A view of the River Wear

The safari supper concept meant moving venues between courses.

Asiana Fusion Restaurant (Echo 24 Building, Sunderland, SR1 1XD; 0191 510 0099) has floor-to-ceiling windows providing diners with outstanding views of Wearmouth Bridge and the River Wear. The University of Sunderland’s St Peter’s Campus is located on the far side of the river, next to the National Glass Centre.

Succulent Peking ribs proved the stand out dish on a sharing platter of starters. After being marinaded, the ribs are cut, to retain their shape, then fried in hot oil. They are then coated in Peking sauce. The ribs feature on the Asiana mixed platter for two.

The crispy aromatic duck parcel, served with Hoisin sauce, was a joy to devour thanks to its rich flavour and texture. The parcels are a good bet for anybody who wants to savour the duck meat normally served with pancakes but can’t persuade a fellow diner to share. (But who would want to ‘duck’ that?)

As Asiana’s name hints, dishes are inspired by the cuisines and flavours of south-east Asia.

Pulled from a sharing platter, Asian style starters at Asiana.
Pulled from a sharing platter, Asian style starters at Asiana Fusion Restaurant.

Tipi at Port of Call

Tipi at Port of Call (1 Park Lane, Sunderland, SR1 3NX; tel. 0191 514 5408) opened on the last weekend of August. The subtly illuminated tent-bar, in the back yard of Port of Call, serves cocktails plus a decent selection of beers, including brews from Beavertown and Tyne Bank.

The menu includes an array of smokehouse style dishes, including barbecued pulled pork and brisket. The pulled pork is combined cheese and a six-ounce patty of beef to create the smoke stack burger.

Flatbreads and loaded fries (chips with a choice of toppings) feature on a menu that is likely to make Port of Call a popular choice with people who enjoy hefty chunks meat.

Smoke stack burgers, layered with pulled pork, served on a wooden board.
Smoke stack burgers, layered with pulled pork, served on a wooden board.

Time for tea and cake

The safari supper ended with a slice of fondant-topped carrot cake and a cuppa at Serendipity Tea and Trinkets (10 Frederick Street, Sunderland; 0191 510 0054). Normally open only during the daytime, it’s one of the cafes offering £5 deals during Sunderland Restaurant Week.

Like most of the venues participating in the event, the café is an independent business. Serendipity hosts baby showers, vintage tea parties and private functions, in addition to being open to daytime customers for tea, coffee and home-style cakes.

Wearside’s culinary scene is evolving and Sunderland Restaurant Week looks set to provide a catalyst for people to dine in restaurants they haven’t already visited.

Just a thin slice for me? A choice of cakes at Serendipity Tea and Trinkets.
Just a thin slice for me? A choice of cakes at Serendipity Tea and Trinkets.

Further information

The third Sunderland Restaurant Week runs from Saturday 9 until Sunday 17 September 2017. Find out more on the Sunderland Business Improvement District website.

Follow the #EatDrinkSunderland hashtag on social media to see Sunderland Restaurant Week tweets and images posted on Instagram.

Take a look at the See it Do It Sunderland website for an overview of attractions in the city, which is a candidate to become the UK City of Culture in 2021.

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Disclosure: Stuart was invited to sample food at four of the venues participating in Sunderland Restaurant Week during a Safari Supper held to showcase the event. He had complete editorial freedom in writing this post. 

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