Mr Petit, at Old Eldon Square in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, serves small plates of well-presented food inspired by cuisines from around the globe. If you enjoy tapas-style dining but want to taste flavours from beyond Spain’s borders then you’re likely to appreciate a visit to this restaurant.
It opened during August 2017 and operates in basement premises. With just two small windows, Mr Petit is naturally dark; something that has been embraced by the choice of colours used to decorate the compact dining room.
The ceiling lamps are swirled with pinky-purple paint. Walls have been painted aubergine and the dado panelling is black. It’s likely that Mr Petit’s colour scheme would meet with the approved of the Goths who used to meet at Old Eldon Square on Saturdays.
Craft beers and wine by the glass
Mirrors with black, wrought metal frames adorn Mr Petit’s walls. An old-fashioned iron oven decorates the wall opposite the bar, which stocks with bottles of craft beer and sprits. Many of the wines that feature on the menu are served by the glass. Sangria, made with red wine and laced with Grand Marnier, promises to perk up anyone in a party mood.
I visited, accompanied by a guest, on a chilly Tuesday evening in the middle of the month. With rain tumbling outside, it was no surprise that the lion’s share of Mr Petit’s seats remained unoccupied. Most of the dark wood tables were set up for pairs of diners, and are topped by candles in glass holders, but this is a venue that also caters for groups.
Near intu Eldon Square
Mr Petit is well-situated for attracting shoppers seeking a bite to eat or a cocktail and a chat. It offers an independent alternative to the chain restaurants located within the nearby intu Eldon Square shopping centre.
Our waitress explained that most diners tend to select three dishes. Many of Mr Petit’s guests then share pieces from each other’s plates, something I love doing when I’m out with friends. Large cheese and charcuterie boards are also designed for sharing.
From the appetisers we selected a bowl of warm olives marinaded in oil laced with rosemary, thyme and lemon then glanced down the menu, which is arranged according to the world’s continents. Each group features four dishes, including one vegetarian option and a dessert.
Rather than sticking to just one continent we decided to go global, mixing and matching dishes to maximise on flavours.
Small plates to share
We decided to order a handful of plates then dip back for more.
We chose the charred melon served with baby leaf salad, olives and truffled feta cheese — from the Australasia section of the menu — as a light counterpoint to the barbecued beef kebab, served with onion and mushroom. We also plumped for the Indonesian sea bream. The citrusy, pan-fried fish’s crisp skin contrasted with its succulent flesh. It was served in a piquant coconut and coriander sauce accompanied by white rice.
Our second set of three dishes included lightly spiced garlic and chilli king prawns served with wilted lettuce. Out of curiosity we ordered the brik — crispy, triangular packets of zingy lamb accompanied by yogurt.
The deep-fried mac and cheese balls, half-buried in a creamy cheese sauce, was the most satisfying of round two. The combination of their crisp surface, pleasantly chewy centres and rounded flavour impressed.
Still a tad hungry, we then ordered a plate of kedgeree arancini. Featuring quail eggs wrapped in smoked haddock risotto and served with curry mayonnaise this proved one of the most satisfying dishes we ate at Mr Petit, along with the bream, due to its texture and depth of flavour.
To finish we decided to order one dessert between two. The sweet potato, pecan and orange cake proved a good choice. It wasn’t overly sweet and was deliciously moist.
The food served at Mr Petit is creatively presented and is likely to prove a smash with Instagram users. There could even be an argument that it’s serving the most instagrammable food in the Toon.
For foodies who enjoy meals with an eclectic mix of flavours it’s a restaurant that warrants stopping by the next time you’re in central Newcastle.
Mr Petit (4 Eldon Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 7JG; tel. 0191 484 1245) is open daily from noon until 10pm. Visit the restaurant’s website to see the full menu.
Photos illustrating this post are by Stuart Forster.
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Declaration: Stuart was invited to dine as a guest of Mr Petit to facilitate the writing and photography of this post. He retained full editorial control over the content of this post.