Igloo pod dining is an option at Christmas Tyne, which is being held at Baltic Square in Gateshead until 1 January 2019. Also known as Gateshead Winter Village, the pods overlook the River Tyne between Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
On Saturday evening I was invited, along with a guest, for a three-course dinner plus a welcome drink in one of Christmas Tyne’s riverside igloo pods.
The square on which Gateshead Winter Village stands felt aptly named on Saturday evening. The temperature was bitingly cold.
Exploring Gateshead Winter Village
Would we be warm enough while dining in the igloo pod? Had we donned enough layers? Should we have dressed smartly for the occasion? That discussion occupied us as we strolled from Gateshead Interchange past the Sage Gateshead towards Baltic Square.
My first impression of the igloo pods, from the footpath on Shore Road, was by no means positive. They looked more like flimsy plastic tents rather than the solid looking, snow globe-style structures that I was expecting after seeing images online.
The fenced winter village stands next to Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which was illuminated purple on Saturday. Delicious wafts of Asian-style street food and grilling sausages smelt tempting as we headed past the market’s stalls to check out the pods. People were sitting inside watching Christmas movies. Where would we be dining? None of the tables looked large enough to seat 10 people. We were, we concluded, in the wrong part of the village.
An elf throwing snowballs
The private dining pods were, in fact, by no mean difficult to find. They were located behind a wooden gate in the other side of the village, closer to the entrance of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
A quick look around the other attractions within Gateshead Winter Village revealed more food stalls plus a tent in which a character dressed as an elf looked as if he was having a fun time throwing snowballs made from fake snow — something we decided to check out in more detail during a future visit.
More pressingly, ears stinging from the cold meant prioritising getting inside the tipi to warm by a fire pit. I was cold but nowhere near chilly enough to decline a pint of IPA. Halfway through leisurely sipping on my beer I remembered that we still had to register for our dinner (diners are requested to check-in 15 minutes ahead of their allotted 90-minute slot).
We were shown into a dining pod, seating 10 people, whose guests included Hannah Lee Gray of Capital Radio’s north-east breakfast radio show and its producer Thomas Hannett, the team behind For the Love of the North, photographer and blogger Mandy Charlton, plus travel blogger Danielle Noonan. Each pod has an its own speaker for music. We left it to our pros from radio to choose the tunes.
Igloo pod dining at Christmas Tyne
We need not have worried about feeling cold inside of the pod. The snug igloo pods are heated and the door is zipped closed between the delivery of the three courses of dishes, which diners then pass around the table. Windows facing the river can be pushed open to let in air and snap photos of Newcastle’s Quayside.
Infusion sticks forming a part of the table decoration lent the pod a cinnamon aroma. They stood on a wooden board next to realistic looking faux candles that prompted me to think, briefly, of the Two Ronnies.
The three-course menu
For our starter we were served a spicy roasted parsnip soup that met with nods of approval.
That was followed by sliced smoked and glazed bacon loin, from Northumberland, accompanied by mustard mashed potato, braised red cabbage and sprouts prepared with lardons and chestnuts — Yuletide food fit for the chilly night. The veggie option was a filo pastry pie with a butternut squash and Stilton filling.
The dessert, a tad sweet but palatable, was warm chocolate fondant topped with a dollop of clotted brandy cream.
The serving team were attentive and courteous throughout the meal.
I departed the igloo pod having enjoyed the food, feeling that I’d had a good time. My impression is that the three-course meals for 10 represent decent value for groups seeking traditional Christmas cuisine in an alternative setting to one of Newcastle or Gateshead’s established restaurants.
We decided to have a farewell drink in the tipi before crossing Gateshead Millennium Bridge for a night out in Newcastle.
See the Christmas Tyne website for more information on how to book dinner in one of the igloo pods (priced from £199 for a pod seating 10 diners, including a three-course meal plus welcome drinks).
Stuart Forster, the author of this article, is based in the north-east of England. Stuart is available for freelance commissions. Feel free to make contact via this website or by calling +44 (0) 7947 587136.
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Disclosure: Stuart was invited to dine in one of the igloo pods as a guest of Christmas Tyne. Christmas Tyne did not review or approve this article.