All The Way Up To Eleven

Sarah Waddington reports and revels on the self described 'Small, down-to-earth bistro' 'Eleven' in Ponteland, Northumberland
May 5, 2022

The North East has no shortage of good places to eat but restaurant and wine bar Eleven brings something new - modern, seasonal menus and good vibes in an atmospheric setting that makes it well worth a visit. Sarah Waddington reports.

Living by coast means we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good restaurants so it’s rare we’ll venture far, but a trip to Ponteland to try new restaurant and wine bar Eleven was well worth the taxi ride. This is a pretty little town on the River Pont, just beyond the urban sprawl of Newcastle, and famous so far for its medieval church and an ancient pele tower.

But Eleven – at 11 Main Street – is set to add to the list of outstanding local features. It’s where the Post Box café used to be, but Eleven enjoys a more pared-back look and feel, with light walls covered in imagery by local photographer Chris Owens and wooden tables complemented by leather seating in sage green.

It’s run by three friends: chefs Danny Land and Ryan Carr and front of house manager Stephen Pitfield. Finding themselves without jobs when the pandemic hit in 2020, and with the prospect of finding new jobs slim in an industry hit so hard, they decided to take ownership of the situation. They opened Eleven in 2021.

What they have created is a relaxed, modern British and hyper-seasonal restaurant, where the menus are regularly reimagined. The food is very much produce driven and the guys work with the very best producers and suppliers in the UK. “We forage a lot for the restaurant ourselves. Being situated in beautiful Northumberland we are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so much great produce growing in abundance and a lot of it regularly features on our menus.

”I’m no food critic so I hope chefs Danny and Ryan will forgive my descriptions, but pretty much every plate on the dinner menu hit the spot. The wine was exceptional. We started the evening with a glass of Bill cart Salmon Brut Reserve, a light and crisp champagne paired nicely with fermented potato bread and cultured butter. After that, looking at the menu, I was lost where to start with the wine list, so front of house manager Stephen stepped in with some suggestions. I’m glad he did.

A glass of Italian Fiano accompanied the Catalan tomato, radish and anchovy dish which was fresh, flavoursome and light on the palate. The Northumbrian leek, Comte and copper trentina arrived with a froth, which I’m always suspicious of, even when watching MasterChef, but this was delicious, with the leek offering a subtle undertone that went well with our glass of Viognier.

The texture of the Cornish monkfish with borlotti beans and artichoke was a highlight for me, as was the glass of Gewurtztraminer, an Austrian wine I’d not tried before but will again. Both of us found the mallard dish with girolles superb, with elderberries providing little bursts of juice that really added to the flavour. Under Stephen’s direction we swapped to a glass of Morgan, which was again great advice.

In my experience, cheese courses rarely come with the cheese at exactly the right room temperature but the Baron Bigod with quince was just that and while I’d turned this down, I ended up tucking into the other half’s, much to his displeasure. Last but not least on the menu was a dessert of cultured cream, plum and bee pollen, enjoyed with a Muscat de Baume de Venise. Cream (a bit like froth) doesn't do it for me so this was the one dish that I couldn’t finish but there was definitely an empty plate at the other side of the table.

With all this in mind and a small, friendly and attentive team, it’s no surprise that Eleven has already been listed in the Michelin Guide. At £55 a head, the set menu isn’t cheap but it is excellent value for money and we both agreed that we’d easily have paid £85 or more per person had the restaurant been in London.

We went for date night and I’m pretty convinced this will soon become the place everyone goes for a romantic and intimate meal, but Eleven would equally serve as an excellent location for a dinner with clients or family celebration. Highly recommend.

11 Main Street, Ponteland, Northumberland, Ne20 9NH