Published on May 2, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Meat and drink at a high level
When it comes to food and drink, Gateshead is on the rise. Regular food markets are proving popular at Dunston Staiths and Low Fell, and the area around the High Level Bridge is benefiting from a marketing boost – branded The Bridges Quarter – brought about by new businesses including Arch 16 Café, the Station East pub, the long-established and well-loved Central bar, and Gateshead Council.
The latest venture in the railway arches on Wellington Street (the High Level’s exit) continues the culture drive with Block & Bottle charcuterie and craft beer shop, which is a traditional butcher’s crossed with a cutting-edge beer emporium.
“I think we’re the first in the country to combine a butcher’s with fridges full of beer and a table where you can drink them,” says Katie Cullen, who runs the beer side of the business while partner Steven Warren cuts, cleaves and hangs the meat. “However, I would happily stand corrected if proved wrong.”
Steven has been a butcher for 12 years, starting “very old school high street” in his uncle’s shop in Darlington, and his dream has always been to run his own place. The Block & Bottle concept has been on the boil for over a year, during which time the couple relocated to the North East from living and working in London and Edinburgh – she in events management and he at Hook & Cleaver in Ealing. Steve had also been behind the butcher’s counter at Stewart & Co in Jesmond and in Newcastle’s Grainger Market.
Katie says: “We spotted an appetite for something like this but it was still a big decision.People these days like to know the provenance of their food – where it comes from and how it’s been prepared and how it’s an education for everybody.
“We like the ‘soul’ aspect of food and drink where friendships are made. People can even just come in and have a drink. There’s always a lot going on.”
The cuts displayed in the window and in the chiller are like going back in time, or transported to a European food capital market common in Lyon, Madrid or Bologna.
Block & Bottle’s meat is all rare breed or locally-bred with grass-fed Aberdeen Angus, Longhorn and Dexter beef dry-aged for four weeks. Pork is from Gloucester Old Spot pigs which Steve expertly cures and converts into brilliant sausage and his own salami; sopressata and chorizo.
As well as the beer fridges full of local and national beers and from the US and Belgium, Katie and Steven feature a “growler station” for sampling their ever-revolving range of craft keg beers.
“Block & Bottle is something we always wanted to do,” says Katie. “We’ve been planning this for so long and it’s been such hard work, it’s really great fun now.”