It's not often that a new bar opens in Newcastle, there are just a handful of decent cocktail bars in town (Popolo, Alvinos, Tokyo, Livello if that's you're sort of thing) so it was certainly a welcome addition - I am always looking for somewhere for after work drinks and casual food. Rumours have abounded for the last couple of months to a supposed 'gin palace' opening and with at least 50 gins from around the world, (plus a well selected, interesting range of craft beers) it seems to be pretty close to the mark.
Rather than play up the whole prohibition, speakeasy style that would go so well with the gin and cocktail theme, the decor is kept 'city smart', polished brass, exposed bricks and leather booths (and really nice toilets but a ludicrously unnecessary bike). Housed in what used to be The Lane, a pub long closed before I ever came to Newcastle, it's great to see another thriving business opening on Highbridge, no matter what it is.
We went down on the opening night of Pleased to Meet You, but only stayed for one after feelings of (unrelated) nausea. You could already tell, however, that this was instantly going to be a success. It was full of rich looking business men, looking for somewhere smart and slick, and 20-30 somethings who have an interest in good drinks.
And the drinks menu is very, very good. I haven't gone for beers yet, but the gin menu is seriously amazing, the cocktails well thought out and well made. The actual glasses are lovely too.
The problem we found, when visiting on a recent Thursday, was w-a-i-t-i-n-g. Half the bar couldn't serve cocktails, people weren't sure how much stuff costed and it's not on the menu, I got charged different prices for the same drink at different times in the night and all round wasn't the sort of experience that would make you come back, no matter how good the drinks are.
To add to this, the table situation, was a whole lot more confusing. Could you just sit down and order food? Were some tables reserved? Could you take a table instead of putting your name down if one was free? Can you have a table if you just want to drink? No one seemed to know and there was some strange game on musical chairs happening between the tables throughout the night. Too many people, not enough tables; lots of people drinking and no where to eat food. We almost gave up and went elsewhere.
We perched in the corner at a sort of dressing table until we got our 'proper' table. Then it took me literally about half an hour to get the waitresses attention to order a drink, although it has to be said the man who looked in charge of tables and food service was very good.
Now, I know I said I wouldn't talk about burgers any more, and I don't really want to, but Pleased to Meet You seem to have made something of their burger; it being freshly ground chuck, brioche bun, dill sauce and pickles (£8). It ticked all my burger requirement boxes, it was almost necessary for me to try it.
Now, this was a good burger, although under seasoned it was juicy and pink with a strong meaty flavour and a nice sauce, but that is NOT a brioche bun, that is a sesame seed bap.
I felt cheated as soon as it arrived. It reminds me of when I used to work in a cafe about 10 years ago and sometimes we'd give people toasted white bread buns pretending they were ciabatta.
The portion of chips were very nice but on the small size, although nothing compared with the thimble of coleslaw. The accompanying salad of cucumber and watercress was fresh and well dressed.
I'm tempted to throw in a line like 'Pleased to Meet You, except I'm not sure I was', but that's just lazy writing and not even true. On the whole it is a very promising new bar, which I liked a lot.
You would imagine service issues will be rectified as time goes on, I'm just more likely to come for gin, cocktails and nice glassware than food unfortunately.