#ETW17: Breakfast/Brunch in Middlesbrough

Eating out is one of my favourite things to do, and I think most people can agree. But sometimes and evening meal is too much effort and lunch is too time consuming, which is exactly why breakfast is the best time to eat out. With America popularising Brunch (which is possibly the best idea to come out of that country after Oreos) I think that we need to talk about that too. The ever-present question is ‘Where?’ I’ll tell you where, and when, right here, right now.

We’re sticking within the centre of Middlesbrough so you don’t have so much choice you give up and eat toast and jam at home. Here’s the 15 places for you to fill your belly and boots on a morning (and doesn’t that sound like clickbait).

Café Roys

We’ll start here, with good old comfort food. The typical British fry up is exactly what you can expect from this place. Its prices are on the low side so it’s perfect for students with that god-awful headache looking for a grease fix as well as for families with young kids. A kid-friendly place with cheap prices, who could ask for more. Look down on Victoria Road for this one, and check out their Facebook.

Sandybells Café

Our next place is Sandybells Café on Bulmer Way. This is another place for the tradition English breakfast, very similar to Café Roys but with better parking access, remember all the places listed here are within walking distance of at least one of the carparks in Middlesbrough. They are Child-friendly and do takeout, so you can take your breakfast to work and make your colleagues jealous. It’s also waiter service so if you’re too tired to walk to the counter this is brilliant. Open Monday to Saturday 8am ‘till 3pm, is this the perfect place for you? They’re also on Facebook for all your questions.

The Swatters Carr

You can’t go to America and not go to a Fast Food Restaurant, and you can’t come to England without having a Pub meal; and breakfast is the best option. The Swatters Carr is super cheap but really tasty. Served from 8am until noon, their traditional breakfast is less than £3, bargain. They also served tea and coffee for less than £1, you can’t beat it. They don’t just do traditional, they have Veggie options, children’s breakfasts and American Pancakes (maybe you can eat American in England). They do have a few healthy options too, like Tropical fruit and Greek style honey. They’re waiting on Linthorpe Road for you, Monday to Sunday from 8am, serving breakfast ‘till noon.

The Star

Let’s look at another pub, honestly England’s full of them, and go to The Star (awesome name). Serving breakfast ‘till 3pm, this is possibly the best place to go. Their menu is limited for breakfast for you can take your meal away with you, so who can complain. This isn’t one for early risers though as they don’t start serving until 10am, I guess that’s student early though.

The Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road is a special place in Middlesbrough with a great background. They use locally sourced ingredients and are doing everything they can to make Middlesbrough a better place. They do their best to help people back onto their feet and back into the world through their ‘programme designed to offer precious opportunities to those needing a helping hand’. They also have a great menu that strays from the traditional, going for higher end food and the food that’s good for you (and some that’s really, really not). They also offer unlimited coffee and wifi for just £5, can’t beat that. This is the perfect place for your brunch meeting, or just working outside the office, with food, and coffee, and free wifi. I think I’m working in the wrong place.

Café Zim

Café Zim is our healthy option- and yes you read that right…healthy *shudders*. For all I hate the healthy foods (chocolate all the way) I have to say that this menu looks good. With a healthy version of the Full English, 3 different types of eggs, sandwiches, oats and yoghurts, you really can’t go wrong. It’s cheap as well, with all breakfast options served below £8.00 (and you get a LOT of food for that money). Serving from 9am till 11am means you can go for a healthy brunch too. Much better than a McDonald’s breakfast, I have to say.

Bedford St Coffee

Saying this is my personal favourite would be unfair, but boy do they do good poached eggs. Bedford Street is parallel to Baker Street (where Café Zim lives) and both have recently undergone a total overhaul, bringing in new businesses which are awesome! This is the place for coffee lovers, they have the best coffee and some new ways of brewing –like the aeropress for example. Their menu isn’t the most extensive and is pretty sophisticated (for me anyway) so it’s not a place I’d recommend for kids to eat. If you just want to eat yourself and provide your child with a sweet treat and a drink, they always have a great range of delicious pastries and their white hot chocolate is the one drink your child will want to finish.  They’re breakfast options are served all day and they open from 8am so perfect for the early risers.

Cupeno Coffee

Another coffee house, coffee and breakfast seem to go together. Cupeno Coffee is child-friendly and just delicious. It’s the perfect start to the day and open from 7am so I guess they only see the kind of people who take 6am jogs. I’m kidding, people who take 6am jogs are too healthy for coffee. For those of you who love the different types of drink, they serve an amazing (if fattening) white hot chocolate, yum! They serve delicious pastries, toasties and paninis, just waiting for you to try. And with 10% student discount you really can’t complain.

The Good Food Joint

Another greasy breakfast place, but this time all day. They open from 6:30am (these times are getting earlier, how the owners get up this early I will never understand) and do the Full English, as promised. They’re also open match days with away fans welcome, let’s hope they know how to end a fight.

Goodbody’s Eaterie

Goodbody’s have a good range of options for your breakfast, from the greasy sausages and bacon to the healthy poached eggs with avocado on toast, they’ve got it all. They have plenty of Veggie options and are slowing bringing in more and more gluten free options… perfect! They are reasonably priced too and it’s a great atmosphere. Perfect for breakfast meetings. And open from 8am (getting back to normal times).

Yates

This is the one chain restaurant (pub) in this list and I have to say, I’m slightly ashamed of myself. This is, however, perfect for the fussy eater. You know you can rely on this place to be just as good as every other Yates you’ve been in. It’s the typical pub menu for breakfast (and lunch and dinner but we’re not talking about that) and it’s also great value. Breakfast is served until noon and there’s wifi, so you can’t complain about this one really.

Love Middlesbrough Lasses
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Taking the Fork in the Road

fork-exteriorA new Middlesbrough restaurant with a difference, the Fork in the Road, opened its doors to the public for the first time on Christmas Eve. The charity behind it promised that it would be a place of “great food, great ambience and great opportunity.” I tested the water and the food recently with a party of friends and it ticked all those boxes and far more.

The Fork in the Road has been described as being unique in North East, it is a charity-funded, not-for-profit eaterie but run by highly experienced catering professionals mentoring a number of trainees looking for a second chance in life. The trainees include ex-offenders, those in recovery from addiction and the long-term unemployed.

Furthermore the restaurant shares a kitchen and helps subsidise Middlesbrough’s first alcohol free bar upstairs in Bar Zero. Both restaurant and bar are funded by Middlesbrough-based national charity CEO Sleepout and Public Health England.

fork-burgerYou have to applaud the intentions but how does the food compare to other local restaurants? We recently put it to the test.

It was a Saturday night and five of us had booked a table (a couple of days before). When we met up it was straight after a Boro defeat at the Riverside. As three of us are fans, including a long distance traveller but Boro season card holder, Bjarte, from Bergen, Scandinavia, it is fair to say we were in need of a lift.

We took our table early and stayed right through the whole evening but were never under any pressure to vacate our table, in a comfortable spacious corner. In fact the staff could not have been more accommodating and the atmosphere was so relaxed. We had a cheeky singer songwriter amongst us to keep the waitress on her toes but it was all so friendly throughout and it is fair to say the wine flowed. Well, amongst those not driving. I was driving!

Bjarte, being a hearty northerner with a big appetite to satisfy ordered a large steak. He also had an extra potato gratin side dish. He later said it was one of the best steak’s he had ever eaten. So that was high praise coming from a man that has covered so many miles criss crossing Europe.

fork-sticky-toffee-puddingMy friend Louise absolutely loved her luxury burger dish. It did look mouth watering. Mind you, I wasn’t going to be distracted because both Elaine (the singer) and myself were tucking into a delicious, creamy chicken chasseur. Yum.

Sarah works at a local award winning restaurant and so when she declared that her wild mushroom hot pot was gorgeous then… well, put it this way, she knows what she is talking about.

Bjarte had his just desserts with a vanilla ice cream, or vanilla ice baby as he might have styled it. Sarah had lemon tart. Two of us had fantastic chocolate fondants. I think the correct expression would be moreish. I noticed the sticky toffee puddings did not hang around long on their plates.

The Fork in the Road occupies a famous shop space, the former Romer Parrish toyshop. Once the second biggest toyshop in the country behind Hamleys, it is fondly remembered as an emporium of subbuteo, airfix models, lego, hornby train lay outs, action man and barbie dolls. The Linthorpe Road site is opposite the town’s booming Baker Street and Bedford Street regeneration zone, so could not be any better positioned.

During renovation work, old steel beams embossed with the name of Middlesbrough firm Dorman Long, were uncovered. The attractive interior designs now incorporate this icon of Teesside history. Interior architect Sara Jacobs, a former Teesside University student was responsible for those designs. Fahim Farooqui of Total Planning Solutions designed the eye catching external frontage.

Fork in the Road restaurant, Linthorpe Road Middlesbrough. 23/12/16 Pic Doug Moody Photography

Fork in the Road restaurant, Linthorpe Road Middlesbrough.
23/12/16 Pic Doug Moody Photography

The 60-seat restaurant caters for lunches as well as dinners. I have yet to sample the daytime menu. Perhaps that will be my next assignment.

louie-millerTalking of which since our big Saturday out there have been a few changes, including the menu. That is because The Fork in the Road has a new head chef in Louie Miller, formerly of the award-winning Nags Head at Pickhill, near Thirsk, the Star at Harome, near Helmsley, Aysgarth Falls Hotel and most recently Lockwoods in Ripon, the Good Food Guide’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year. Oh and another significant change is that the Boro have now stopped losing. Fingers firmly crossed, do not jinx the vital game away at Crystal Palace, please, please, please.

I am looking forward to returning again soon and sampling food from the menus of the new chef. The standards were already so high and it was such an enjoyable night out last time that I can’t wait to taste the difference.

fork-1Thanks to Louise Wilkin for food photos

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A Weekend in Middlesbrough at Christmas

Geoff Vickers visited Middlesbrough just before Christmas and sent us this blog about the happy experience. Formerly Secretary of Middlesbrough Supporters South and working in financial services in the City, Geoff is a Boro season ticket holder travelling up for matches from the Home Counties. In December he decided to make a weekend of the trip to see Boro v Swansea with his partner Liz in December.

It is a rare chance to spend some time back in Middlesbrough. I have spent most of my Boro supporting life travelling from my home just North of London – almost always driving or taking the train up and back in one day.

orange pip aug 1A month or so ago I read an intriguing blog from a group of Bournemouth supporters who had spent an overnight stay on Teesside back in October before and after our game with them and indeed their glowing report on the town centre especially around Baker and Bedford Streets in the town centre.  I also read that Baker Street had been named as a “Rising Star” in The Great British High Street competition.

So it was the Swansea game just before Xmas that provided us with the perfect opportunity to spend a couple of days sampling for ourselves what the Cherries’ supporters had so enjoyed and have a night on the town in Middlesbrough. It turned out to be a very good weekend.

We booked into a town centre hotel – the Express at Holiday Inn opposite the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), which, as it turned out, was perfectly located for a weekend stay. The room overlooked a fine seasonal display of lights sparkling from the trees in front of MIMA. Perfect to place us in the Christmas mood.

We had lunch on the Friday at another establishment that has been enjoying media accolades. Chadwicks Inn in Maltby owned by Gary Gill, his wife Helen, manager Lee Tolley and head chef Jon Appleby. A super relaxing way to kick off the weekend and shake off the 220 mile drive North.

I am told properties in Baker and Bedford Street were taken over by the Local Authority over the last two years and have undertaken a funding programme of regeneration and refurbishment. The area has been completely rejuvenated and what a job they have done. Baker Street was first to receive its make-over in 2014 and neighbouring Bedford Street followed over the following months.

Rob (Nichols) offered to host us on the Friday night and an initial walk down the two streets was a real eye opener. There is a continental European feel about the area with an array of independent shops, bars and restaurants with every establishment  seemingly full with season revellers.  We met in Sherlocks on Baker Street,  a small intimate bar with couches and a small corner bar with an array of beers I hadn’t really seen in a pub in Middlesbrough outside of the Wetherspoons in town.  There was a good buzzing atmosphere coupled with some new beers locally brewed.  Immediately along the road is The Twisted Lip and across the road The Slaters Pick –more fantastic editions to the small beer pub scene. To give the street a Bohemian feel both sides are full of independent shops that are so crucial in retaining character to the locality, including  a vintage clothes shop,  a deli and a furniture retailer amongst them.

And so to the next street along and Bedford Street which has become a go to place to both eat and drink with an array of recommended eateries and the Chairman pub the latest beer pub introduction. And the town centre rejuvenation doesn’t stop at those two streets.  Dimi Konstantopoulos has just opened his modern greek eaterie “Great” on Linthorpe Road and Al Forno  and Oven around the corner are, amongst many other strong offerings. According to TripAdvisor Middlesbrough has 80 places to eat with 4 or more review stars.

Match day morning we enjoyed a really good breakfast over at MIMAs new bistro the Smeltery and sister restaurant to the Waiting Room in Eaglescliffe.  The weekend was rounded off by a fine 3-0 win against the Swans.

I wanted to recount our experience, as Middlesbrough is no doubt becoming a serious weekend break destination that will only serve the town and local economy well. It is fantastic to see. I will come again before the season’s end and hope to try new places  Final mention of the hotel which is a fine ambassador for the town. The friendly welcome on reception and the hotel comfort was just top class. And as somebody who works in London fantastic value for money.

The Love Middlesbrough campaign is definitely working for me.

Blog originally printed in Fly Me To The Moon fanzine Issue 572 Boro v Leicester City 2/1/2017

Geoff Vickers

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Dimi’s Goal is Great Greek Food

Boro keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos has opened a Greek restaurant in Middlesbrough. GREAT, serves modern Greek food in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Sited on the Clifton Street corner of Linthorpe Road it is right, bang in the heart of the restaurant and night life sector of Middlesbrough’s main drag.

Nestled beneath student halls and just over the road from the big Weatherspoons pub, Swatters Carr, Dimi Konstantopoulos could not have picked on a better location for his new restaurant, opened with childhood pal and business partner, Nikos Pitsoulis. Nikos has relocated from Greece along with the head chef. But 10 new posts have been filled locally.

But if you are thinking that this is a sign that Dimi is slowing down and looking towards retirement then think again as he reveals to us in his interview, hanging up his goalkeeper’s gloves is the furthest thing from his thoughts. Dimi arrived here as third choice keeper and now four seasons later he is waiting his turn again from the same position. Give him a chance and he fully intends to pounce on it.

Last week I joined media people and had a chance to sample a little food. Apparently you are pick and choose main courses now that the restaurant has opened. The menu opens with a choice of Greek starters from Tzatziki to Htipiti – that is fest cheese spread with chilli peppers. All £3.95.

Main dishes start with Pork Yeeros £11.90 to Whole Roast Chicken £10.90 and special club sandwich £12.95. There are three Greek salad options and then a selection of wraps and burgers, including Sovaki skewers. Oh and don’t worry there are chips and side dishes. And desserts for a fiver. Plenty of options to try.

Greak Food

Anyway, I plonked myself down at a table with Dimi and fired some questions in his direction about the restaurant, Boro and himself.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your restaurant. A lot of us will have travelled to Greece and the Greek islands and sampled the food but could you tell us a little about the food in Great please?

Dimi: This is traditional cooking that you find everywhere in Greece. It can be a take away or you eat a sit down meal, there are places like that everywhere in Greece. It includes a lot of variety of different meat cooked in different styles and salads. I think it fits very well to the British mentality because in my experience they like that sort of thing.

Q: Looking out of the window here on Linthorpe Road we can see many different types of restaurants and they all do well but no Greek food.

D: Yes that was the idea I think there is a gap in the market. We looked around the area and there was nothing similar so we thought it was a good idea because as you say there are a lot of different styles of restaurant around here but it is good to offer the people of Middlesbrough the option.

Q: I have heard that you enjoy eating out in local restaurants when you can.

D: Yes, I love food, obviously I can’t have exactly what I want because of my job but I do like to try different things and I go many places not only in Middlesbrough but around the area. Yes, I think a lot of people like to try new things and this is a good option for them to have.

Q: I live not far from here Dimi and I saw the signs going up in the windows a long time ago so I know that you have spent some time doing this. You are obviously trying to do it properly.

D: Yes we said from day one that we have to do it properly. If we do something like this then it needs to be 100% quality-wise. Everything should be spot on. This is something we have been planning for the future as well. We want people to come here and enjoy the food and everything to be clean and very efficient from the service and so they leave this place happy.

Q: You have a business partner from Greece and a chef from Greece but you have employed some local people as well.

D: Yes it is partly something for me to give back to this area that has given me so much. To invest here. Since we started having this idea straight away I said the best place to start is here in the north east and in Middlesbrough. Yes, there is no better place for me to start a venture like this.

Q: How many years is it now since you first came to the area and joined Hartlepool?

D: Yes, there was a spell of three years when I went to Greece, it has been altogether about ten years now. So, I have spent most of my professional career in the north east and it feels like home to me. My family is settled here and my wife is from Hartlepool and it is where I have my home.

Q: From my experience of going in restaurants in Greece it seems like a social thing as well as eating. Would that be fair to say?

D: Yes, it is like a ritual for them in Greece people like to spend a few hours eating and talking, nibbling and having a chat and a laugh. It is not the same here because people sometimes go out and eat and they go straight away. But we are flexible. If people want to spend their time here and enjoy a few drinks. Because we have the option of a little variety, you don’t have to stick to the same main course you can try different things and pick. So, maybe people will take some time.

Q: I notice you have the four tv screens. Like a sports bar.

D: Yes we want it to be a bit contemporary and simple really.

Q: You are certainly not stepping into a taverna here are you?

D: No we didn’t want to go down that road because the kind of food we are offering is not taverna food it is more traditional Greek food. We have done this design where the designer did the whole project. The tellys are part of this, they will be showing videos and music. Something for people to look at. There will be music as well. We are trying to make it as enjoyable as possible for people to have food here.

Q: You are beneath a student hall here aren’t you?

D: Yes, student accommodation, so I think it is a good spot to open a restaurant. There are a lot of students upstairs so we hope they will come and try some food. We will see what happens.

Q: Can I please ask you a few questions about football. You joined Middlesbrough three or four years ago now?

D: Four seasons ago.

Q: I don’t suppose you dreamt back then what would happen over the next couple of seasons. You were third choice weren’t you?

D: No, it has been a tremendous journey for me. I have enjoyed every step of it. I came to the team on a short term contract but I always believed in myself, I always thought I need a chance and if I get a chance I will prove myself. That is what has happened in the past and I was lucky to be given a chance and then from then on it started going upwards.

Nothing has changed for me; it is the same story now. I have done it before whenever I am given the chance and I will do it again.

Q: People might not realise that prior to joining Boro you had been playing at AEK Athens, so playing in the top league in Greece.

D: Yes and Europa League as well, European football. I have some good experiences on my CV. I have played for many big clubs and I am proud of it.

Q: You must also be very proud of your record at Boro, especially last season with so many clean sheets.

D: Yes it is something I take great pride in. I was lucky to be amongst a set of lads who were really working hard, really working together. They were a good team and still are. To have this record and to be in the record books of the club is something special.

Q: And of course to experience the drama of clinching promotion in the last game against Brighton. Going down to the very last seconds. That must have been special.

D: Yes, it was a bit of a roller coasterm as a season and a game. But we came through it and we are here now and we are very grateful and we are enjoying our time in the Premier League and I think we have the potential to be in this league for many, many years.

Q: What about you for your future? You have said that you want to continue playing as long as you can?

D: Yes, I feel good, I feel fit, I feel sharp. I train every day and I train hard. I still have the urge to improve myself. So, it is not even in my mind yet about retiring. When I get to the stage that I wake up on a morning and I am not feeling as happy going to work and am not feeling that I want to try any more then I will retire. But for now I am feeling like I was feeling ten years ago. So as long as I feel like that I will continue.

Q: I was going to say, so you are still hungry to play football…

D: Yes, (laughs) that is a good one.

Q: Thanks very much I am looking forward to coming here and trying the food and celebrating a Boro win.

D: Yes, I will get the lads in soon to try it as well. I have already told them they are expected.

Photos by Tracy Hyman (below head chef, Dimi and Nikos)

Great is open 11am til late. You can find it on twitter @GreatGreekFood

Dimi, head Chef and Nikos

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Sunday at the Smeltery

There is a cool and arty place to eat your Sunday lunch in town now but most importantly of all the food is just the Sunday best.

smeltery-actionThe Smeltery is the name for the former mima café that has been given a major makeover as well as takeover from the nice people of the Waiting Room, Eaglescliffe.

From the outside the red neon glow of the Smeltery letters beckon you across the wide open spaces of Centre Square to the snug and cosy art gallery restaurant, where the furniture and furnishings have been designed in community workshops making thismeltery-soups truly a community café.

Unlike the Waiting Room the menu is not exclusively vegetarian so as well as the sumptuous sounding green options I could also tuck into a Sunday roast when I managed to get myself on the list of the first Sunday serving last weekend. The meat is organic and free range. Like the fish it is carefully sourced. My lamb was farmed in Upper Teesdale.

The service was very good. I was greeted at the entrance and was well looked after throughout as was everyone. The staff were friendly, courteous and very helpful.

The menu options all looked so good. I was facing away from most of the diners so wasn’t swayed by the sight and indeed smells of anyone else’s orders. I started with a beautiful roast squash, tomato and thyme soup with some tasty wholemeal bread. “Lashings” of Fentimans Lemonade was the perfect accompaniment.

smeltery1Next time I must try North Sea Fish pancake with thermidor sauce. It was a hard choice. The soup would set you back £4.50.

Then it was the lamb, pink, tender and so succulent. A crisp Yorkshire pud, potatoes and the vegetables. Well, there were plenty and they were cooked so the tastes oozed out into the thick gravy. No hint of over cooking. I think it was around £12 or so that was the kind of mark for main meals.

You can watch the hive of activity in front of you in the kitchen if you park yourself in that direction. Or else look out of the window over towards the town hall and dancing fountains.

What else could I have sampled? Top of the main meals list was Waiting Room field mushroom and smoked cheddar cashew plait with red wine sauce and horse radish creamed turnip. The boss Luke was particularly proud of his home made horse radish I was told.

smeltery-kitchen-againAfter allowing myself the luxury of a few minutes recuperation time I was prepared to tackle a pudding. Apple, plum and ginger poached pears crumble. Wow what isn’t to like about that? Especially, when I selected the ice cream. Wait for this. Honey and heather! Now, come on, how good can it get?

smeltery-kitchenThey are opening now for dinners on Thursdays as well as being open all daytimes, except Monday when mima is closed.

smeltery-lukeDon’t forget you are inside mima here so as a final treat why not walk off any feeling of excess by taking to the galleries of art. The current exhibitions include works by an artist collected by the late great David Bowie, namely, Winifred Nicholson. Liberation of Colour is an exhibition, of the great British colourist, that explores work from throughout Winifred’s long and distinguished artistic career.

So, there you are Sunday dinners and art. Oh and exercise for the body and mind. In Middlesbrough. There is a car park outside, free for 2 hours. But best of all as I said earlier the food is exceptional. Get out and explore this Sunday.

Ring 01642 245679 and look out for a Smeltery facebook page with menu that might just pop up this weekend.

 

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