The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s adventures in Middlesbrough!

If there’s one thing the Love Middlesbrough Lasses love (other than food), it’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar! (We’ve been really subtle about it, haven’t we?)  So when we were asked by Middlesbrough Theatre to make a video promoting the Very Hungry Caterpillar’s theatre show, we were absolutely on board!

The brief was to film the Very Hungry Caterpillar in different famous places in Middlesbrough and make a video of it, so off we went (with not one but two caterpillars!) on a trip around the town.  The video will be appearing on your screens very soon, but we thought you’d love to see some of our behind the scenes pics.

We started off at the Transporter Bridge, because there’s nowhere more iconic!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge

Meanwhile, the baby Caterpillar who’s scared of heights visited Transporter Park, and then they met the dinosaurs at Teesaurus Park.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Transporter Park The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Teesaurus Park

There was a lot of climbing around, especially on the Bottle of Notes…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Bottle of Notes

The Very Hungry Caterpillar(s) enjoying the Bottle of Notes

We also stopped for a snack break in Stewart Park, for very good ice cream!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying ice cream

It’s a hard life going on adventures, so we had to give the Caterpillar lots of time to rest.  You know what they say – never work with animals!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying the Tees Transporter Bridge The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Stewart Park

As well as getting to explore loads of fantastic places like the top of the Transporter Bridge, the Dorman Museum, and getting fed ice cream, the Caterpillar also got into some trouble, like getting stuck down a chair at Middlesbrough Theatre…

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Middlesbrough Theatre

…and climbing into the Albert Park cannon!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Albert Park

And of course, because it wouldn’t be Love Middlesbrough without cake, we took our two hungry caterpillars (and hungry Lasses) for some amazing cakes made by the fabulous Songbird Bakery!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar enjoying Songbird Bakery cakes

And the Caterpillar(s) didn’t get around by themselves – there was also heaps of work done by the Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and honorary Love Middlesbrough Lass, Matt!)

Love Middlesbrough Lasses (and Lad) Love Middlesbrough Lass (and Lad) 

In case you missed it the first time we put the link in, you can book your tickets for the Very Hungry Caterpillar show via Middlesbrough Theatre.



Middlesbrough’s Restaurant Week is set to return by popular demand for its third year – with a host of fab foodie offers.

The annual event also boasts the inclusion of some of the town’s exciting new eateries among the 17 restaurants, cafes and bars taking part.

Many also have exclusive offers available for the week, which runs from Monday, May 2 to Sunday, May 8.

The feast of culinary delights has proved a huge hit with diners, who can take their pick of the town’s cosmopolitan cuisine ranging from Indian to Portuguese and noodles to the beloved parmo.

Some of the restaurants are brand new, Bedford Street premises opened only this month and Frango’s just this week. Others are long established favourites on the Middlesbrough scene.

al forno parmoAnd it’s given a real boost to the town’s restaurant trade, with those taking part last year reporting takings up between 10% and 35% compared with the same period in 2014.

Rachel Whitehead, of Pixies Diner on Linthorpe Road, said: “Restaurant Week has worked really well for us. It has given our customers a chance, twice, to try out our new menu, at a reduced cost, which has brought in extra revenue.”

Joanne De Melo, of new Linthorpe Road eaterie Frango’s, said: “It’s a great way for new customers to try all the different array and cuisines that Middlesbrough has to offer.”

Liam Percy, of Al Forno on Southfield Road, said: “An enjoyable event for customers and staff that promotes the towns’ varied restaurants and improves overall awareness of what is available in Middlesbrough town centre.”

oodles mealAnd George Ooi, of Oodles Noodles on Linthorpe Road, said: “Middlesbrough Restaurant Week is about the town celebrating the range and diversity of food offerings we have available for everyone to sample and enjoy.”

The full list of the 17 destinations taking part is:

  • Al Forno

  • Frango’s

  • Oodles Noodles

  • The Oven

  • Pixies Diner

  • Purple Pig

  • De Melo

  • The Nuthatch

  • The Curing House

  • Bedford Street Coffee House

  • Waterside Brasserie (at Middlesbrough College)

  • Holiday Inn Express

  • Eliano’s Brasserie

  • La Pharmacie

  • Kebabish Bar and Grill

  • Khushi Indian Buffet

  • Nando’s

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “Middlesbrough’s reputation as the area’s focal point for culture and leisure continues to grow, and eating out is a key part of that offer.

We’ve got a thriving multi-cultural restaurant scene, and the week is an open invitation to residents and visitors to enjoy fantastic food combined with some great offers.”

Nandos interiorOffers including exclusive set menus, buy one get one free on dishes and free tables are amongst a variety on offer next week. To keep up to date and to download the special offers visit

restaurant week


Make a Restaurant Week Date at Nando’s

Middlesbrough Restaurant Week is only one week away and one venue that will top many people’s list will surely be Nando’s. As you will read there will be a very happy surprise in store for some of the diners at the ever popular Middlesbrough Leisure Park peri peri chicken emporium.

I met up with manager, Marcus, one lunchtime last week. The place was absolutely packed. Looking around me there were tables of families, students, all ages in fact. Everyone was tucking into their food and soft drinks and really enjoying themselves. It is certainly a very upbeat eaterie.

nandos signQ: What will your Restaurant week Offer be please?

Marcus: What we are going to do is at random 2 tables during the day and 2 at night will be completely free for the entire week. We have done that in previous restaurant weeks and in terms of comparing it with an offer across the board I think it is quite nice to surprise people. It is maybe rewarding the people who do eat out in Middlesbrough quite a lot as opposed to enticing people to come and eat out that week. So it is a nice treat for those who aren’t really expecting it.

Nandos 2Q: We are here on a lunch time. It is a nice sunny day outside but it is really busy. Is Nando’s always like this?

M: Yes we do quite well. That’s why we have got the ammunition and the reason to build the new Nando’s that is going to be opening on Teesside Park at the end of the year. The people of Middlesbrough like chicken. Unfortunately we don’t serve parmos, then it might even be more full.

Q: If that was possible. At the start of Restaurant Week we will have the Tour de Yorkshire and at the end of it hopefully Boro will get promoted. It is going to be a really buzzing week, isn’t it?

M: Yes. We do do quite well when the matches are on. Obviously we have got a lot of people going past the restaurant. We are going to be doing some promotion that week as well where we are offering free half chicken burger, pitta or wraps to the passing trade going to the match. It is like a bounce back to take away over the summer. So when the Euros are on for instance people are going to be able to redeem these vouchers for a free take away.

nandos 1Q: It is going to be a big summer with the Euros in June.

I think last summer when Restaurant Week was on you were getting a big refurb. at the time. I must confess I haven’t been in since and I can see you have completely transformed the space.

M: Yes, I am glad you think so. We obviously were really impressed. If you go to any other Nando’s that are quite new, genuinely they are quite breath taking. We have gone from a quite simplistic, stripped back design to one that is a lot more funky and a bit more going on. So, yes we are really proud of it. I think we were one of the most successful re-opens after a refurb that the company has ever had in that we went from our average week to almost doubling it when we first reopened. Obviously it helps being the only Nando’s in Middlesbrough. So say if we one of the Newcastle Nando’s closes for a refurb there are a few others you can go to. We got the feeling that the people of got the feeling that the people of Middlesbrough missed us a bit.

Q: People know the name and look out for Nando’s.

M: Yes. There are quite a few places to go now. It is not like 12 years ago when we first opened when we were the only place doing Peri Peri. Now there are a few more options, especially along Linthorpe Road. But I think people do see us as the original. People have maybe built up a relationship with the restaurant. They enjoy the experience.

Q: I can see this is very much a family friendly place to eat and there is a real atmosphere as well and on a lunchtime as well, that isn’t always the case at lunch time.

M: Yes, exactly. I think we can be more attractive to younger people but we definitely try to cater for everyone. I think the menu says that. We have got a lot of family friendly items on the menu, like smaller meals for the under 5s or 6s. Or platters to share for big families. That’s definitely part of the Nando’s vibe to be family friendly.

nandos mealQ: You spoke about chicken but what would you say were the more popular items that people come in to order?

M: We have got quicker bites where people grab them on maybe a lunch time. For example you have a chicken breast fillet that could be in a burger, a pitta or a wrap. But then we have also got, maybe on a weekend and especially on a Sunday, our whole chicken platters are quite popular. But then we quite popular with people that are a bit more health conscious or maybe looking for protein, with being around the corner from the gym. Those people might like butterfly chicken, two chicken breasts together. I don’t think there is a most popular item. It is depending on the time of the day or time of the week.

nandos saucesQ: You have the big car park, the cinema, the gym, the football ground and the town centre. You have a lot of things going for you here, don’t you?

M: I think a few of the staff joke about the Middlesbrough date where you go to the cinema and then for a Nando’s. Its like the two go hand in hand. We do see a lot of young people especially doing the Middlesbrough date. It’s the two things.

Q:Hopefully the sun is shining like today for Restaurant Week when somebody is going to get a great surprise, aren’t they?

Nandos interiorM: Yes, definitely. We would encourage people to share it as well because we want people to know that this is what we are doing. So, as I said, it is not necessarily about enticing more people to come to Nando’s, it is more about rewarding the people that have been going and ensuring still do come.

Will you make a Restaurant Week date at Nando’s?

Photos Tracy Hyman


Middlesbrough Leisure Park,restaurant week
North Ormesby Road,

01642 250 007

Middlesbrough Restaurant Week – Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th May 2016


Call Me Al Forno

Al Forno is a peaceful haven from the hubbub outside. With the soothing aromas of foods and coffees wafting through the elegant interior you really could be lost in Europe and not just off Linthorpe Road.

Situated on the now pedestrianised Southfield Road we are close to the new square that is a hub of the University campus. It is a modern, go ahead part of town but also a peaceful place to relax and take in some delightful food.

I chat with the manager and as we sip cups of tea he tells me about how much he is looking forward to the third Middlesbrough Restaurant Week.


al forno interior


Q: Can I start by asking you your name.

Al: Everyone knows me as Al, Al from Albania.

al forno alQ: How long have you been at Al Forno, Al?

I have been working for Al Forno’s 3 years now, before that I have been working in different restaurants in Teesside and north west of England, also I was seven years in Greece.

Q: So you have been in restaurants for a long time?

Al: That is what I know. It has been a long time.

Q: Do you enjoy it on Teesside?

Al: Yes indeed. I have been since 2001 in England but about 12 years of that has been in Middlesbrough. I am married to a local girl. I have three kids. So I can’t complain, it is good.

Q: There have been so many changes in this part of town, even over the past year.

Al: Indeed it has changed a lot. Teesside University. We have got a couple of new restaurants and another one opposite at us. It looks great, actually. You get customers on that and how good it is. I think it is a prime location.

Q: The whole nature of this (Southfield) road and this area has totally transformed.

Al: Yes, transformed. Because of this University area further down the road it is great to walk on an evening.

Q: It must be nice to sit outside here without the traffic.

Al: Absolutely. It is nice and quiet actually. When we get the great days, the sunny days, it is fantastic. It is full out there, you have to get indoor tables and put them outside so people can sit out there. It is nice and quiet, no dust, no pollution.

Q: The amount of restaurants and good restaurants now in the town must show that people have a real appetite now for eating out in Middlesbrough.

Al: Absolutely. I would say the last 7 months its great we get new business in, we get new customers coming in to town now because of all these new restaurants and cafes. So we get new people in. Al Forno has been open for ten years now, so imagine this after ten years we get first time customers. That is because it is more in town, there is more here for people to come for. The location here is away from the town centre so you have to come specifically to visit us rather than you are walking and just find us. So, I think it is a good move. Middlesbrough has moved forwards by far.

Q: You are close to the heart of the campus now.

Al: We have been here ten years but I think the changes have benefited us a lot. We do a lot of business with the lecturers from the University. With the students yes also but it is not a major thing for us but we do quite a lot of business with the lecturers.

Q: You do very well at lunch times. Presumably people eat differently then to evenings. What are the most popular dishes on a lunch time?

Al: Obviously at lunch time you can have something light and quick because you don’t have too much time. We have the offers. The Happy Hour opens at lunch time. You can have a soup and a platter at £5.95. You can have a quick pizza and we do variations of salad as well. Then we do the Express Lunch as well. They give us a call and order in advance. They come in, get a drink, we serve the food. 45 minutes they are done, happy and they have gone back to work

Q: What about on evenings?

Al: On evenings we do well. The Happy Hour is still available 7 days until 6.30pm. Then we have got the A La Carte menu. We introduce a lot of new dishes, we have got the steaks and the seafoods and so on. On our menu there is about 150 dishes. A bit of everything, we cater for everyone, vegetarian, celiac, gluten free.

al forno parmoQ: What are the most popular dishes on an evening?

Al: On an evening the most popular is the famous parmesan. So, without doubt, people don’t look at the menu, straight for the parmesan. One of the best you can have in Middlesbrough.

Q: There is a lot of competition around town.

Al: There is but honestly our parmesan is one of the best. The best one is fresh chicken breast. That is the main ingredient; it has to be fresh chicken. Also with the steaks we do a variation of the steaks, five different type of steaks on the menu. That is one of the good sellers. Also the seafood that is by far one of the best sellers. So, there is a market in Middlesbrough for seafood.

Q: Where do you source your ingredients?

Al: It is all done locally. We buy very local. QFS is just around the corner for vegetables. Everything is locally sourced. So we are helping the local businesses as well.

Q: Talking about local links. I often see your name up on the advertising at Middlesbrough Football Club.

Al: Yes. And we sponsor local athletes. Richard Kilty, the sprinter. He is a local lad when he asked us last year for sponsorship we straight away said yes. Also a young teenage pole vaulter, Charlie Myers. We have sponsored 9 to 12 year old kids playing football in Normanby, South Park Rangers, for 2 years as well. As well as Nunthorpe Squash Club. We are doing a little bit to help the locals.

al forno interior 2Q: Do you get a lot of returning customers?

Al: Yes indeed we do get a lot of regulars. Based on that we have a Privilege Card scheme. We like to make sure that we look after the customers so they can come back again and get something in return. With the cards they can get a free bottle of wine or free main course. It is very popular and people keep on asking. It is very easy, you can get a card online as well or submit the application online and we will post out to the customer.

Q: The décor and furnishings it makes for a pleasant atmosphere.

Al: Absolutely, as I mentioned the restaurant has been open for 10 years, this June it will be our tenth anniversary in Middlesbrough. And the décor has been made by a popular interior designer and it has been maintained for 10 years in the same way. You get the wow factor when new customers first come in. Wow, you don’t expect it. Yes indeed. It is very nice and relaxing. A very enjoyable evening you can have in Al Fornos.

Q: Do you do Sunday lunches?

Al: Yes we do. We do Sunday lunches, we do Sunday roast, the traditional beef, pork, chicken, lamb. It is a market we still need to push. And we do a Happy Hour on a Sunday as well.

Q: You have been involved in restaurant week each year now, have you found it successful?

Al: Yes indeed. First year it was great and second year again it was good and hopefully the third year will be even better. That is why we have changed the offer this year compared to the previous two years.

This year we will have two offers. We will have the daytime offer, Monday to Thursday between 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock. That will be choices of two pizzas from the Happy Hour, two desserts and two soft drinks for £14.95.

Then that will change from the 5 o’clock until close. It will change to a pizza from the A La Carte Menu and get a second one free.

That second offer should be very tempting because the pizzas could be £10 and you get the second one for free.

al forno pastaQ: Restaurant Week will correspond with a big time for Middlesbrough because of the Tour de Yorkshire.

Al: Yes the cycling.

Q: And also hopefully the football club is celebrating promotion at the end of the week.

Al: Oh that would be fantastic. I can’t wait. I have been a long time in Middlesbrough now and I remember when they were in the Premier League and it was fantastic. Home matches were amazing.

Q: Do you get people coming in here to eat on match days? I guess it was good in the Premier years.

Al: Yes. I remember I was working for different restaurants in the town and home games it was great. Sometimes footballers would go out to restaurants after evening games. It was buzzing, the town. It was great, a great feeling. I remember with Steve McClaren going to the final of the Europa Cup fantastic, it was great. But hopefully this year we will go up and the town will be buzzing again.

Q: That weekend with all the cyclists coming in for the Tour is going to be a big week for the town, isn’t it?

Al: Absolutely and it will probably put Middlesbrough on the map for the right reasons.

Photos – Tracy Hyman

Opening Timesrestaurant week

Monday – Thursday: 10:00-22:00

Friday-Saturday: 10:00-22:30

Sunday: 10:30-21:00


Tel: (01642) 242 191
Al-Forno Restaurant
2 Southfield Road,
Middlesbrough, TS1 3BZ

Middlesbrough Restaurant Week – Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th May 2016








Try the Restaurant at the Thistle

There is one restaurant situated in the heart of the town that might just be the best kept secret in Middlesbrough. The restaurant in The Thistle Hotel is very much open for your business and pleasure. Why not give it a try in Middlesbrough Restaurant Week – Monday 13th – Sunday 19th July 2015.

Over a pot of tea I chatted with amiable Operations Manager Nicolas Nasser and Vicki Jackson Sales Manager of the Thistle Hotel, Middlesbrough, to find more about what this hidden gem has to offer.

Q: I had not realised the restaurant in the Thistle was open to the general public.

NN: We have two barriers first with the restaurant being in a hotel and then also on the first floor because we have a very nice restaurant it is modern, furnished and we have bistro style cuisine. We start with a beautiful breakfast, continental with lovely items. Our restaurant is open in effect from 6.30am until late at night.

Q: So there is a flexibility that you might not get elsewhere.

NN: Absolutely. We have the flexibility and international cuisine, bistro style.

What we are aiming to do is to introduce our restaurant to the town, to our locals. We are open to the public. We are reasonably priced. We offer nice and fresh foods.

Q: Restaurant Week could be a good opportunity for people to come in and try the restaurant. Have you got a special offer for the week?

NN: The Restaurant Week offer is if you have a starter and a main course then the dessert is complimentary. Which I think is an attractive offer with all our local home made puddings we do.

Q: This week will let everyone in the town know about your restaurant.

NN: Yes letting everyone know and it is so handy with all these council offices around. We have some good offers on during the week if they want to come in and have a quick bite to eat it is ideal. It is just round the corner. So we are shouting about that to the locals, please come and use us.

Q: What about if you only have a limited time for lunch..

NN: Yes, absolutely, come in here. We have one of the fastest wifi’s in the area which is free and very handy as well because you can come in and carry on doing your work.

Our menu has got lots of choices. It is international. We get a lot of international guests in here and you can find something very simple or even a nice sirloin steak for instance, so it is a very diverse and well balanced menu.

Q: Are you passionate here about Middlesbrough?

NN: Absolutely. We attract some very high profile customers in this hotel; from the trainer that trains the team in underwater welding to somebody from a nuclear power station. We have a lot of high profile guests in our hotel. It is promoting what a nice hotel we are. We are the biggest hotel in Middlesbrough and quality and service is paramount to what we do and the majority of our guests are loyal and repeat guests. Because they know what to expect, we deliver service at every opportunity. We treat all our guests like anyone coming into our home in effect. This is the northern charm. We go into different properties and they ask us how we are doing so well in customer service. I say it is the people, it is the local people we employ, the friendliness of the Middlesbrough people we employ in this hotel that makes all the difference. We treat everyone like we would treat them in our home. This is our biggest asset here, the people we employ and they are local and we are very lucky. When they ask us the question I say it is all about the people that come and work for us.

VJ: I think as far as the restaurant is concerned there is always this perception that a restaurant in a hotel is there because it has to be, rather than being there because it does great food and great service. I think typically you have the perception in your mind that hotel food is not great. Which is unfortunate for us because actually the food in our hotel is brilliant. We have the same chef in place as we had when we had the AA rosette. The only reason we lost the rosette was because we changed menus into what was the company’s generic menu and the AA won’t allow rosettes for that. But it   is still the same chef and he does his own specials and runs with whatever he wants to do on a weekly basis as well as having the menu that we have in place.

Q: I know you have told me in the past just how high the hotel occupancy is during the week, that sometimes surprises people.

VJ: We are the only 4 star branded full service hotel in Middlesbrough at the end of the day. We have got the Holiday Express opening someday soon. But that is going to be a very different product, a budget hotel we are a 4 star branded hotel. So it does make a difference. Occupancies can be really busy during the week; weekends can be quite quiet, depending on what’s happening locally.

We do our research and track down events or we might find ourselves on the back of the Latin festival at Teesside Uni and getting 80 people from across the country, across the world staying with us for the weekend. So we do the research and hopefully can contact them and then win that kind of business. So we are still busy. It will be interesting to see what happens when the Holiday Inn opens.

NN: And as for Middlesbrough Football Club if we they do well then we hopefully get guests/supporters from different parts of the country coming to stay here.

VJ: Being in the Championship we benefit from teams staying here but in the Premier we are a bit too close to the stadium. Whilst in previous years we enjoyed Manchester United (which they lost and then won’t stay with you again), we have had Chelsea, we have had West Ham, Aston Villa and we have had the England Under 21s, but that is suddenly when our location is too close to the stadium as Premier teams want that country house feel. Which is a shame because up on the 9th floor we just have meeting rooms so they have loads of space if they want physio rooms, dining rooms, meeting rooms and we can keep them separate from the rest of the hotel. But you get more away visitors in the Premier League (but sadly that will be for the future).

A lot of the fans that come here, watch the match and go to Newcastle. A group of lads know it is cracking night out there and they have maybe had a bad image of Middlesbrough. But that perception is changing. We are now giving them a reason to stay. We have got this great hotel and we have got some great micro pubs in Baker Street and ones around there.

Q: The micro pubs etc are quite new, it is an exciting change for the town I think. We have recently played Brentford and the fans voted Middlesbrough as their best away destination even though they were beaten here twice. And they are a group for London.

VJ: They are amazing pubs, I love them.

With the Brighton match at the end of the season the football club were totally full on corporate hospitality. So we had approximately 150 Boro supporters come over and have breakfast with us and Bernie (Slaven) came across and spoke to them all. There were coaches put on that took them all to the stadium. But that weekend we had the Brighton team staying with us and we had a group of supporters staying here from Brighton who come from across the world and always agree to meet up wherever the last match of the season is. So we had this group of supporters and you can imagine their reaction when they checked in sand saw that their team was also staying here. It always makes people’s weekend so much better.

That weekend we also had the Former Boro Player’s Dinner on the Friday, so we were just buzzing all weekend.

Q: You have a big function capacity here don’t you to host events like the Boro Dinner?

VJ: Yes, just here in the Cleveland Suite we can hold up to 340 or 350 for an event such as that. We are really lucky; we have one of the biggest function spaces in the area. We have a nicer room than the football club I think because there are no pillars getting in the way. It is good for Christmas party. A good party room.

Q: The restaurant week will be in July in the middle of summer. When everyone is up beat and preparing for holidays etc. It should be a good week to coax people out  to experiment in our restaurants.

VJ: I think we will might  do some nice light specials, some nice salads and lighter options as well.

NN: The offer is if you have a starter and a main you get a dessert which I think is quite attractive. But we should have some light options if it is warm. A nice calorific dish on the menu. We will cater for all that.

Q: It would be nice if for that week people took the opportunity of going out more than usual or as you say from the offices instead of going home coming in one night and having a meal here?

NN: We will spread the word and spread the love.

The Restaurant at The Thistle

Fry Street, Middlesbrough TS1 1JH

Restaurant Enquiries/Reservations, please call:

0871 376 9028

Thistle Hotel website

Middlesbrough Restaurant Week – Monday 13th – Sunday 19th July 2015