With a new baby, dining out is not as easy as it used to be (we have lots of eager family members wishing to babysit, but the separation anxiety is real!) But when Carter & Fitch got in touch about visiting their new restaurant which was just a stone’s throw from my parents’ home, we decided to brave it for a much-needed date night!
Carter & Fitch is a smokehouse, pizzeria and bar that’s attached to the George Washington Hotel in Usworth, Washington. Hotel restaurants are not somewhere I’d usually pick for an evening meal, but with places like Marco Pierre White (Hotel Indigo) and Hawthorns (Crowne Plaza) in Newcastle, they’re starting to become dining destinations in their own right. The interior of Carter & Fitch is beautifully decorated with muted colours and lots of natural wood and brick. The all-glass front lets in a lot of light and as when we arrived the atmosphere was a combination of classy and chilled – perfect for a date night.
They have an impressive drinks menu of cocktails, spirits, wines and champagnes, but we opted for their two mocktails: Carter’s Passion (citrus lime juice combined with passion fruit and sugar syrups and topped with lemonade) and a Tornado Twist (pineapple, cranberry and apple juices, citrus lime and lemonade). The drinks were served in these pretty cut glass glasses which I wanted to take home with me! We also got given a jug of water for the table (I appreciate when a restaurant does this, and the staff were the ones who suggested it first which was a bonus).
Before we forget, we need to give a shoutout to our waiter Nick. The friendly service he gave us was fantastic, and we left at the end of the evening thinking of him more of our mate than our waiter. A huge thumbs up from us – he was brilliant.
Looking over the food menu, we found it hard to choose between pizzas, sharing platters, salad bowls and delicious meat feasts. We decided to order a selection of appetisers to start (braised Latin American meatballs glazed with cheese, Calamari Fritto Saffron Alioli and San Marzano and Mozzarella Poutine). Out of all of them, we highly recommend the calamari which was delicious soft in a crispy batter, and the salad it came with was fresh with a zingy vinaigrette. The poutine was good to start but quickly became soggy in the tomato sauce, and the meatballs were decent but lacking in a really strong taste, although we’d have them again!
There was lots of choice with the appetisers and they were all well-priced, so if you weren’t overly hungry, I’d recommend ordering between four and five of these to share with friends over drinks.
Moving on to our mains. I ordered the four-portion Buttermilk Southern Fried Smoked Chicken Pieces which came with two sides (I chose the sweet potato wedges and battered onion leaves). MrJ ordered an 8oz sirloin steak with Carter & Fitch‘s signature San Francisco sauce of garlic king prawns, tomatoes, mushrooms and basil. I was confused to why a sauce would contain king prawns, but this wasn’t just any sauce!
For the price and considering that you could have a six-portion buttermilk chicken dish, I presumed the chicken pieces would be quite small, how wrong I was. Two pieces in and I was struggling to eat anymore. I asked Nick if anyone really ordered the six-portion dish and was able to finish it, and he said that even his mates with massive appetites couldn’t finish it, so I didn’t feel too bad that I had to have my remaining chicken pieces boxed up to go (a nice touch!).
The battered onion leaves were just onion rings in different shapes, and were deliciously light and crispy, exactly what you’re after. The sweet potato wedges were well cooked (not mushy or soggy at all, which can sometimes happen). Overall, I really enjoyed my dish, although I think next time I would get a side of house slaw or something instead of having two battered items.
MrJ loved his steak, but he LOVED the sauce. That’s because it was packed full of juicy king prawns and he felt like it just added another element to his meal which he wasn’t expecting. The mushrooms were buttery and delicious, and the chips hit the spot.
MrJ was raring to go for dessert, but at this point I was fit to burst. So I ordered a hot chocolate, while MrJ tucked into a Toffee Apple Slump with Custard (an American style apple crumble). He declared it so delicious that I had to have ‘just one bite’. I did, and it was fab! If you visit, be sure to order it!
Actually, Carter & Fitch‘s dessert menu was really varied and not full of the usual ‘chocolate fudge cake’ or ‘trio of ice creams’ that makes restaurants’ dessert menus so boring and predictable (their ice creams are actually made by local Beckleberry’s so you know they’ll be excellent). Instead, the menu included Mocha Ice Box Cake, an Old English Treacle Tart and a Chocolate Amaretti Truffle Torte, as well as a monthly ice cream sundae.
At the end of the meal, we didn’t feel rushed to vacate our table and enjoyed just chatting before heading back to my parents’ to pick up our baby. She hadn’t missed us one bit and had been asleep the entire time! It definitely made me feel less guilty about leaving her. Roll on to dinner dates in the future!