He’s the perfect catch for Newcastle Quayside’s trendy new bar and restaurant. Savour chats to Steve Jobson, head chef at The Jolly Fisherman on the Quay. Photography: Marie Harkness
Fish and chips with beef dripping and a signature fish pie – Steve Jobson hopes to be reeling in the customers at The Jolly Fisherman on the Quay.
He’s taken the reins in the kitchen and since joining in January as head chef, he’s revamped the menu to offer “good, honest food”.
“We’re not stiff and starchy. It’s a relaxed setting with honest food and cracking views,” says Steve.
“The restaurant opened last year and it didn’t get off to a great start. People know that, but I’m here to steady the ship. It’s not going to happen overnight but we’ve got a good brigade,” says Steve, who has worked in a string of places across the region, including under renowned North East chef Terry Laybourne.
“I remember he told me once, ‘you’re only as good as your team’. He’s right – and we now have the right team in place at The Jolly,” says Steve, who started off his career as a commis chef at the former Fisherman’s Lodge restaurant, in Jesmond Dene, where Laybourne was head chef.
Now he and his brigade are cooking up a storm with North Shields-landed haddock and chips; shepherd’s pie with confit of lamb shoulder; braised pig’s cheek; and black pudding, sun-dried tomato and smoked salmon bread baked fresh each morning.
“We’re not fine dining. We offer top-end comfort food with serious flavour. We tried out the pig’s cheeks during NE1 Restaurant Week in January and it went down a storm, so it stayed,” says Steve, who’s worked all over the world, including Hotel de Paris, Pacific and Fat Buddha, all in Monaco.
After working his way up to head chef at the Fisherman’s Lodge, Steve left to work for bar tycoon and millionaire, Joe Robertson – famed for giving Newcastle its party scene image.
“He loved food, so I was fortunate enough to do stage in Monaco. I was at Hotel de Paris, which has three-Michelin stars. It’s out of this world. I didn’t have a work permit though, so I was there to observe.
One night I snuck down into the kitchen in the cellar and I got caught by the chef. He summoned me and took me to the private dining room that’s directly opposite the pass. People pay thousands to watch the theatre of the kitchen there. He sat me down, told me to observe and the chefs fed me titbits all night. It was incredible.”
Steve, who was head chef at former Louis restaurant, in Jesmond; Harry’s Bar, Newcastle and worked as a senior chef at the London Olympics, overseeing 20,000 meals a day during an eight-week stint, hopes to bring his wealth of knowledge to the table at The Jolly.
“I’ve learnt old-school techniques. Good food that tastes unbelievable, that’s what we’re about here,” says Steve.
The Jolly on the Quay is the sister restaurant of The Jolly Fisherman, in Craster – both owned by businessman David Whitehead, who’s also got The Plough, in Alnwick.
“The Jolly in Craster is famed for its seafood, so we’ve taken some of the signature dishes and brought them here,” says Steve.
Expect tasty Craster kipper Scotch eggs, The Jolly Fisherman’s fish pie and crab sarnies. “We’re ready to take this ship to a new level,” says Steve.
Check out the menu at jollyonthequay.co.uk