New restaurant River Beat is causing quite a stir by putting an Asian spin on tapas. Savour chats to owner and head chef, Andy Drape, about his new venture
Laid-back vibes and tapas with an Asian twist – that pretty much sums up Andy Drape’s new venture. The chef-cum-business owner opened the doors to River Beat, on Gateshead quayside, eight months ago in the former River Police Station.
While the building, which dates back to 1845, is full of character – and an outside area comes with stunning views of the Tyne – it’s Andy’s menu that has set tongues wagging.
Having visited far-flung corners of the globe, such as Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong – and been head chef at Newcastle eateries Sohe, Barn Asia and Blackfriars – Andy comes with a wealth of experience.
“It’s a place where people can come and relax, chill out and have a laugh,” said Andy, who’s invested more than £50,000 into transforming the venue.
“I thought the area was missing a good independent tapas restaurant. We cook everything from scratch. Nothing comes out of a jar. Even the curry pastes are made by us so they’re fresh.
“I love working with fragrant spices and infusing flavours together,” said Andy.
Tapas such as pink salt and pepper squid; tempura king prawns and cauliflower and dill curried fritters are available for three dishes for £14.50 – but it’s Andy’s gourmet tapas dishes that are going down a storm.
They may be a little pricier, but his customers can’t get enough of his pan-fried scallops and twice cooked belly pork with peanut caramel sauce (£9.50) and his 24-day salted pink beef sang choi bao with crispy leaves (£7.90).
“We spend quite a bit on getting the right ingredients to make sure our dishes are bursting with flavour,” said Andy, who also has a selection of curries on the menu.
Inside, the restaurant has a “soft industrial look” and art from Andy’s own home adorns the walls.
“I love Obey graffiti prints and a lot of what was hanging on my walls at home is now here in the restaurant – which is, in effect, a home from home. A place to unwind and enjoy good food,” said Andy.
River Beat is open 4-11pm from Tuesday to Thursday and noon till 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Last orders for food is 8.45pm. The venue is also available for functions and there’s a back room where meetings can be held.
Savour editor Georga Spottiswood puts Andy’s dishes to the test.
Pan-fried salmon with sesame seed crust, £6.50
This is no ordinary salmon. Sure, the sesame seed crust adds a delicious, crunchy texture to the fish but it’s the yuzu (a citrus fruit from Japan) and pineapple sauce that leaves a tangy taste on the tastebuds.
Quick seared duck breast pancakes, £6.90
Overcooked duck is flavourless, chewy and dry – this is anything but. The seared duck is pink and tender and falls apart in my mouth. Plus, Andy’s shallot and lemongrass sauce makes me realise that hoisin is so last year when it comes to a duck accompaniment.
Far Eastern Curry: North Thai Chiang Mai – 24-day salted beef with green coconut chutney, £14.50
Wow. Just wow. I’ve tried some curries in my time, with Jungle curry being a firm favourite, but when it comes to flavour, this dish should be crowned king. It’s a palate pleaser that’s packed with spice, and one for lovers of heat, too.
Call 0191 477 0553 or visit www.riverbeat.co.uk