Taking up residence on the well famed ‘Jesmond Strip’ on Osborne Road, newcomer 97 & Social takes over the old Bar Berlise spot and heads up an impressive line-up in the area from the Cairn Group.
After a whopping £500,000 investment, 97 & Social is an opulent affair. From the wood panelling and wing back chairs to the large booths ideal for accommodating groups or parties willing to share, the social element of the venture certainly has been catered for. For those fair weather days, the outside space has been retained and re-used to offer both outside drinking and dining. The Bar Berlise canopies have escaped the renovation and remain in place.
On a lazy summer Saturday afternoon, we visited the Jesmond eatery to sample their wares. With refreshing cocktails in hand, ensconced in our booth, we set about deciding what to eat! With the menu split in to sharing platters and small plates, most appetites are catered for. Under the careful guidance of our server, we opted for a couple of small dishes to mix and match and share between us – this would prove to be a problem when it comes to one particular dish as you are about to find out!
Between us we split the Soft Taco (£4.90), Beef Burger (£5.50), Twice Fried Chips (£2.90) and Calamari Chips (£5.50). The menu has subsequently changed since our visit and the burger is now served with chips.
Served on a large and crisp wrap with fresh zingy pickles and salad, the beef taco was an absolute delight. Whilst not being overly appetising to the eye, the blackened crisp beef had a deep smoky flavour which was offset perfectly by the light honey goats cheese mousse. Volunteering to share this was a big mistake and I have had many cravings to high tail it back to 97 & Social just for this taco! A generous serving but can be complimented by another small plate for a more filling meal.
The bite size burger slider was juicy and charred. The richness of the Applewood smoked cheese was a good counter balance to the sweet brioche bun. A true 2 bite burger, it is great to see that it now comes served with chips (£8.50) as we ordered separately. The twice cooked chips were served with a coarse grain and mustard mayo which was a nice unusual addition to dip in to however the chips were very far from twice cooked and looked rather anaemic.
The calamari chips were a great little moreish snack to nibble on . The roasted garlic mayonnaise packed a punch against the lightly battered strips of squid. The garlic salt was a nice little touch for that added punch of garlic. These are certainly a better alternative to peanuts as a bar snack – perfect for sharing over a few drinks in the sun.
With another couple of cocktails under our belt, Elderflower Spritz (£5.40) and Afternoon Delight (£5.95), we called it a day and started on the 10 minute walk back to West Jesmond Metro, both full up and impressed with our first visit to 97 & Social.