In 1996, Alan McKenna (and his brother) took over the cafébar in the old Newcastle Playhouse. Although the building has changed and his brother has bowed out, Alan is still here running the restaurant, occasionally donning his whites and cheffing up some tasty treats.
Breakfast can be picked up between 10am and 12noon if you fancy a bacon sandwich or a full vegetarian breakfast. McKenna’s wide range of coffee and teas are all fair trade. During the day the foyer area serves wholesome lunchtime sandwiches, with Cajun Chicken with Mozarella and Chilli, and Lemon Roasted Sicilian Vegetables and Rocket proving most popular amongst the Northern Stage staff. There’s also a huge tapas menu (which also caters brilliantly for vegetarians) with everything from calamari, patatas bravas and chorizo, to potato skins, hummus and stuffed roasted aubergines.
From 5.30pm the upstairs restaurant deck is opened to the public and the Bistro Menu becomes available. Revised weekly, the food has won the Bistro critical acclaim from various publications. Starters vary from homemade soups to Grilled Black Pudding. For mains you can find anything from Pan Fried Sea Bass and Wilted Greens, to Vegetable Thai Green Curry to Chargrilled Ribeye Steak. Deserts have included Crème Brulee, Lemon Meringue Pie and Apple and Pear Crumble with Custard.
The Northern Stage drinking establishment has always been famed for its friendly atmosphere. Many regulars of Newcastle Playhouse have returned to the improved bar to find that they can still talk to actors after a show and carry on drinking into the small hours. McKenna’s provides a selection of draught and bottled lagers and bitters, as well as a host of spirits and wines.
“There is a real joy in coming to Northern Stage for dinner... There's something of an air of anticipation around the place, and being part of something.” **** Metro Newspaper