Eating at the laundry

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A horse at the Herb Garden

The Herb Garden horse – complete with roller skates and leg warmers

With twenty six washing machine drums stacked in a pyramid and a wooden horse on roller skates dressed in leg warmers is it any wonder that The Herb Garden Pizza Kitchen in Newcastle is a bit of a tourist lure?

The horse stands at the entrance and, in the short time that I was there,  I was surprised at the number of passers-by who patted it or had their photographs taken with it. When the restaurant is closed, the horse is taken inside, not surprisingly because I would imagine that some souvenir hunter would like it as a keepsake.

Inside there are tables and a kitchen area, like any other restaurant. Head to the back of the place and turn right and there you see these 26 washing machine drums. Or are they spin dryers? Obviously they are neither.

The 26 were designed by the two chefs and business partners who own the place. But are they chefs? One wass an engineer but both became chefs on yachts and both found that getting fresh herbs and lettuces was a chore. So one day they thought they would start a restaurant and see if they could overcome the problem. Hence the washing machine-like drums. These drums are growing areas because the restaurant grows a lot of its own herbs and leaf vegetables. One day it hopes to produce all of its own but until then you see these tanks all growing greens at different stages of development. Some can be picked for today, some are a week away and others won’t be ready for a while.

spin dryer drums with herbs

one of the 26 drums with growing herbs

You will see different lights nurturing the growth and the spin dryers revolving slowly around so the light can reach all the parts. The experimenting goes on because some harsh lights will singe the plants making them useless.

A restaurant needs chef’s, waiters and other staff but the Herb Garden also has two gardeners. Yes, two gardeners are necessary to make sure the right amount of water, the right amount of light and the right amount of TLC is provided so that sufficient produce is available for the diners.

I should mention the food since that was the reason I went there but the manager, Josh, waxed so lyrically about the background that I almost forgot about the food. Which is a shame because it is rather good. All right, very good. It might be called a pizza restaurant but that’s a bit of a misnomer.

Jerry's Big Rib at The Herb Garden

Sailor Jerry’s Big Rib at The Herb Garden

Try the steak which is their biggest seller. There is a thing called Sailor Jerry’s Big Rib which is for two people. If you can eat it all then your table can have a free round of drinks. Of the 55,000 diners that the restaurant had last year, Josh had to provide just one free round!  My steak was one of the best I had tasted but Josh was so confident of his meals that he sent a pizza over. And his beetroot bread that he gets from a local baker. And antipasto. And other breads.

Is it any wonder that I skipped desert!


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