From gourmet to grotty: 5 gems from Newcastle’s scotch egg trail
Scotch eggs are a big passion of mine. They’ve been a regular part of my diet for almost my entire life (apart from a brief two year vegetarian hiatus at university*). My mum would pack them in my primary school lunches when they were bigger than my fists. As I entered my adventurous teen years I found new and exciting ways of consuming them – dipped in hummus, wrapped in Dairylea cheese, with falafel instead of egg etc etc.
Nowadays I know my way around the scotch egg scene, from cheap and nasty Asda creations through to elaborate gourmet concepts. This weekend I had the day to myself in Newcastle, so I thought I’d conduct a brief survey of the eggs on offer in this dynamic and vibrant city.
1. First up on my scotch egg trail was the Town Walls, an airy pub near the train station**. I’d read glowing online reviews of this place so I was anticipating a pleasant bit of grub. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. The breadcrumbs were toasted to perfection – crunchy and seasoned beautifully***. The yolk was runny, dribbling messily over the dish it came on. A small salad of some description garnished the piece – a classy touch.
Highly recommended – 5/5. £2.20
2. I then headed to the Broad Chare, a gastropub affiliated with Newcastle’s Live Theatre. There I received a warm welcome (almost as warm as the yolk in the egg I ordered). The scotch egg was slightly smaller than the one I’d had at the Town Walls, but it more than made up for this with its strong garlic-infused stylings. Again, the yolk was runny and the breadcrumbs crispy. Great quality pork too. Funnily enough I hadn’t really tried warm scotch eggs up until today, having been put off by a bad experience involving an Asda scotch egg and a microwave. But consider me a convert – when done right, cooked scotch eggs are a delight.
Highly recommended – 5/5. £3.50.
3. It was then a short walk to a Tesco Express, where I picked up a two-fer of their normal scotch eggs (not the fancy Dan £2 ones that aren’t that great). Tesco scotch eggs are reliable but nothing special, especially if there’s a Waitrose or Marks and Sparks in the vicinity. Passable meat, mildly seasoned and with a decent enough texture. By this point there were rumblings of discontent emanating from my stomach. The journey to my next stop was not a pleasant one, and I could feel each step jolting the day’s food around in my belly.
Okay – 3/5, £1.25. 266 calories.
4. Ah, Sainsbury’s. Ah, humanity. I’ve had my ups and downs with their scotch eggs. Think of it as a hate-love-hate relationship. In my mid-teens I was of the opinion that they were a poor man’s Tesco, then at university my feelings towards them mellowed for the simple reason that they were the only supermarket within five minutes of my house. After today’s events I’m emphatically not a fan. The egg practically disintegrated as I took a bite out of it. The meat was soggy. My gut was now in full revolt, spasming angrily with every mouthful.
Bad – 1/5, £1.25. 266 calories.
5. Marks and Sparks, why did I leave you until last? Why did I leave you until the end of my scotch egg odyssey, when I’m in no fit state to enjoy you? M&S were my first love in the world of scotch eggs. I still think very highly of them, placing them at the very top of the supermarket scotch egg league – a truly top tier product. Today, however, my bowels were in a state of turmoil and so I couldn’t truly savour the chunky breadcrumbs, the high quality pork, the delicate seasoning. My stomach rumbled ominously as I waddled carefully back to the hotel, buttocks clenched. It was a blessed relief when I reached the sanctuary of a toilet and assumed the recovery position, head between my knees, squirting furious and frothy liquid onto the porcelain.
Mixed – 3/5, £1.10. 280 calories.
* Although I did indulge often in Quorn’s rather pathetic facsimile.
** Aside: as I walked into the the Town Walls, a shady character approached the barman and asked if he could have £400 cashback.
*** Normally I prefer scotch egg breadcrumbs to be soft – they can seem stale if the crumbs are too crisp. Beeches of Sheffield, an otherwise wonderful shop, is a repeat offender on this front.