TERRY Laybourne's latest restaurant venture is housed in a former derelict warehouse on the banks of the River Wear, in the heart of old Sunderland.
Brasserie 21 is situated on the ground and first floors of the Grade II-listed building. The 68-seat restaurant joins Laybourne's three other inspiring ventures - 21 Queen Street, Newcastle; Café 21, Ponteland; and Bistro 21, Durham - that helped him win the Restaurateur of the Year Catey earlier this month.
Brasserie 21's menu was put together by head chef Adrian Watson in conjunction with Laybourne and sous chef Andrew Richardson. Watson has worked with Laybourne for five years, most recently as head chef at 21 Queen Street.
"We are aiming at quite a wide market - everyone from students to business people - so we've included something for everyone," says Watson.
While the lunch menu, with a choice of five dishes at each course, changes daily, the more extensive à la carte menu is revamped every four weeks. There are also a number of daily dishes on offer, usually chosen by Watson as a result of his morning visit to the fishermen landing their catch on the quayside just 200 yards from the restaurant. Crabs, lobsters, langoustines and monkfish are all available in abundance.
The à la carte menu offers a choice of 12 starters, 12 main courses and 10 puddings. Dishes include those that have become signatures in Laybourne's other restaurants, such as the fish soup with Gruyäre cheese, garlic croutons and rouille (£5) and the ham knuckle, parsley and young vegetable terrine (£4.50).
In addition to classic brasserie-style dishes such as sirloin steak, béarnaise sauce and chips (£13) and grilled calves' liver with bacon and onions (£11.50), there are the likes of grilled turbot, olive oil mash and red wine sauce (£13.50), roasted rabbit leg with provenáale vegetables and tapenade (£11), and confit of duck with Chinese five-spice and Asian vegetables (£11).
A vegetarian menu offers five starters and four main courses including bucatini with wild mushrooms (£8) and vegetable fritto misto with tapenade, a‹oli and hummus (£9.50).
Best-selling desserts currently include chocolate truffle cake (£5), iced hazelnut parfait with raspberries (£4.50) and knickerbocker glory (£4.50).
Watson, who has a brigade of six chefs, says the brasserie is currently serving up to 40 lunches and about 90 dinners, but he expects to be able to increase this to 130 covers at night. "Sunderland needs us," he says. n
Brasserie 21, Wylam Wharf, Low Street, Sunderland SR1 2AD. Tel: 0191-567 6594