Review: Is Banyan a bobby dazzler?

Banyan is the newest establishment to hit the ever-changing Newcastle social scene. After waving goodbye to Jamie’s, Banyan swooped in and grabbed this prime city centre location, right by Grey’s Monument in that lovely transition zone between the established watering holes on Grey Street and the gateway to Newcastle’s shopping haunts, including Fenwick and the entrance to Eldon Square. I had sauntered past (actually pressed my nose up against the glass to have a look at the construction) every time I had the chance. So when an email from the nice Banyan people invited me to their Blogger/VIP event in preparation for the launch the following day I was cock a hoop.

So Friday night came and taking along one of my dearest friends (she is no-nonsense and just as judgemental as me - love her) off we went. The usual 3 hours getting ready process started beforehand as a result of faffing, chatting, eyeliner slips and lipstick deliberations (me, she doesn’t need the prep I do - bitch) we were finally in our carriage (Uber) and off to see if Banyan was living up to the excitable hype.

Once we got there and passed the pretty guest list lady that checked the ‘names not down you’re not coming in’ list, we were given A LOT of free drink vouchers (thank you Banyan!) and in we went. Greeted by men walking around playing brass instruments, a lady singing and a wall of prosecco this felt like it was definitely living up to the hype! The decor is the first thing that hits you, luxurious meets trendy with a shit tonne of flowers (as you can see I dressed accordingly).

Wandering around the vibe was fun, a good mix of people and a good chance to show off on a busy night, the bar and the canapés were flowing and the promotions team had worked really hard to make the night a success. We felt that it could have stripped back a little on the bells and whistles and still been just as good as the atmosphere was buzzing. I tried the Mango and Vanilla Martini which was beyond delicious, I am a traditionalist with cocktails and rarely stray from a cosmopolitan but this was something worth trying, I had another. My friend opted for a Ginger and Pineapple Mai Tai, it didn’t last long, not too sweet and not a ridiculous amount of ice either (hate that). I sampled a variety of canapés too, I couldn’t tell you what they were (sorry I am not that dedicated) but again, awesome.

Upstairs is very pretty, not only does the upstairs bar have a huge replica Indian Fig Tree (which is what a Banyan is - I am not that clever but Google is), the decor has a lot of points to the North East such as the Neon ‘Bobby Dazzler’ over the bar and blends in a real feeling of trying to adopt a little bit of us nice Geordie people into what it is doing. The toilets…... wow….not something I would normally feel the need to reference but they are so ‘insta-worthy’ (probably the only time I will ever say that, what a horrific term). They are dark enough that you look amazing even after 27 Martinis, the neon lighting is very Studio 54 and don’t get me started on the foliage on the ceiling, love it! The rest of the night was a fabulous blur, but then not to be cynical (moi?) but it was opening night after all! So I decided to return….. With my Mum.

Dramatic pause….. Dun dun derrrr music……

It was just as awesome, in fact, I would say better. We popped in on a Sunday afternoon for lunch and drinks. Still relatively new it was busy, but nicely so, for an afternoon. The venue was immaculate and not too dark for daytime, we sat upstairs so Carol could see the big fig tree that is now becoming a synonymous feature of Banyan Newcastle. We ordered a variety of plates to try including; Panko crumbed King Prawns (so good, really flavoursome and beautifully presented), pitta and hummus (too much pitta and only served with cucumber so wouldn’t order this again), Bang Bang chicken skewers (nom nom nom) and the crispy duck and watermelon salad (so good and not too much dressing, really fresh). I tried a different cocktail including the Apple and Melon spritz, which will be my official drink of the summer, so refreshing that I could drink them until they come out my ears.

The best part of the visit was getting a much better feel of the venue when it wasn’t on its main audition. A huge plus in my opinion were the staff; really friendly and super helpful but not intrusive. If you asked something they weren’t sure of you weren’t fobbed off, they checked. I like that. When we went to leave there was no push to leave a tip (we did, however) when paying by card as the service was just as good as the big tree with the sparkly lights.

I will be back to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks (not all at the same time), I just want a photograph on the beautiful flowery swing but it is always occupied with other instagram people. On saying that there is every chance it won’t hold me my weight after working my way through the entire menu which I think will be pretty soon. Banyan, you are in fact a bobby dazzler.

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