Friday night on Pilgrim Street: Bierrex & Alvinos

A reasonably new addition to Newcastle’s ‘smokehouse’ trend, Bierrex is the latest offering from the De Giorgi family business (dAtbAr, Intermezzo, Paradiso). The bar, which is on the corner of Pilgrim Street and Market Lane, offers an ever-changing chalkboard of beers and a huge smokehouse menu. It sounded right up my street, so I headed along with a couple of friends on Friday to see how Bierrex stands up against Newcastle’s other smokehouse favourites.

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Pretty well priced, the stand out offering for me was the BBQ Board (same concept as Longhorns’ boards and Hop and Cleaver’s crates) – two or three meats with two sides of your choice. It was a pretty difficult decision as all of the options sounded amazing – three different kinds of ribs – THREE! (Short rib, beef ribs, pork rib). I opted for the St Louis (pork) Ribs and Wings ‘n’ Things (chicken wings and thighs) to go alongside sweet potato fries and the smoked veg stack.

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I must say, the service was second to none. Our waiter was incredibly friendly – he answered any queries we had about the menu, sorted our drinks and even offered some off the cuff cocktail recommendations for later. It’s been a while since I’ve had service as good as that anywhere in the toon – nice one, Bierrex.

BBQ Board: Wings (no things), St Louis Rib(s), sweet potato crisps & roasted veg stack
BBQ Board: Wings (no things), St Louis Rib(s), sweet potato crisps & roasted veg stack – £10

The food came pretty quick and with a big smile, as expected from our lovely waiter. My friends had both opted for combinations of pulled pork/beef ribs/brisket and their plates were chock-full with tasty meats. However, mine seemed a little disappointing in comparison. The ‘Wings ‘n’ Things’ were just wings – and only three of them. As an avid cooker myself, I know that chicken wings aren’t an expensive cut, so I definitely expected a few more, plus the lack of thighs was a let down. The St Louis Ribs was more like a slice of belly pork, which is luckily one of my favourite things but I’m not sure how clear that was on the menu.

The smoked veg stack was delicious, if not pretty cold, and the sweet potato fries were more like crisps – and super salty. I was starving and it all looked pretty good nonetheless, so I tucked in. The chicken wings were dry and low on the meat front (paling in comparison to Longhorns’ giant, juicy ones) but the marinade was delicious, at the end of my three wings, I was left wanting more.

The St Louis Rib was cooked to perfection with a layer of melt-in-the-mouth fat, belly pork cooked the way it should be. Loved the veg stack and the sweet potato fries (crisps) were an interesting concept, although not a match for Coop Chicken House or Burger Stop.

All in all the food was average, some good and some not so good but I don’t think it would stop me going again. For £10, and no queue (unlike Longhorns) it’s a pretty good deal if you choose the right meats.

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As this was my first time in Bierrex, I was completely unaware of the hidden ‘speak easy’ bar downstairs. My friend led us down there, through the door marked toilets and into a very dark room. The tiny cellar was dotted with quotes from famous writers and the cocktail selection looked awesome, although I was saving myself for the next place on our list. Absolutely love this concept and looking forward to taking Craig back there shortly to show him what’s behind the secret door.20150904_214724

We then headed next door to Bierrex’s sister bar, Alvinos, for a cocktails before catching the metro home. I’ve had mixed experiences in Al Vinos before, and I was yet to make my mind up about whether it was somewhere I would go regularly. Saying that, last time I was there the cocktail menu was in a cassette case (so that must have been a good couple of years ago). This time, the cocktails were displayed in a neat comic book complete with dust jacket. Even the hipster-hater in me loved this concept.

The 'Bloodsucker'

I went with ‘The Bloodsucker’ from the tequila menu. I have no idea why, maybe I had a few too many of Mexico’s best export on holiday and now I actually really like the stuff. A combinations of grapefruit, agave nectar, soda, lime, salt, San Pellegrino blood orange and, of course, tequila, this was right up my street. At only £6.25, Alvinos are offering quirky cocktails, with super high quality ingredients, for a really good rate. Many of Newcastle’s newest bars are shifting cocktails at £8-9 a pop – a crazy price, if you ask me.

All in all, I enjoyed a different Friday night (normally I’m asleep on the sofa by 9) and I’ll definitely be back to Alvinos to try another from the awesome cocktail list very soon.

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