Middlesbrough’s Institute of Modern Art, locally known simply as MIMA, is somewhere I have never visited. Me as well as my mum aren’t very arty to say the least so it’s never been somewhere that has interested us.
Having said that we jumped at the chance to attend ‘The Smeltery’; a new restaurant experience within the gallery by the people behind the award winning ‘Waiting Room’ in Eaglescliffe.
Food in itself is art so this restaurant is seen to be an extension of other exhibitions within the gallery. It is also a community space built for the community by the community. There is a community garden with all vegetables that are grown there used in the restaurant. Free workshops will take part in the cafe with recent classes so far on on making your own gin and bread to name just a few.
The attention to detail in the restaurant is second to none with many of the tables made of cork with hand crafted tidbits scattered around adding to the aesthetics. The idea behind the decor is to create the idea of the cafe as a place for doing things such as making, playing and conversing; something of which has seemed to die a little in this social media world we now live in. It is definitely something unique to the area.
What I personally love is the sourcing of the ingredients; coming from local, small free range and organic suppliers. With these ingredients the restaurant incorporates slow cooking techniques into its menu which, according to chef/artist Luke Harding, really enhances the flavour of the dishes on offer.
If the starters were anything to go by alone we were in for a very good Sunday lunch. I had the North Sea Fish Pancake with Thermidor Sauce which was different but really tasty. Combining fish inside a pancake is something I’d never heard or thought of but it worked well. Mum had the Roast Cauliflower and Almond Salad which she said was nice but wasn’t her kind of thing in hindsight.
On to the mains! We both went for the Free Range Roast Chicken which was served with a Yorkshire pudding and new potatoes coated with sesame seeds. A separate bowl of autumnal veg, creamy cheesy cauliflower and red cabbage was also served. We both concluded that you could definitely taste the difference in the quality of all the produce with the chicken being notably different.
The dessert was the highlight of the meal for the both of us. I had the Lime and White Chocolate Cheesecake and had a choice of ice creams to pick from for it to be served with; I opted for the lemon meringue. Hands down I can say it was one of the nicest desserts I’ve ever had and I’ve had A LOT! Mum went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Gingerbread ice cream and her taste buds were equally as satisfied. It really was a fantastic Sunday lunch experience!
We both agreed that we loved the concept of combining art with food and loved the theme of social change that both the restaurant and MIMA itself envisage. MIMA runs classes to help Syrian refugees learn English and creativity workshops for elderly people with dementia. Acts of kindness like this really pull on my heart strings!
We hope you enjoyed this little review of a new concept in MIMA and would like to thank the staff in The Smeltery for a lovely afternoon.