It isn’t often you will find me out late on a Friday night (or any night for that matter!) but there was a good reason to break the cycle and get all dressed up for as there was a new local bar and restaurant that opened up on November 23rd called Sanctuary.
Sanctuary is the fourth venue in the Staffordshire & Cheshire Leisure Group that was founded by CEO and director Leon Burton in 2013. Leon is one of the UK’s youngest restauranteurs and hoteliers and is set on delivering memorable dining experiences for customers.
I had the pleasure of being invited to attend their opening night along with my boyfriend Chris to see what Sanctuary has to offer that distinctive from everywhere else.
Based in Newcastle-under-Lyme on High Street, Sanctuary is a garden themed bar that offers guests a place to unwind from the hustle of daily life to enjoy the fragrant cocktails and taste delicious food from their restaurant menu. From the outside, you get the impression that this is unlike anywhere else in the area because the decor offers elegance and modern styling that is needed for the town to move forward into future.
Once the doors opened at 7pm, we were both greeted with warm and friendly staff who offered us complimentary champagne just for the occasion. I was instantly impressed by the atmosphere the room gives off, and the tone of the lighting adds a touch of intimacy for a relaxing evening. We were greeted by Leon Burton himself, and he was a pleasure to meet, as you can tell that he has such a passion for hospitality and customer service to be spot on.
We were taken to our table by James who has been with the Staffordshire & Cheshire Group for 4 years and attended to us all night with such a wonderful friendly persona and consideration for our enjoyment throughout. He was kind enough to walk me through the allergen options because of my gluten intolerance to ensure that my order was done correctly.
First, we ordered our choice of drink which Chris went for an Old Fashioned and I opted for an Elderflower Gin. Both of us were very impressed with the flavours which does bode well for Sanctuary being a great place to come for a social evening with excellent tasting drinks.
Our starters came within a reasonable timeframe from ordering, which comforted us both knowing that the food was being freshly prepared and with care. Chris adored his choice of Mac & Cheese which was unusually drizzled with bbq sauce and filled with bacon. He told me that the consistency was creamy and that the pasta, sauce and bacon we cooked nicely.
I felt like changing it up for my starter and opted for their soup of the day which was celeriac and chestnut. It truly tasted like a homecooked dish, because both of the main key ingredients were strong enough to come through with each spoonful. Unfortunately, they were unable to supply me with gluten-free bread to go alongside but James told me that this is something that they will be working on in the near future.
For our mains, Chris chose the American Classic, which is two beef burgers, with melted cheese, deep fried bacon, caramelised onions, mustard and a gherkin relish inside a toasted brioche bun. All burgers come with fries can be upgraded) and homemade coleslaw. Chris described the burger as just a little over tender, as he prefers his cooked a little rare. He noted that the crispness of the bacon and the toasted bun did make the burger a little tough to digest after a while, which may be something to consider when ordering.
I chose to opt for the Thai Panang Curry which is one of their several vegan dishes available. It was a vegetable-based curry with a creamy coconut sauce served along with rice and a naan for non-gluten intolerant guests. I was very impressed by the aromatic flavours of this dish and felt very inspired to be more adventurous with my choices again in the future!
Of course, we both couldn’t leave without trying out a dessert! Chris chose the chocolate brownie served with ice cream, whilst I went for the only gluten-free option of sticky toffee pudding, drizzled in salted caramel. My dessert arrived super warm and covered in lots of the sweet sauce, making this one heck of a treat!
Unfortunately, there was an issue with Chris’ dessert in that is was too solid to even cut through (believe it was over-baked) and the staff who came to us were apologetic about and offered him another option. We knew that things would not be running as smoothly as possible because it was the first night, and didn’t believe that this would affect us from going back again at all.
As were where leaving we noticed how busy the venue had become and we were glad to see such a great turn out for an opening night.
We both came away very thankful to have come along and to have been among the first members of the public to try out all the Sanctuary has to offer. We were taken care of so well, especially our waiting staff Ellie and Olivia who did such a great job. I am sure that is will be the first of many visits to this venue.
To book a table or reserve sitting area for your next evening out in Newcastle-under-Lyme, head to Sanctuary’s website here