I have a love / hate relationship with shopping. It is one of those activities where I have to be in a good mood, hangover free, and feeling flush as well as slim. It is therefore quite a rare occasion when all of these things to be aligned.
Mostly I trudge around the shops, look at clothes I can’t afford before giving up and heading to a good café. Britain’s city centres are filled with uninspiring chain cafes such as Starbucks, Eat and Pret. But if you look a little beyond these neon signs selling over priced lattes, you will find the last remaining forefront of unchained café hideaways. Panis in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne could be the ultimate pin-up as a café that has flown in the face of globalised branded chains. It has gained in popularity year after year and Geordies will go out of their way, sometimes queuing out of the front door, for a bruschetta and cup of rich Italian coffee.
I first came across Panis as a teenager. It was pretty much THE place to be for any 17 year-old. It was, and is, affordable, serves great, simple Italian food, has fantastic service, and is a little haven from shopping hell.
The décor is a little strange – a friend once remarked about its similarity to the inside of an intestine. I’m not quite sure how she knows what that looks like, but Panis certainly went for a unique interior style when designing their café.
While the menu has changed a bit over the years, they still have some of my favourite dishes including melanzane alla parmigiana, minestrone soup and insalata di fagioli. There are always daily specials on the board which always include at least two fabulous vegetarian dishes.
So next time you find yourself in Newcastle city centre looking for a good and affordable café to rest your feet and quench your thirst, look no further than Panis.