Tucked away on St John Street Sunniside, Spent Grain is a sleek, contemporary, Sunderland restaurant serving up modern bistro dishes that prides itself on local neighbourhood vibes. 

Matthew Thomas spent an afternoon with owner Michael Jameson to find out more… 


Spent Grain: Everything You Need To Know About Sunderland’s Contemporary Neighbourhood Restaurant



Sunderland is undergoing a radical transformation. 

It’s clear to see that our business sector is booming, a game-changing £18m culture venue has opened and a raft of independent businesses have joined Sunderland’s ever-expanding pool of local ventures.

One of the busiest spots for soaring activity in recent months has been at St John Street. 

What was an abandoned unit left derelict for some time, local lad and kitchen maestro, Michael Jameson, is on a culinary crusade to expand Sunderland’s hospitality offering through a new venture with business partner, Julie Gibson. 

Having already found success on Wearside with The Urban Terrace Kitchen Deli in Pallion, Michael has opened Spent Grain with a completely overhauled offering that has already proved to be a major hit in Sunderland. 

So much so, he’s opened a second site named The Pickled Radish. 


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Community cuisine at its finest


Spent Grain bistro in Sunderland


Spent Grain is the place for small plates, off-the-cuff specials and hearty mains that offer a delicious mix of flavours and locally-sourced produce unlike anywhere else in the city.

Michael and the team have made their mark on this unit.

It’s an enticing, intimate and airy space without that sense you’re sitting on top of fellow diners, with a vibrant finish that makes for a cosy affair. 

The skylight above the bar is a standout feature and amplifies the space beautifully. With access to some of the finest produce around, the food here is top-notch. 


What we ate… 




Delectable nibbles include beef tacos with chipotle mayonnaise, ham hock terrine and a delightfully-refreshing spinach and goat’s cheese frittata. 

An incredibly moreish bite. Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or cocktail specialist, you’ll love it at Spent Grain as both are vitally important to their offering. 

Coffee beans come directly from Fika Coffee in County Durham and a rich flat white makes it oh-so-easy to while away the hours here, whereas stronger sips such as the espresso martini is deliciously indulgent, the old fashioned packs a fruity punch and the mojito is guaranteed to warm the cockles.

Another equally clement plate brings tender beef that’s been braised for eight hours, a zingy watercress salad that’s punctuated by a healthy dollop of salty French fries and a radiant roast tomato. 

Other mains include a pearly piece of cod fresh from the North Sea. 

This is accompanied by a colourful pea and leek risotto before a generous helping of smoked cheddar to add a sharp contrast to the lightness from the cod.

A labour of love, Spent Grain is a perfect example of what a local, neighbourhood bistro looks like in the modern age. 

A comfortable hangout, a place where local people can bond over fresh food made by chefs desperate to please, a hub where come nightfall, it takes on a speakeasy vibe where people can converse with quality drinks.

You’ll not find any slap-dash meal, lacklustre service or flashy vibes here, it’s a place that goes against the grain. 

A real local affair offering the best that the North East has to offer, you can find spent grain at: 67 John Street, SR1 1QH.

Have you been to Spent Grain? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

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