The best restaurant in the north east?
Where? Jesmond Dene House, Jesmond Dene Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 2EY, (0191-212 3000)
Mood? Impeccable fine dining. Begin with a drink in the comfortable oak-panelled bar while you choose from the menu, before moving to your table in the dining hall (a former music room) – hopefully with a view over the landscaped gardens.
Why go? Newcastle is a thriving city of culture and deserves a visit in any case. The luxurious Jesmond Dene House, a Grade 2-listed building dating from 1822, is near the city centre but still feels secluded and tranquil. Voted the top destination in the city by the AA, and boasting a delicious menu featuring seasonal products – mainly from respected local sources (including herbs grown in the garden) – Jesmond Dene House is, quite frankly, an essential north-eastern experience.
To eat? The recommended Tasting Menu (£55), features an unmissable starter of langoustine fritters with shaved fennel salad and lemon mayonnaise. The unpretentious Taste of Northumbria menu (£34.50) includes a charming eggy bread and a Newcastle Brown Ale ice cream dessert. Apart from the set menu, we recommend Steve Ramshaw’s organic Aberdeen Angus plate with two celeries: using award-winning beef from a local farm, the dish features a beautiful contrast of quick-cooked rare fillet and slow-cooked shoulder (marinated for five days in red wine before a gentle roasting, lasting hours). We were delighted to see quince – possibly one of the most delicious but under-rated cooked fruits, ever – on the dessert menu, as a millefeuille with honey cream and Sauteres sabayon. Don’t leave without tasting it.
To drink? By the glass, try a dry German Riesling or if you fancy a red, go for the 2003 Nebbiolo d’Alba. Recommended cocktails are the Polish Martini (Zubrowka Bison vodka with apple and lime juice) and the Cinderella (orange, pineapple and fresh lime). Jesmond Dene House’s award-winning wine expert, David Borwick, is one of the region’s first full-time sommeliers.
Need to know? The restaurant regularly hosts a number of events like jazz suppers, ladies’ lunches and special evenings hosted by guest food and wine experts. Call 0191-212 3000 for details. To make a night of it, the restored gothic mansion of Jesmond Dene House is also a luxury hotel, housing a contemporary international art collection that forms part of the University Gallery of Northumbria University.
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