We were very kindly invited by the guys at Jesmond Dene House to try out their Early Evening Menu. As regular readers of this blog will know, we don’t often frequent anywhere particularly up market… not sure why but I think there’s just an assumption that we won’t like anything or the portions will be tiny and we’ll still be hungry. I can assure you that Jesmond Dene House had neither of these effects upon us and, if anything, we’re already thinking about heading back to try more of their delicious menu.
We were running quite late on the night as we decided to drive along straight from work (well, dump the car at our flat around the corner then jog along so Craig could have a drink). Since the weather has been so bad lately, everyone in and around the Team Valley area clearly forgot how to drive and, as a result, we didn’t rock up at the restaurant until 20 minutes after the booking (I did call ahead to say we were going to be late). The staff were welcoming and friendly from the get-go and they were incredibly accommodating considering we are so late.
We were offered a drink in the bar but decided to head straight into the restaurant since we were starving by this point and were keen to have a peek at the menu. I was given my very own gluten free menu, which was only subtly different to the regular menu, and I was very surprised to see the vast choice on offer for my dietary requirements. We ordered a couple of glasses of house wine as we know literally nothing about the stuff – both were great, and that’s all I have to say on the matter.
We were offered bread and butter – three choices of bread (I just had standard gluten free) and three choices of butter, oh boy! Craig went for a ciabatta followed by a mozzarella, sun dried tomato and olive focaccia – this was a highlight for him. Butter-wise we opted for the ‘seaweed butter’. You know how the saying goes: when in Rome, order the seaweed butter! It was delicious and left us very excited for what the rest of the meal had in store.
We caught up briefly with the restaurant manager, Steve, who was so friendly and attentive. I would say often higher-end restaurants have a reputation for being stuffy and serious but Jesmond Dene House was anything but, all of the waiting staff were relaxed and amiable. I’d say it was fantastic service all-round.
For the starter Craig ordered the Roast Squash, Black Olive and Northumberland Honey (minus the Goats Cheese). He went for the veggie option as he is in the process of cutting poultry and red meat out of his diet all together. Although I have talked about my plans to cut down on meat next month, I’m back-tracking slightly at the moment as I am suffering severely with my ongoing digestive problems and am currently on the waiting list to see a dietitian. As a result, I am avoiding changing my diet too heavily in the coming month (that’s a post for another time).
I ordered the Chicken Liver Parfait, which was topped with Orange Marmalade and came with a few slices of gluten free bread. It’s rare that I get to indulge my love of pâté (I guess this was a fancy pâté) because not many places offer gluten free bread. It was absolutely delicious to say the least, I could drink that orange marmalade by the gallon!
For main course we both ordered the Roast Fillet of Stone Bass, which came on a bed of cauliflower, truffle emulsion (so fancy), macadamia nuts and crispy kale. Wow, just wow. What a treat this was! The flavours were absolutely perfect, and the nuts and kale brought a really unusual texture to the meal. The fish was a substantial size too, with a tasty crispy topping.. this was by far the best part of the meal.
For dessert I persuaded Craig to order the Rhubarb and Vanilla Gateau, which came with rhubarb sorbet. He was hesitant at first but it barely touched the sides so it was clearly the right choice. I ordered the Praline Sponge with White Chocolate and Dulcey Cream – I can’t believe this was gluten free! It had more of a brownie consistency than sponge, but it was exactly what I fancied and it was so refreshing to be able to order a proper pudding in a restaurant as I’m usually restricted to vanilla ice cream or a cup of tea.
All in all, this was a fantastic evening and I have no faults to pick. I am dying to go back and try their popular Afternoon Tea and sit in the conservatory on a sunny day. I’d like to say a big thank you to Steve and the tea for having us and giving us a taste of the finer things in life!
Early afternoon menu: 2 courses for £20.50, 3 courses for £24.50 served between 5-7pm