A good boutique hotel really has to mean great food – it is such a part of the package.
With the finest Northumbrian produce on the doorstep, Walwick has an unrivalled larder, so it was a joy to hear that the night’s special was a locally-landed roast pheasant.
The hotel’s dining room was a beautiful and dramatic place to enjoy it. The furnishings a soft rather than gaudy gold with heavy-print curtains, thick napery and an opulent feel. Young staff are local and learning their stuff, but keen, capable and friendly.
The menu, from the hand of Steven Murray, offered up classics with plenty of local inspiration. OK, my Stornoway black pudding with Foie gras wasn’t entirely ‘local’ but deeply satisfying nevertheless. Other offerings were ham hock terrine, the perennial twice-baked cheese souffle and roast breast of partridge. My chum raved about fresh-as-anything lemon sole fillet with a rich stock-blessed lobster bisque and lobster & crab potato cake alongside.
Ingredients are proudly from the Northumbrian larder such as locally-farmed beef and lamb from Tim and Jack Oliver who farm nearby. They rear belted Galloway cattle – and my friend knows them a bit – so she dined on a mighty rib-eye.
A gutsy chunk of meat, marbled though with creamy fat and served with triple cooked chips, tomatoes and crispy onions.
Back to that roast pheasant from the ‘specials’.
Gently cooked, it was succulent and gamey, coping well with rich berryish accompaniments of an intense raisin puree, fig and the crunch of macadamia nuts – with a cranberry jus. Like something from the school’s nature table – in the tastiest way.
Defeated by desserts, we could only think about food the next day, managing to welcome a great breakfast menu with a Walwick Health Drink (berry, honey, smoothie) to kick things off, decent hearty coffee and then smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast.
More supplier name-checking: Scotts, award-winning butchers in Ponteland village create unique Walwick bangers. Eggs are from Lynup Farm, Ingoe and milk and cream from a herd of Shorthorns and Ayreshires in Slaley.
Article Featured in LUXE February 2017.