Kingslodge Inn Durham

Conversation is at the heart of friendship.

It’s on our strap line and it’s certainly true for Suzanne and I. But what we need is a lovely, comfy, friendly place to chat. One that’s so lovely, comfy and friendly you forget to take pictures of the wonderful food you’re eating!

The Kingslodge Inn in Durham one such place. Nestled in a street not far from Durham train station you will find the vision of the new owners coming to fruition in a cosy and welcoming traditional pub with top notch en-suite accommodation (we didn’t see it but the waitresses assured us that it was true), serving beers, local real ales and home-cooked food to appeal to the local community as well as visitors to the area.

With the help of sat nav we were welcomed into the Kingslodge Inn through the metal gates and into their own private car park.

The moment we walked through the door we were greeted by lovely staff who showed us to our booth. And then, we looked up and a couple of hours had passed! Partly due to the fact that we’d not seen each other properly for AGES, partly due to the fact that despite there being a plethora of signs saying to go to the bar to order we patiently waited (until we could wait no more) and thirdly but not least important, because the food was so wonderful we kept ordering, eating and chatting.

The perfect night out!

This would be a pretty useless review if we didn’t mention the actual food! So here we go…

Kingslodge-starter

This wonderful Antipasto was enough to whet our appetites. A tasty selection of cured meats, olives, bread and oils, is a lovely sharing platter (unless you are Suzanne and want to eat the lot). (I’m sorry Nicola but I don’t like sharing ^Suz)

And now we need to be honest….We were chatting away when our mains came and we completely and utterly forgot to take images (sorry but it’s your own fault Kingslodge Inn you shouldn’t have made us so comfortable). That has to be the best testimonial we could give, right? We ordered (and wolfed) down pan seared salmon with creamy lemon sauce, served with wild rice & broccoli and The Kingslodge Burger which consisted of Aberdeen Angus steak mince, topped with melted cheddar cheese & relish, served with fries, salad & coleslaw.

The salmon, rice and broccoli were all well cooked alas the lemon sauce was a let down for Suzanne and she’s glad she asked for it separately – it could just be her though as on the whole she’s not a lover of sauce on fish. The burger and it’s accomplishments were absolutely huge and ever so tasty.

Onto dessert…

Kingslodge cheesecake

Suzanne-icecreamThis cheesecake was as indeed very pretty. Different from the usual cheesecake, it’s a bit mousy but no less flavoursome for it! The sticky toffee sundae was as glorious as it looks below but well and truly defeated us. It was a little too much for one (you can see that it’s nearly as big as Suzanne’s head!), I’d recommend sharing it, unless of course you’re in the mood for a full-tummy treat.

We washed everything down with a couple of glasses of wine from a bottle of house red (the rest we took home) and we’d order the same bottle in future.

After we had finished and our plates were cleared we spent some time talking to one of the waitresses (I’m so sorry I didn’t take down her name). She truly seemed happy in her new role and loved that she was being developed and receiving a lot of training. Investment in staff is so important to both myself and Suzanne and so it was so nice to hear about her story so far and we wish her good luck.

Would we visit again, absolutely infact we can’t wait to try breakfast sometime soon.

I’ve also just visited the newest member of the Inn Collection which is The Commissioner’s Key  in Blyth Northumberland keep your eyes peeled for our review.

Take care

Nic and Suz x

Le Raaj curry

Every night is #currynight at Le Raaj.  And me and Suzanne do love a good curry. We have our firm favourites, always mild and creamy and I have eaten the same meal for about 15 years, but Le Raaj in Chester-le-Street brought out Suzanne’s adventurous side!

BubblesLe Raaj is a lovely restaurant. Clean and fresh, it’s tastefully decorated and the ladies toilets are very nice too (these things matter).  The first thing you notice when you walk through the door are the water panels and the bubbles. They’re dotted throughout the restaurant and are strangely hypnotic and very calming.

It was a Tuesday night when we visited so we weren’t expecting it to be super busy but were pleasantly surprised at the amount of people eating; always a good sign, and the atmosphere was happy .

An extensive well priced menu had little impact on me, the usual onion bhajis and korma (chicken not veg this time for a bit of variety) were swiftly ordered, but Suzanne struggling to choose, took the recommendation of the lovely Ahmed and ordered a Chingri Mirch, lightly spiced prawns served in a whole grilled pepper and a Makhoni, a creamy tikka chicken with a really fruity kick.

And then, she asked for a cheesy naan. Now, I love cheese. And I love naan. But together with a curry? I assumed that the bubbles were influencing her decision making capabilities but I went with it – variety is the spice of life after all (dreadful pun I know).

Starters = Lush. Fresh, tasty, well cooked and plated. Couldn’t go wrong.  And the main courses ditto. The korma was as creamy and delicious as it should be and the Makhoni was as beautiful in taste as it was in colour. There’s something about a vibrant bright red curry that’s very exotic, making you dream of warm weather and travelling around far away countries.

Suzanne devoured the cheesy naan. It was very cheesy. I hastily ordered some additional rice and left her to it!

Le raaj icecreamAhmed convinced us to try a sweet. We wouldn’t have ordered one and were already onto coffee, but we’re easily persuaded.

Cheesecake topped with ice cream and a wafer, ‘monkey’s blood’ (raspberry or strawberry sauce for those outside if the North East) and a dash of cream. Devoured.

We sat in the restaurant for a fair while chatting away after we’d finished. We weren’t hurried out but rather left in peace for some rare best-friend down time. Very much appreciated.

The question for us when visiting new places is always ‘Would we return?’.  Great food, lovely staff, hypnotic bubbles, a resounding yes for Le Raaj.

Check out their full menu and price list and they even do take away!

You can follow them on twitter, facebook and instagram.

 

River Beat Asian Tapas restaurant, GatesheadOh yes. Tapas. Asian food. Could there be a better combination?

It’s 15 years since I visited Thailand, a country that’s stunning, eclectic, busy, quiet, frantic (Bangkok literally overwhelmed my senses) and relaxing at the same time. The food is no different, spicy, sweet, mild, hot and always tasty.

Food and importantly sharing it with family and friends, is at the heart of Thai culture and River Beat owner, Andy Drape set out to capture that essence of sharing great food with great company at his restaurant situated right on the south bank of the River Tyne.

Calming and blue River TapasSuzanne and I decided (on a random whim, as you do) to pop into River Beat for a Saturday lunchtime treat. As soon as we walked in, the great atmosphere hit us. It wasn’t busy but the calming blue decor and the view of river relaxed us in an instant.

Tapas (the Spanish variety) is one of my favourite foods; it such a good idea to be able to try lots of different types of dishes rather than be confined to one, although Suzanne isn’t often one for sharing.

But neither of us had ever had tapas influenced by Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai & Vietnamese cuisines. We were in for a real treat, the menu caters for literally every taste and we love the ethos:

“Salty, spicy, sour & sweet, enjoy them together, your dining experience can be as relaxed as you like”, have what you want, when you want it”.

Our absolute favourite dishes were the Cambodian yellow curry with cauliflower pakora which you can see at the top of this blog post. The quick seared scallop and pork belly (top) and the fig and blue cheese filo tartlet with dukkah crumble (bottom), in the image below.  This food is seriously well cooked. Really, really lovely. Andy (owner and chef) demonstrates his passion for this area of our world with great skill. The portion sizes were spot on, if you have a couple of dishes you’ll be satiated but not stuffed. And the presentation was really pretty too.

scallops on pork and fig blue cheese filo

We contemplated a sweet. We weren’t hungry. We’d eaten enough.  But. Lemon posset with a raspberry meringue won us over and was worth it. Tangy, tangy lemon cleansed our pallets and was the perfect end to the meal, the meringue had an unusual consistency which we couldn’t quite put our finger on but was yummy.

lemonThere’s something about water that just makes me relax, wind down and switch off. As we sat sipping coffees, we chatted about coming back to the restaurant in the late spring, and summer when the sunshine will be beating down on the outside terrace (we hope).

This restaurant may be a little off the beaten track, but it only takes a minute to park up at the Swing Bridge and walk across, or along from the car park under the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side.

And it’s well worth it. Suzanne and I could have sat looking out at the river until we were hungry enough for round two.

Check out their full menu and simply enjoy x

Turtle Bay, Newcastle

As eating experiences go, this was a hot one! Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant opened its doors in Newcastle with the same pizazz and panache as on their menu. When you think Caribbean, what comes to mind? I’ve never been before, but my imagination conjurers up balmy weather, white beaches, sunshine, cocktails and lots of coconuts! This new eatery had a lot to live up to.

As soon as we walked through the door, the well rehearsed staff greeted us personally, shaking our hands and introducing themselves. Nice touch. Immediately offered a cocktail, we were onto a winner.

So let’s start with those cocktails. Wow! They pack some punch (pardon the pun). With plenty to choose from, and some including a 63 percent proof white rum, you definitely need to leave the car at home when you’re having a night out in the Caribbean.

As a bone-fide rum lover, I was in absolute heaven as the rum stocked bar offers a choice of over 40 varieties.

Wandering around, there was a great atmosphere, busy, eclectic, colourful. I was already looking forward to trying the food. Having never eaten in a Caribbean restaurant, I didn’t have any expectations. But if you love all things spicy, I imagine you’ll want to move in.

Turtle Bay Cutters

To the food. The sheer volume we got to sample was staggering (thank you Turtle Bay Newcastle for looking after us so well). Deliciously spicy, the ‘Cutters’ (starters) are inspired by Beach Shacks & Street Hawkers across the Caribbean Islands… Jerk Pit Prawns, Duck Rolls, Jerk Chicken Wings, Pulled Pork Salads, Flat Breads, there are any amount of choices to nibble at and washed down with a soothing Banana and Peanut Butter smoothie, this first course was a real hit on our table.

(I wasn’t sure if that smoothie would work, but we couldn’t get enough of them. Like a pudding in a glass it tempered the spices).

The main courses kept on coming, ‘One Pots’ rich, slowly simmered & uniquely Caribbean of Goat Curry and the scrumptious coco-nutty Run Down; my personal favourite, creamy, flavoursome with just the right amount of kick. A variety of salads and Jerk Pit BBQ food, there’s enough on this menu to satiate any appetite.

Run Down

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay to sample the sweets, but we left with brownies packed in a cute little brown boxes so we were happy ladies.

Nicola and Suzanne

As you’d expect, the staff were lovely, informative and friendly. We really did appreciated the time everyone took to greet us personally and shake our hands. Great customer service always makes the difference when dining out, and this service was great.

Unapologetic Caribbean really works. The décor is great, the eclectic mix of colours and murals represent the food; loud and made to be seen. This restaurant, like the food is not shy or retiring. Fun and frolics, a place to enjoy with friends and go cocktail-tastic.

This taste of the Caribbean in Newcastle has made me want to book my plane ticket to the real place. But in the meantime, I’ll be back to sample the other 39 or so varieties of rum.

Nic  x