A visit to Seaham Hall has been on my wish list for quite some time, I often stalk the five star hotel’s Instagram account to swoon over images of the stunning rooms and luxurious spa. The food always looks fantastic too, although I’d never really thought about dining there unless I was staying over as it’s about 20 miles south of where I live in Newcastle.
However, I can now confirm it is definitely worth the drive, since I got the chance to sample the new summer menu at an exclusive blogger event. In this post I’ll share with you some of the highlights from our evening and I’ve got a special offer for you too… details are at the end of the post!
As we drove up the sweeping driveway and arrived at the breathtaking entrance of the stately Georgian country house, I had to pinch myself as it really was as impressive as I’d hoped it would be. If I had to sum up Seaham Hall’s style I’d say it was sophisticated and elegant, definitely worthy of your ‘saving it for best’ outfit (I wish I’d gone for something more glam but opted for this comfy jumpsuit in preparation for the six courses we were about to be served)!
Damien Broom, head chef at The Dining Room, invited James and I along to try some of his new dishes in the decadent setting of the Garden Room which is a private dining space alongside the hotel’s main restaurant. It’s a beautiful space that is tastefully decorated and filled with light from the large Georgian windows that overlook the picturesque grounds.
We were greeted with a glass of chilled Taittinger champagne and once all the bloggers had arrived Damien popped in and introduced himself. From our brief chat it was clear that he has a big passion for regional produce and he spoke enthusiastically about his suppliers.
I was impressed to hear that the local fishermen send photos of their catch to Damien from their boat every morning so he can choose the best fish of the day. He also works closely with local farmers and is so keen to ensure that nothing is wasted he does the butchering on-site and uses every part of the animal. The result of this attention to detail is a menu that is varied, original and absolutely delicious!
As it was a private event our menu had been specially created and we were also being spoilt to a variety of wines that had been carefully paired with each dish by knowledgeable sommelier Connor. Thankfully James had offered to be the designated driver!
The six course taster menu gave us a chance to sample the imaginative style of cooking offered in The Dining Room and the quirky creations that Damien and his team put together using local ingredients.
The main menu changes frequently depending on what’s in season but the unique setting, the quality of the food and the talent in the kitchen guarantees an exceptional fine dining experience regardless of when you visit or what you order.
Here’s a little run down of the beautiful summer dishes we enjoyed, I can honestly say it was one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had…
While we sipped on chilled champagne James and I were served this sharing plate of delicate appetisers. We each had a mackerel tart with caviar and cucumber which was a little taste of heaven. Damien had also topped crispy chicken skin with slices of summer radishes to create one of the most delicious finger foods I’ve ever had! Shortly after, huge rolls of warm sourdough arrived along with homemade salted Jersey butter which I had to try really hard not to devour in its entirety as I knew I would need to leave room for the dishes that followed…
Next to arrive was a first course of Masham lamb which had a rich, bbq flavour as it had been cooked over embers. This intense flavour was perfectly balanced by raw peas and elderflower. The sauce was divine, it was definitely my kind of dish! The paired wine was a light and fruity Sangiovese, not my usual tipple but the perfect accompaniment to the lamb.
The next dish was wild Whitby sea trout with grilled cucumber and buttermilk. The pop of colour on the plate from the vibrant fish was certainly aesthetically pleasing. The texture was a little slimey for me, I was glad the cucumber had been grilled as this provided an alternative consistency. Overall I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but not as much as I enjoyed the wine with this dish which was definitely my taste. It was a French white ‘Domaine Stéphane Aladame’, similar to a Chablis, perfect for a warm summer evening, I could have drank the whole bottle!
The third course was the star of the show in my humble opinion, salt aged Thirkelby duck served with grilled hearts and a summer vegetable tart. The duck was cooked perfectly, so tender and moist. I required a little encouragement from James to try the grilled heart but I’m glad it did, it was full of flavour, very rich and surprisingly delicious. The summer tart had a refreshing zest to it and kept the dish from being overpowering. We were treated to glasses of Chateauneuf du Pape, a classic pairing with the duck that went down a treat as you can imagine!
On to desserts and first up was this classic strawberry tart which had been given a sophisticated twist with aromatic herbs and was served with a pink vanilla cream. The pastry was thin and crisp and I’m a huge fan of strawberries so I devoured this dish with a huge smile on my face and washed it down with my favourite tipple, rose champagne. This would definitely be my dessert of choice in the main restaurant.
As if that wasn’t enough another dessert followed, Oakchurch raspberries with wild rose yoghurt and sourdough. It was like a quirky Eton mess and I loved it. It was quite similar to the first dessert but not quite as sweet. I was relieved and delighted in equal measure when instead of a dessert wine we were served Taittinger Nocturne, a sweet champagne that finished off our dining experience perfectly.
There’s no doubt about it, we had been well and truly spoilt by the team at Seaham Hall and had we ordered an equivalent amount of food and drink in The Dining Room the bill would have been quite staggering. That said, the quality and setting do justify the high-end prices, there’s no where else quite like it in the north east. I would definitely return for a special occasion and summer would be my chosen season, just look at that amazing sunset we were treated to as we left.
Reader Offer: If you order two courses at The Dining Room you’ll get the third free, simply quote ‘blogger event’ when you book. Offer ends 19th July.
*Ad – our meal and drink were complimentary in return for this post and some social media coverage. All the drunken pics and honest opinions are my own.