*AD – complimentary influencer dining event
Going to a ‘hotel’ or ‘hall’ for dinner might seem a grand affair, one reserved just for guests who are staying overnight. However, many of these places are open to any guests who wish to dine, with menus that are full of fresh, innovative cooking that deserve to be noticed.
One of these places is Seaham Hall. A five-star luxury spa hotel situated close to Seaham’s beach front in County Durham, and just a short turn off from the A19. It’s main restaurant, The Dining Room, is all about regional dining at its best, and is open every night of the week for guests (hotel resident or not) to enjoy an evening of good food in a gorgeous setting.
I’d last dined at The Dining Room at the start of the year, as the menu was transitioning from winter to spring. I know that head chef Damian Broom is passionate about cooking with the seasons and using the best of the produce that is available, so I was excited to see what his new summer menu would entail.
Instead of dining in The Dining Room, for this dining event we were taken to The Garden Room, one of Seaham Hall’s private event rooms. It’s a gorgeous space, with beautiful doors leading out onto the pretty-as-a-picture grounds. I wasn’t aware that you could hire the event rooms for private dining, and this would be such a lovely setting to celebrate a special occasion or anniversary.
Before we got going with the different courses from the summer menu, we were surprised with a selection of amuse bouche. I always love amuse bouche – they are a great way to show the personality of a chef, and also give you a little taste and feel of what the style of food is going to be like for the rest of the night.
The amuse bouche were both fantastic: a mackerel tart with green strawberries and caviar, and a delightfully crispy chicken skin topped with slices of pickled vegetables and hazelnuts. Delicious little bites. I would have loved a whole side dish of that chicken skin.
Next, we were served our own loaf (yes, one loaf per person) of homemade sourdough bread with homemade jersey butter. With a crunchy crust and beautifully creamy butter, I restricted myself to just one wedge as I knew I had five more courses coming, and I couldn’t be that person who fills themselves up on bread. However, I did sneak a little bit more of it later on when waiting for one of the next courses to arrive. So good.
On to our first starter. As we were trying lots of dishes from the Summer Menu at Seaham Hall to get a real flavour of what was on offer, all of our dishes were paired back slightly, so they were a little of a smaller portion than what you would receive when dining from the a la carte menu in the restaurant.
Our first dish was Masham lamb cooked over embers, with Spenwood, raw peas and elderflower. You could taste the smokiness of the meat with each bite, and the lightness of the peas and elderflower paired well with the flavour intensity from the meat. They also added such a vibrant colour to the dish.
Our next course was Wild Whitby sea trout, grilled cucumber, chef’s leftover buttermilk and Douglas fir pine. Head chef Damian is really conscious about using the best regional products he can find to give a fine-dining, regional taste to his seasonal menus. I liked how the menu highlights where the ingredients have come from. This dish was fresh and light with sharpness coming from the cucumber, although I would have liked more hits of Douglas fir pine coming through.
For me, the next dish was the best savoury course of the night (although, does the chicken skin amuse bouche count as a ‘course’? It was fantastic). Salt-aged Thirkelby Duck, with a grilled duck heart and a summer vegetable tart. The duck was cooked perfectly. It had a thin layer of crispy skin and then tender, juicy meat which left the whole dining group impressed. The grilled duck heart had an earthy, barbecued flavour, while the summer vegetable tart with its thin crispy pastry and medley of vegetables was a great way of getting veg on the plate in a unique and delicious way. They were each fantastic accompaniments to the duck. It was a splendid dish, and if you go – please order it.
It was time for the dessert portion of our stomachs to take over, with not one but two desserts on the menu. The Bruce Strawberry tart with vanilla crema and aromatic herbs was a show-stopper. For me, it was the perfect dessert. I’m much more likely to go for a fruit or citrus-flavoured dessert rather than a sticky caramel or rich chocolate pud, and this was sweet and fruity without being sickly. Who doesn’t love a strawberry tart? Especially when it’s executed as well as this one.
The Oakchurch raspberries with chef’s yoghurt, with wild roses and ‘Yesterday’s sourdough’ had a tough act to follow. I was intrigued by the mention of ‘Yesterday’s sourdough’ and wondered what that would be. Just like a biscuit crumb that is sprinkled over a dessert, chef had used literally Yesterday’s sourdough bread, toasted it and broken it over the dessert. It was brilliant. Lovely crunchy toasty pieces were enjoyed with the set yogurt (which had a panna cotta kind-of texture to it), and the fat raspberries. Another delightful fruity dessert. I love summer menus, as they really do showcase all the glorious fruit that is currently in season.
It was a brilliant evening, and it was lovely to get to know some other regional foodies better too. And, if you would like to dine at The Dining Room at Seaham Hall, I’ve got an EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT OFFER just for you. Simply quote ‘blogger event’ when making a reservation and you’ll get two courses and the third free! [Valid until 19th July 2019].