Harden's survey result
James Closes’s “global-quality cuisine” – “enjoyed as part of a 15-course tasting menu” – and “stunning wines” (“make friends with the sommelier and you will drink a more interesting selection”) have won foodie fame for this converted old pub with three rooms, out in the sticks of County Durham: the only restaurant in the north east with two Michelin stars. Even fans concede that it is “expensive”, however, and critics feel that “there’s too much hype and fuss” surrounding cooking that “at the eye watering prices, is good, but not that good”.
“One of the most memorable meals I have ever had…”, “an out-of-this-world experience…”, “just magical…” – folks don’t hold back in their praise for the Close family’s restaurant-with-rooms, set in an off-the-beaten-track village in County Durham, which “balances a modern kitchen and a clubby old-school dining room of dark wood panelling very effectively” and serves a “15-course menu of superb cooking coupled with great invention (to leave us gushing over a ‘salad of winter vegetables’ is deeply impressive!)”. Some resistance crept in regarding the level of expense however this year: even those who rate the cuisine highly can find the overall experience “overpriced”.
“I cried it was so good!”… “the single most satisfying food I’ve eaten in my 35 years on the planet!” … “James Close is one of the top, top chefs in the country and his incredible passion is shown in every detail” at this restaurant-with-rooms, “set in an unimposing, out-of-the-way village, in the Durham Dales”. That said, since it was awarded two Michelin Stars its ratings actually declined a fraction this year as it took flak for a couple of disappointing experiences. Perhaps, though, it was the strain of preparing to have the builders in? (Towards the end of the survey, in May 2017, the restaurant closed for a £400k extension and redevelopment, the building of a new restaurant entrance, and the installation of glass walls so diners can watch the chef and his team at work.)
James Close’s “hidden gem is now getting the accolades it deserves”: in October 2016 it was the only establishment to be elevated to two Michelin stars in this year’s crop of awards. He runs “a really down-to-earth team” who make “wonderful use of local ingredients” to create food that’s “delicious, subtle and well-presented, but also honest and wholesome rather than ‘too-clever-by-half’”. To cap it all, this restaurant with rooms is “beautifully located” too, in the Durham Dales.
Raby Hunt Restaurant Diner Reviews
"There were about 14 courses, most of which were very good, including the scallop and crab dishes. A large number of the courses were served without cutlery, with two different types of taco and an amazing mini "burger", with a brioche bun smaller than a golf ball, pastrami, foie gras and a thin slice of picked gherkin. My elderly father found these rather difficult to eat and left a significant proportion on the tablecloth. The summer salad was very varied and pretty - I'd not tasted a cucamelon before. A warm chocolate mousse with a black olive biscuit and sheep's yoghurt was a revelation, but would have been better served after the mango and yuzu tart. Unfortunately, the chef preferred rather more chilli and pepper than me. I could not taste the suckling pig (one of my favourite meats) because there was too much chilli. The finale was a chocolate skull with popping candy and pepper. Whilst the chocolate was beautifully executed, there was no trace of popping candy and much too much pepper. Most at the table had only one bite and left the rest. Service was friendly, if a little rushed at times (on a couple of occasions our table was slower than the chef). The sommelier was very good, with some interesting wines included in the wine pairing."
|Wine per bottle||£45.00|
Summerhouse, DL2 3UD
|Wednesday||6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Thursday||6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm‑2 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑2 pm, 6 pm‑9:30 pm|