Let the quest begin!

The purpose of this blog isn't simply to post a list of negative threads. It's more an effort in highlighting the very best places to eat, drink and be merry. All experiences are my own, or with my family. There is no connection between myself or any of the establishments other than as a paying punter. If you take exception to any post, please feel free to offer your own comments. This is meant to be a fair an honest opinion of where we've eaten.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Cafe Rouge Durham City, 21 Silver Street Durham, County Durham DH1 3RB

This blog was never intended to be a vent for negative feedback.
From the outset, I decided only the best would feature! Eating places where both my family and I enjoyed a meal, a snack, even a coffee! Remember, this is my opinion, others may have fared better or worse at any establishment featured in this blog. However, I did feel the need to pots this!
After spending a night in Durham for my wife’s birthday, we took in the LAU concert at the Gala after having a meal at Oldfields Restaurant,
The next morning, we were looking for breakfast!
Looks right, sounds right, tastes hmm!
I needed to start this post in such a manner, as my direction wouldn’t be positive regarding Café Rouge in Durham City. Perhaps I choose to visit at the wrong time. (11.00am breakfast) might be a challenge for a chef with a midweek hangover, that’s the excuse I made for him/her when I viewed the four tiny, shrivelled blackened mushrooms on my plate!
Was there something wrong with his eyesight, did he think I wouldn’t notice before pushing them to one side in disappointment- shock even!
If I was to start at the end, I have to say the service was very polite and friendly. The nice young lady who served us, did her very best to encourage a positive response to her question, ‘was everything okay?’ ‘Yes’, I replied. ‘It was okay’.
‘Only okay?’ she asked
‘I’m afraid so’ I confirmed.

So what went wrong after such a promising start? Well, the breakfast menu read well. An auspicious combination of continental mixed with traditional British heart stoppers. I choose the latter while my wife opted for the stuffed pancakes with mushrooms.

Mine first: Here’s how to make a very bad breakfast.
Choose very poor quality sausage that tastes like? well I’m not sure!
I gave my wife the sausage (she gave it back).
Cheap eggs that have no colour or flavour, and made me feel queasy for the rest of the day. Bacon that again had no taste - looked anaemic, (not bacon, as we know it). Toast, even that wasn’t right, something close to a slice from stale Baggett. Mushrooms, well you already know! Not cheap at £7.00
My wife never ate her pancake, but gave me her egg, (I gave it back - she immediately shoveled it back on to my plate -I dropped it from height back again!)
The bill including two coffees £15.00

Oh, I’m sorry. Here’s my take. Put Oldfield’s food in Café Rouge in Durham and you’ll have a winner. Visa-versa, put Café Rouge’s staff in Oldfields’ and the same applies.
My problem with Café Rouge is the quality of the food on the plate.
It looked and tasted cheap. I’m not sure where they source their food, but it’s not the same place as Oldfields. Perhaps on an evening things get better, they must because you can't get much worse!

(On reflection, that was a bit tough! I'm sure there's far worse!)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Oldfields Restaurant, Durham City

Never be put off by a name. Oldfields Restaurant or ‘Noted Eating Places’ seems to have borrowed a few good ideas from other people to offer a presentable restaurant in Durham City. There’s another restaurant in the chain somewhere in Newcastle, but we only review where we’ve eaten, so enough said. The sustainable locally sourced produce is an accepted must these days; Oldfields like to remind you at every corner all their ingredients are traceable. I commend them for this, but feel I’ve seen it delivered in an identical way somewhere else. That said, we visited the restaurant on a ‘happy hour’ special thingy - two courses for £10 and I have to admit I was impressed, no, I was very impressed!

My wife and I had the same starter- black pudding with poached egg (sadly, the egg wasn’t runny). It was all-okay and we washed it down with half a local brew that was good to see on the beer menu.

The main course followed in the way of bangers and mash for me with Yorkshire pudding and shin for her! There were two side extras £1.50
of mashed turnip/carrot and buttered greens. The turnip was great! the buttered greens, part hot and cold as only a microwave can do! In case this post is beginning to sound negative, I’m going to jump in with a great big positive word ‘FABULOUS’, okay, I’ll say it again FABULOUS! The bangers and mash in their onion gravy were delicious. We’re talking top quality sausage! We tried each other’s and I have to admit the shin was INCREDIBLE, tender soft, tasty (not over seasoned) just good meat well cooked. I love shin me!
By the time we’d finished, the restaurant was very busy. The 2 for £10 offer is a magnet, but include top quality food and the price seems ridiculously small. We really enjoyed it; I would happily have paid £10 for the main course alone, perhaps even more! The staff were young and nervous, but I suppose we all have to start somewhere! I suggest you start at Oldfields!