Matfen Hall is one of Northumberland’s most-loved hotel, golf and spa destinations, but as we discover, it’s also a great spot for a bit of a Sunday feast. Its dreamy dinners are more like royal roasts, and its veggie options are just as impressive. Who knew?
Chowing down on Sundays mean you’ll be seated in The Library Restaurant – another of the hotel’s grand dining rooms with gorgeous views of the golf course and beyond. It’s an opulent space – large round tables draped in crisp white table cloths, glistening silverware, attentive (and impeccably dressed) waiting staff on hand at all times, Beethoven oozing from the stereo – but it’s relaxing, too. Bellies comfortably full, we happily kicked back with cups of coffee, bathing in the winter sun that streamed through the large windows, for a long-awaited weekend catch-up.
We couldn’t say no to a drive up to and around Northumberland, so settled on still water and a few post-meal shots of caffeine, but there’s plenty of fine wines (a glass of red and a few slabs of beef always goes down well, doesn’t it?), beer and spirits to choose from. All your usual players – take your pick.
As one of Northumberland’s most celebrated hotel, golf and spa destinations, we were quite surprised to discover just how good its Sunday dinner offering was. One of the tastiest, well-executed roasts we’ve had in quite a while. Traditional meaty dinners are served with a big Yorkshire pud, roast potatoes and all the trimmings, and everything served is locally-sourced – preferably from the Matfen Estate. We spotted a nice halibut option on the menu if fish is more your thing and, as we discovered, the chefs can also rustle up some mean vegetarian dishes. Enjoy three courses for a very reasonable £22.95.
Starters were light and zingy – just what you need to perk you up on an early Sunday afternoon. We went for the goats cheese salad – a crisp and simple bundle of peppery rocket, tossed with plump green and black olives, sun-blushed tomatoes for juicy sweetness, and a salty scattering of goats cheese. Our friend opted for a twist on the prawn cocktail; this time with delicate crayfish and velvety smoked salmon, smothered in a divine ‘pink sauce’ made with shallot, white wine vinegar, gherkins and herbs, and a few splashes of lemon. Really tasty. For mains, it had to be a beef dinner – the first of 2017. And what a plate it was, smothered in rich, velvety gravy made with real meat juices. The roast rib of Northumbrian beef arrived fat free and baby pink – just as it should – fringed with a lovely charred, smoky crust. Roasties were moist and fluffy, greens were fresh and crunchy, bathed in spoonfuls of hot butter, and the fluffy, fist-sized Yorkie was a thing of beauty. If it’d been acceptable to devour four of them, we would have. Our buddy, a vegetarian, was blessed (and we really mean blessed) with a comforting bowl of pea and parmesan risotto – a stand-out dish that blew our socks off. Creamy, cheesy, melty, oozy… cooked to perfection. Potentially the best risotto either of us have ever had. Desserts weren’t needed, but most definitely appreciated. After all, if you can’t indulge on Sundays, when can you? If, like us, you have a sweet tooth the size of the Taj Mahal, you’d be a fool not to try the rich, dark slabs of chocolate cake or dive in to the vanilla crème brûlée, joined by homemade, fresh-from-the-oven shortbread. Bloody gorgeous. We’ll be back for more soon.