The County Hotel holds a grand position in Newcastle. Just opposite the Central Station, it has long been a gateway to the city.
Now in the hands of the Gainford Group, it is stepping up to make the most of its unique location.
The hotel is being re-vamped by the people who bring after-hours gloss and glamour to Newcastle in the shape of Bar Livello, Aveika and The Vermont Hotel and Aparthotel.
This collection of slick venues now adds to its number Hudson, the all-day eatery and cocktail bar that is the glamorous opening shot in the Gainford Group’s £8 million redevelopment of The County Hotel.
The feel is that of a deeply luxurious New York-inspired bar and restaurant.
There’s an old-school glamour to the place reflecting the heritage of the grand building – which is named after the great railway pioneer, George Hudson, giving a nod to the hotel’s location.
You can expect on-point, inspiring cocktails, sleek good looks and some posh nosh. It comes into its own after dark, when it turns intimate and twinkly and the DJ gets going.
In the bar you’ll find a contemporary twist on the big city cocktail bar look. Lots of muted mauve, mink and dusty grey.
In the restaurant clock the abundance of luxey booths and their glassy, mirrored walls. There’s also a hidden courtyard – who knew?
You can see your food being prepared in the kitchen which adds to the sense of occasion.
You really can’t say no to a cocktail here. The team prides itself on making them look and taste amazing. Go off-menu for a classic margarita (perfection) or get playful with ‘show’-stoppers, such as ‘Peanut Butter Coladas’ and ‘Lady Fizz’ (gin, strawberries, kiwi, lemon and bubbles) or house favourites like passionfruit-spiked mojitos.
We eschewed a dessert in favour of a previously-recommended pistachio espresso martinis (£7.50 – do try).
In terms of food in the restaurant, the menu is a something-for-all affair. Casual or as blow-out as you like.
Road-testing the menu we started with pan-fried scallops (£12.95); three seared chunky scallops which retained a soft translucency, joined by vanilla-cured salmon, mellow and sweet, with a touch of creamy butternut squash puree and a pop of a pansy flower for decoration.
The ‘seafood money bag’ (£6.95) was a pleasure on the plate. A flaky filo pastry parcel, filled to the brim with juicy king prawns, salmon and tender haddock, sitting on a stock-rich lobster bisque.
For main courses, lobster thermidor (£24.95) delivered up half a lobster and its meat-filled claw. Grilled with a brandy, gruyere and bisque sauce, it was rich and indulgent with its sweet, in-season, chunky lobster meat and came served with a pot of fries and salad.
Lemon-infused seabass (£17.95) was served with a light lemon cream sauce and accompanied by coconut and coriander roasted potatoes, cute as anything. Two fillets of fish were expertly cooked, the hint of lemon just right.
As mentioned, we passed on the pud this time – in favour of the liquid dessert of pistachio espresso martinis – that cocktail bar makes for a great place to finish a city-glamorous evening.