Seaham’s main foodie spot is a sparkling example of a hotel restaurant done well. Near perfect, in fact. The kind of place that, in our opinion, could easily stand alone as an independent venue and draw in hungry crowds. We sat down one Wednesday evening to find a handful of well-dressed couples (some hotel guests, some passing visitors) enjoying intimate late suppers and chums clinking glasses in mid-week celebration.
Byron’s oozes opulence; sparkling golden chandeliers, plush velvet booths and a chic, sleek bar, reminiscent of the kind you find in the depths of cool Manhattan. Many hotel restaurants can lack decadence, but Seaham’s is pure luxury; dining here makes any night of the week feel special and it’s the perfect place to mark a special occasion. Dining after dark here is our favourite; you’re free to truly unwind, when the twinkling lighting dims and the atmosphere soothes.
Fine wines, great beer and one very, very tempting cocktail menu. Go short (the Treacle cocktail, which muddles whiskey with maple syrup, apple juice, brown sugar and bitters, taste divine this time of year), long (try a Lemon Pie for a sweet, citrusy hit that tastes like sunny limoncello), or give in to one of the bar’s ‘decadent’ drinks. We did – and didn’t look back. A couple of gingerbread and espresso martinis (£12 each) did the trick; gently sweet, spicy, rich and strong. Divine. If you’re giving alcohol a miss (saving yourself for Christmas perhaps), try one of their specially-created ‘drivers’ drinks’ – a rum-free mojitos, a punchy Virgin Mary or Seaham’s special lemonade maybe?
Led by head chef, Damian Broom, the restaurant has achieved a second AA rosette and has become a destination venue for North East diners keen to sample contemporary British cuisine, created and served with impressive skill and imagination. The kitchen is uber-committed to using and celebrating fresh, locally-sourced produce where possible and the team’s new tasting menu does just that – on there you’ll find everything from Whitby Bay crab to dry-aged beef, sourced less than 90 minutes away.
What we ate
We dined with a vegetarian chum, meaning we sampled goodies from two different tasting menus – double the culinary fun. The tasting menus will set you back £58 per person, but you’re treated to an impressive seven courses, plus ‘snacks’ to kick things off. For us, it was a mix of stunning seafood, fabulous fish, luscious lamb and the most beautiful beef – really top-notch ingredients. Our dining buddy was just as thrilled with their finds; heritage root veggies – carrot, parsnips and onions – paired with unusual, flamboyant flavours (carrot and coffee anyone?) that take the tastebuds on one very tasty rollercoaster. The journey started with ‘snacks’ – amuse-bouche beauties. Crisp chicken skin shards with a pumpkin-like puree for us and sharp cream cheese on a brandy snap-like boat for our friend, sprinkled in a generous flurry of parmesan. The rest blew us away; tender lamb, served blushing, with zesty cucumber, turnip and anchovies for tang, then roasted parsnip, covered in 36-month aged parmesan, with walnuts for crunch and caramelised milk to complement the sweetness of the vegetable. The carrots with coffee, oats and dill really surprised us – it’s a knockout combination that somehow works. Really warming and comforting – a bit like savoury breakfast oats. Our meaty chunk of monkfish was another hearty winner – and one of our favourite courses, paired with celeriac, earthy girolle mushrooms and a glossy chicken wing jus. Oh, and top marks for the beef – you get a good-sized slab, charred and succulent, glazed in a sweet bone marrow sauce with roasted root veg. Our chum’s stand-out was the braised pine nut and pumpkin seed mix, bathed in nutty brown butter, pine and roasted yeast for a slight cheesy aftertaste. The result? A smoky, woody, earthy bowl of goodness that tastes like autumn/winter. We ended with Duke of Wellington blue cheese (gorgeously strong and smelly – just how we like our cheese), smeared on crusty crackers, with a drizzle of honey and sprinkled with walnuts, before wolfing down our puds. We were served deliciously dark 70% chocolate – plain and simple – with splodges of salted caramel, biscuity crumbs and cooling buttermilk cream for a tiny bit of tartness. The whole experience kept us on the edge of our seats – in the most satisfying of ways. This way of eating is fun and exciting – and so worth the money. We left with full bellies (you don’t think you will, but you do) and big smiles – bravo Seaham for putting on such a tasty show. We urge all you foodies out there to book up now.