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 food. Its grand Sunday dinners are more like royal roasts and its main menu, available in its two AA rosette restaurant, is packed with local, seasonal produce, bursting with fresh flavour and inventive plates.
The Library Restaurant is one of the hotel’s grand dining rooms, with gorgeous views of its golf course and beyond. It’s an opulent, stately 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. We kicked back, bathing in the spring sunshine that streamed through the large windows, for a long-awaited weekend catch up.
Vino, spirits, beer, ale… go with what you fancy.
The focus here is on using the finest, locally-sourced ingredients, used in imaginative ways. Heroes on the brand new summer menu, which has been created by head chef, Paul Blakey, include asparagus (at its best now) and mackerel, done three ways. The new menu also features options from the grill, including the option of getting stuck into three curs of locally-sourced beef at once; fillet, rump and BBQ brisket with sweetcorn relish, deep-fried red onion and seasoned hand-cut chips. Delish.
What we ate
For starters, it was a game of two halves; the first brave and hearty and the second, lighter and fresher, perfect for summer. Meat-wise, we tried the wood pigeon and pig cheeks. We wouldn’t usually order pigeon (never the most appetising in our opinion), but what was served surprised us. Seared to perfection, leaving the outside gently charred, with tender, juicy meat. It arrived on a bed of creamy wild mushroom tortellini, doused in a punchy truffle and shallot vinaigrette, with deep-fried egg yolk for a touch of sunny indulgence. The pork cheeks had been slow-braised and melted in the mouth, served with a fragrant tomato and crayfish broth, which we happily slurped our way through, and a zingy ginger and lime salad. Our veggie chum couldn’t fault the ‘beetroot press’ – essentially goats cheese fondant, whipped ’til lighter-than-air, guacamole and pepper salsa on top of sourdough croutons. There’s also a perky ham and pea terrine on offer. Our mains were a total triumph; roasted rump of new season lamb with crispy pancetta, a green, healthy-looking dish of pan-seared sea trout (and a big, meaty fillet too) with seared scallops, as big as your fist, with asparagus, samphire and broad beans, slow-cooked blade of beef, with roasted, jammy, sticky onions, more truffle and oyster tempura for some crunch and, last but not least, pan-roasted pork, with spicy chorizo, pork belly wellington and sauerkraut for lots of tang. We couldn’t decide which one we loved the most. Desserts are fun and indulgent; pineapple upside down cake – a retro nod to many people’s school days – with scoops of coconut ice cream and lashings of dark rum syrup (this will have you dreaming of holidays), dark chocolate and espresso coffee cups, served with mini hazelnut praline biscuits for dunking, and panna cotta, infused with five spice, that’ll keep your tastebuds on their toes. Sweet, savoury and spicy, joined by dainty vanilla sponge fingers. Very unique and very, very tasty.
See the whole menu, with prices, here
For more information, or to book, visit matfenhall.com