The Hudson

I’m always on the lookout for new places to visit, especially if there is new food to try, so when I heard that the County Hotel in Newcastle was opening a new bar and restaurant I couldn’t wait to pay them a visit.

The promotional pictures on social media looked fantastic and the menu sounded very tempting so I suggested to Sian that we go one night after work for a few cocktails and a bite to eat.  Last week they had an offer on for 50% off all meals and drinks so it was the perfect time to try it out.

When we arrived I was really impressed with the look of the place.  From outside it looks quite grand and traditional, in keeping with the County and Vermont hotels.  Inside is just as chic, with a beautiful bar area leading through to the restaurant.  We were shown to a booth which had a private, luxurious feel to it.  The interiors have been well thought out and the overall look is very decadent but there is still a laid back feel.

Our waiter was really friendly and helpful and when I asked for their non alcoholic cocktail options he was happy to speak to the barman about various mocktails and even recommended one for me which was delicious! The menu is a relatively small selection of really good dishes.  There is something to suit everybody’s taste from the a la carte menu as well as a sophisticated selection of bar bites and even a breakfast menu.  Even though they don’t overwhelm you with too much choice I still found it difficult to decide what to have. I decided to go for the rolled goats cheese with asparagus, beetroot and chive salad while Sian went for the Hadrian beef carpaccio with horseradish cream, shallot and parsley oil.  I must admit we wolfed them down so fast that by the time the waiter came to ask if we were enjoying them we’d already finished! What can I say? We were hungry and they were delicious.

For drinks I stuck to mocktails as I was designated driver.  I forgot to get the name of the one I’d had as it was made by the barman and wasn’t actually on the menu but it was strawberry and passionfruit flavour so if any of you don’t want to drink alcohol, I would highly recommend it.  However, I was quite disappointed that I had the car because the actual cocktail menu looks fantastic with loads of drinks I wanted to try.  Sian chose a cocktail called ‘Colour of Gin’ which consisted of Star of Bombay Gin, lime, hudson homemade tonic and magic ice.  It changed colour when adding the tonic and looked pretty cool.  I did have a little sip and it tasted very summery and refreshing.

For the main course I was again undecided between the sea bass and the belly pork but I decided to go for the fish and Sian chose the pork so we could both see what the other dish was like.  I was really pleased with my choice, the sea bass was infused with lemon and accompanied by coconut & coriander roast potatoes, green beans and served with a delicious lemon cream.  It was absolutely amazing and just the right amount of food.  Sian’s main course was slow cooked belly pork with pan fried pork tenderloin, carrot texture, buttered mash potato and kale served with thyme jus.  It looked absolutely fantastic and both dishes were beautifully presented with edible flowers.

After the quality of the food for the starters and mains we couldn’t resist having a look at the dessert menu.  Sian decided to order the sticky toffee pudding with brandy snap tuile and vanilla ice cream while I decided to try the trio of desserts which consisted of double chocolate chip brownie, Paris brest and Lemon tart.  It was all so tasty but I particularly liked the Paris brest which was definitely worth the calories!

The staff were so attentive and friendly and made sure we were happy with all of our choices.  I think the entire dining experience was just lovely and you would never have guessed that they had only recently opened.  Some places can have teething problems for the first few weeks but everything here was perfect.

 

I will definitely be back to try some of the other dishes and I’d also like to try their Sunday dinner and breakfast menus.  Thanks for the staff for making us feel so welcome!

Cherry and Almond Crumble

There is nothing better than a delicious homemade dessert after a Sunday dinner and this one is perfect.  Nostalgic and retro but still delicious and so easy to make!

Ingredients 

800g pitted cherries (I use tinned pitted black cherries)

4tbsp sugar

1.5tsp cornflour

1tsp almond extract

Juice of half a lemon

For the Crumble 

120g plain flour

85g butter (cubed)

4 tbsp golden caster sugar

4 tbsp ground almonds

Flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.  Put the cherries in the pan with 50ml water and the sugar.  Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 mins.

Put the cornflour in a small bowl and stir in a couple of tablespoons of the juice from the cherries.  Stir until the cornflour is dissolved then add to the cherries and stir until combined.  The mixture will soon start to thicken up.  Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and almond essence and transfer to a baking dish.

For the crumble, blend the flour and butter together in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Fold in the sugar and ground almonds until everything is combined.

Sprinkle the mixture over the cherries and add the flaked almonds and bake for around 40 minutes until the cherries are bubbling and the crumble is starting to go golden.  Serve with custard or cream.

 

My Favourite Cafes and Coffee Shops

Holmeside Coffee

Situated in the centre of Sunderland, Holmeside has become one of the most popular coffee shops in the area.  These guys know their stuff when it comes to coffee, offering an extensive range of brewing methods.  As well as this, they have a delicious range of snacks and meals including avocado smash, pancakes, flat breads and even a bagel named after the village we live in. Love this!

 

Happy Organic

In the heart of Cleadon Village, this popular healthy cafe offers a huge range of delicious hot and cold drinks, smoothies and cocktails.  I personally love their Matcha green tea latte and pistachio cannoli.  Their food menu is full of delicious, healthy meals using fresh, colourful ingredients.  Keep a look out for their cocktails and tapas evenings with live entertainment.

No4 Cafe & Bistro

This is my happy place! Just a short walk from our house, this little cafe/bistro just makes me think ‘hygge’.  From the interiors, to the food, to the friendly staff, there is just something so cosy and comforting about this place.  We have visited several times since moving to Cleadon and I can highly recommend both the breakfast and the daytime menu.  This is really good quality food cooked well. I also love their little knitted teapot cosies and the fact that they light tea light candles on dull days to make the place feel warm and welcoming.

Laneways 

Another coffee specialist, these guys have got skills.  If Holmeside do the best flat white in Sunderland, then I have to say Laneways does the best flat white in Newcastle (IMO).  Last time I visited here I decided not to go with a coffee and had a chai tea instead and it did not disappoint, it was a perfect pick me up on a cold, rainy day.  Oh, and have I mentioned the dark chocolate brownies?  They just cram-packed of gooey deliciousness!  I love the simplicity of this place, the menu is small but less is definitely more in this place.  What they do, they do right!

Arch2

This is my most recent find and I am so pleased it has opened.  You can read more about it in my recent blog post.  If you haven’t visited yet, have a trip down to Ouseburn.  Whether it’s beer, coffee or cake you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.

Love Lily 

This adorable little cafe on the sea front at Roker is a cake lover’s dream.  Their extensive selection of cake changes daily and every one is homemade.  You really can tell that they are made fresh and a lot of thought goes into the flavours. The only downside is not being able to try them all! As well as cakes, they also do a great selection of sandwiches, breakfasts, lunches and snacks as well as hot and cold drinks and alcoholic beverages.  Living close to Love Lily is quite dangerous for me as it isn’t Slimming World friendly but every calorie is worth it!

Navaho 

Navaho in Jesmond has so much to offer but their drinks menu is well worth the visit.  My personal favourite is the rose latte, definitely the most instagramable coffee I’ve ever had and one of my all time favourite flavours! I also love the fact that they do healthy lunches and snacks.  The breakfasts are really good and the spinach omelette flatbread with hollandaise sauce was to die for! You will definitely have to visit more than once to try all of the delicious options on the menu.

Flat White Durham

I first visited Flat White on a trip to Durham on my 30th birthday.  I think I’d already had cake for breakfast but, hey, it was my birthday it’s only right to eat cake all day! I love the location of this quaint little coffee shop, tucked away in a quiet lane not far from the river.  It’s a lovely space to sit and relax.  As the name would suggest, they do a great flat white and beautiful homemade cakes to go with it.  Although it’s nice inside, I do like to wrap up and sit outside when it’s not raining as it’s just such a pretty little spot.

Cullercoats Coffee

This one is a bit of a drive out for us but it is definitely worth the trip.  Grant has visited a few times when he’s been working at home and had been telling me how nice it was so I had to try it out for myself.  This speaks volumes as Grant is very picky with his coffee but he was right. Not only is their coffee top notch but their food is great too.  I would highly recommend the burgers, they are absolutely delicious.  They even have a separate takeaway counter, in case you fancy sipping coffee whilst walking along the sea front.

Fausto

One of our most visited coffee shops as it is close to where we live and it’s dog friendly.  Grant absolutely loves their coffee but they also offer a good selection of lunches and snacks as well as beautiful cakes including vegan friendly and gluten free!  I do enjoy their flat white with a nice slice of their homemade chocolate tiffin. An added bonus is the lovely view of Roker Beach right outside!

Dill and the Bear

Another one that is a bit of a drive out for us but we still visit when we can.  This is such a cute little place with the added bonus of also being dog friendly.  They have an extensive range of drinks to keep you refreshed in the summer (I love to sit outside and people watch) and keep you cosy in winter.  Their food menu is great if you want a spot of lunch but my absolute favourites are the cakes.  They have a great selection but I can never resist their cake truffles.  Perfect with a coffee or a pot of tea.

BLK Coffee

I have only visited BLK once but I must admit I did love it.  It’s only small but it offers a great selection of coffee, friendly service and delicious cakes. This place brings back great memories for me as it’s where Grant and I went for half an hour of time to ourselves before I left to go to our wedding venue the day before we got married.  So it reminds me of the lovely calm before the craziness of the wedding build up.  I will definitely be back again.

Do you have any recommendations for good coffee shops in the region?  We are always looking for new places to try, and if they do good cake that’s always an added bonus!