REVIEW: The Garden House Inn, Durham

Posted on May 11th 2017 by Whats on Northeast

Words and Photography: Laura Brown for Proper Scrumptious

The Garden House Inn just up the road from Durham train station has been the latest restaurant I’d heard people buzzing about. So I’d been eager to go for a short while now. And dare I say… My new favourite Durham eatery? I just might.

The Garden House Inn is a cosy and welcoming old-style pub. From the whispers about how good it was and knowing that it was former 21 Group Chef, Ruari Mackay, I expected something fancier. Although, I’m so pleased it wasn’t. I adore a good, proper pub, especially one with dim lights, dark wood and a real fire. A pleasant surprise.

What was even more pleasant was the food. As I do before I eat anywhere, I’d been dribbling over the menu on their website for hours, so I knew my order off by heart before we even got to the venue. The Garden House Inn also offer a strong selection of beers and lager. I decided on a steady pint of Peroni whilst designated driver Dan had to settle for a diet-coke. He’s a good egg.

We were also brought warm wholemeal bread with a chunk of butter and a side dip of olive oil and a sweet drizzle of vinaigrette. The bread was soft and tasty, and the olive oil dressing was an absolute delight. Always a cracking start to the meal.

To start, I ordered the Beetroot Tartare with Smoked Goats Cheese on Toast. The strong and smoky cheese was smooth and balanced out perfectly by the bittersweet tartare; a truly scrumptious combination, especially on crusty slices of white bread. Daniel ordered his starter from the specials menu: skewers of chicken, chorizo and asparagus, a simple, yet beautifully seasoned dish. The chorizo was meaty and potent – just how it should be. The portions were a cracking size too, especially those chunks of chorizo.

By this point, I was fully aware I’d overdone it on the pre-meal bread. Shock. On to the mains… I’m a big fan or seafood and fish dishes. And, did you know I like a good bit of spice too? Don’t know if I’d ever mentioned it before, that’s all… I spotted the Monkfish with Nduja on the menu and there was no doubt this was going to be part of my order. I was so looking forward to it, yet on being presented with the menus when we arrived, the Monkfish had been replaced with John Dory.

Absolutely champion! My all-time favourite kind of fish. I fell in love with it when we stayed in a small Croatian fishing village outside of Dubrovnik, called Cavtat. I’d always seen it on cookery shows and such, but it’s really rather rare to find on a menu. I was overjoyed and even more so looking forward to the main event.

It did not disappoint. The fish crumbled and made the perfect partner for the spicy Nduja sausage meat. It came with roasted new potatoes and a light dressing of garlic crème fraiche. The potatoes were crisp on the outside and perfectly fluffy on the inside and the dressing was ideal to soften the harsh kick from the dish. You know that feeling you get when you made an absolutely banging meal choice? Yep, that.

Dan opted for the Garden House Cheese Burger. It was a monster. It came with, of course, cheese and a topping of crispy bacon. I had a try of the patty and it was rich and seasoned. It was also accompanied by fries and a homemade purple slaw, which was absolutely divine! Dan never left a scrap, so there you go. Trust me, he knows his burgers, and he seemed chuffed.

Full and bloated yet immensely happy, we rolled to the car, sacking off our planned cinema trip. The staff were attentive and completely lovely, as well as the food being nicely timed and obviously beautifully presented, there isn’t anything I could fault. Apart from the fact I couldn’t fit in a dessert?

Apparently, these guys do a smashing Sunday lunch too – so I’ll definitely be heading back. I’ll let you know what it’s like. The Garden House Inn is a diamond and the entire menu is impressive, most definitely something for all kinds of tastebuds. Take a look for yourself here. I genuinely think this place tops my list of restaurants in Durham, and there’s some bloody good restaurants in Durham.

Find out more about the Garden House Inn by clicking here and see more of Laura’s photos from the meal below.

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