North East Life Lunch - Hotel du Vin, Newcastle
PUBLISHED: 13:31 25 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:19 20 February 2013
Guests at the North East Life lunch were wowed by simple but effective food, writes Paul Mackenzie Photography by Andrew Smith
The print version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of North East Life
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North East Life Lunch Menu - Hotel du Vin, Newcastle
Cured on the shore smoked salmon with horseradish cream
New season asparagus with soft poached egg and hollandaise sauce
Confit belly pork of local pork with cabbage bacon, apple sauce and thyme jus
Beetroot risotto with toasted walnuts and gorgonzola
Cheese board of Northumberland nettle cheese, Northumberland oak smoked Durham camembert, Mordon blue
Hotel du Vin, Allan House, City Road, Newcastle, NE1 2BE. 0191 229 2200.
I could sit here eating quite happily until tomorrow morning. Chris Matthews spoke for us all as he pulled the cheese board back his way. He faced pretty tough competition though from the other guests at the North East Life lunch at Newcastles Hotel du Vin.
The cheese board tug of war was an entertaining climax to a delightful meal it is always a sign that the food is impressive when it brings silence to an otherwise chatty group but its surely even more impressive when they almost come to blows over the camembert.
The cheeses were all made locally which delighted guest Jane Hogan from food group Taste North East, and emphasised chef Ross Bootlands belief in the buy local message. We have so much good food in this area it would be silly not to source as much as we can locally, he said as she nodded her approval.
The belly pork for the main course was from a farm not far away too and 33-year-old Ross added: The message that fresh is best was drilled in to me from when I started in kitchens when I was 15.
Ross, who is originally from just over the border in Peebles, doesnt believe in over-complicating things, either good food, cooked simply is the order of the day here.
Im not one of those chefs who makes lots of fancy stuff, he added. The food we do is very, very simple. If the ingredients are good they should talk for themselves. And we source as much local produce as we possibly can.
That doesnt mean to say its not impressive though, as the contented hush which fell over the room as the starters arrived testified. Not to mention the near-fisticuffs over the cheese board.
The vegetarian main course was a garishly pink beetroot risotto the last time I saw anything that colour on a plate it was the pudding at a childrens party but this was proper grown up food.
Ross a head chef since he was just 25 has been in the kitchens at Hotel Du Vin for the last two years but before that he was building a reputation and winning awards in Edinburgh and has worked with Roy Brett, the former head chef at Rick Steins restaurant in Cornwall.
Ross has a particular passion for seafood, which came across in the seaweed-smoked salmon starter. Not many people do it that way but it really tastes brilliant, he said. From being very young I was always going to the beach and I was interested in seafood. I am one of the few chefs in the group who has a lot of autonomy on the menu and come summer we like to have more fish on the menu.
I have won awards at restaurants I have worked at in the past and I like to think we will do that here before too long.
Saskia Droz, the half Swiss/half Finnish general manager, would also like the hotel to develop a reputation for homeliness. She started work at HDHDV last summer and said: This is a very welcoming city and the people here are very friendly and open and Id like the hotel to be an extension of that. We are seen as a place to come and celebrate and to get dressed up for and I would like to see people start to see us as a place where they can rock up at any time and feel at home.