Restaurant review - Wellington Restaurant, Wynyard Hall
PUBLISHED: 18:06 04 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:49 20 February 2013
Andrew Smith follows in the footsteps of kings, queens and prime ministers to dine out regally at the Wellington Restaurant, Wynyard Hall
The print version of this article appeared in the August 2011 issue of North East Life
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Many hotels and restaurants make claim that the service they provide offers guests the chance to live like a king. Few, however, have the pedigree or history to support their Royal aspirations quite as legitimately as Wynyard Hall.
For as you sweep through acres of manicured lawns to arrive at the imposing columned portico of this elegant 19th century hall, you are indeed following in the path of kings and queens.
King Edward Vll and King George Vl both stayed at Wynyard, as did our own Queen Elizabeth ll as the young Princess Elizabeth, in 1947. Prime Ministers Benjamin Disraeli, Sir Winston Chuchill and Harold Macmillan were entertained at Wynyard by several Marquises of Londonderry when the hall was their family home, and the long list of distinguished visitors also includes Charles Dickens and Sir Robert Peel.
Now under the proud ownership of Sir John Hall, creator of the MetroCentre and former chairman and life president of Newcastle United, Wynyard retains the sumptuous elegance befitting its status of a house fit for Royal occupation. The Duke of Kent was welcomed to his home by Sir John only last October.
Through the magnificent hallway, diners at Wynyard are guided to the Wellington Restaurant, offering another opportunity for regal name-dropping. For the restaurant is named after the Duke of Wellington, another regular visitor after being one of the first guests of the Londonderrys in 1827, shortly after the halls completion a year earlier, a visit commemorated by a 39m-high obelisk that stands in the halls parkland today.
One can only imagine the occasions witnessed over almost two centuries by this beautiful dining room, with its high ceiling, ornate coving, dusky crimson wallcovering, open fireplaces and huge bay window, through which natural light floods into the room.
So the setting, the history and the ambience of Wynyard puts everything in place to enjoy an evening meal fit for a king. But what about the food? Does it meet the Royal standard? Never having eaten with a monarch, I cant know for sure, but what I can say is that the meal my wife and I enjoyed was as good as anything weve experienced.
I chose from the days Market Menu, a description veering rather too close to bargain or even trade and one Id consider changing if I was in charge. For the choice, quality and presentation of the food is anything but market standard, matching if not eclipsing the offerings on the a-la-carte menu, which my wife selected. Our meal began with warm bread and complimentary canaps, including risotto, breaded chicken, olives and quail eggs.
My three market courses for 32 comprised a starter of pan fried sea bass with warm cockle and vegetable la grecque, a delicious serving of the tiniest fried vegetables imaginable. Just salty enough to evoke the aura of the sea, it was delicious.
My wife started with seared scallops accompanied by pork crubeens, celeriac and truffle and an apple fluid gel - a first for her but not the last, she promised.
For my main course I had the choice of pork, smoked haddock, chicken or hake. I chose the pork, pan roasted and almost crispy on the outside but meltingly soft when cut into, accompanied by sweetcorn, chorizo and leek and thyme salad. The combination of flavours was incredibly beautiful and not easily described.
My wife had lamb served as saddle of lamb, lamb kidneys and a small lamb shepherds pie accompanied by garden patch vegetables and eucalyptus jus. Another great choice, she enthused.
The market desserts included two straight from the main menu and two others. The chocolate dish, comprising warm, soft-centred milk chocolate, dark chocolate crumbs and griottine cherries was the very best pudding I have ever tasted! Not a word of a lie. If you go, have it. Have three.
My wifes mille feuille of raspberry, mascarphone parfait and lemon marshmallow was beautiful and refreshing. But, oh, nothing could beat the chocolate.
The Wynyard experience is not just about fine dining, however. The restaurant staff are attentive and charming and give the impression that service comes from a happy and united team.
Manager Gilmar Ribeiro has been at Wynyard for six months, having previously worked for five years at the Savoy and most recently seven years at the Dorchester. He walks the room frequently and inquires of every guest how they are enjoying their meal. It is how we do our research, he says. We want to make sure that we are giving the very best and the feedback we gain from our customers is vital.
Our principal waitress, Jessica Boyd, lives locally in Wolviston and has worked at Wynyard for three years during holidays while completing her degree in English Literature and History at York University. Having graduated, she now intends to work in the restaurant for a year before training as a teacher. We all enjoy working here, she said. We have a great team and the people who come into the restaurant are nearly all very nice. Everybody wants to do their best for the guests.
We finished with coffee and petits fours. The bill, including water and two medium glasses of wine, came to just under 100 making it a treat for most household budgets but an absolute bargain in terms of quality, location and service. Im already saving up for the next time.
You can enjoy a steak night at the Wellington Restaurant, Wynyard Hall, on Sundays and Mondays for 17.50 per person including a free bottle of wine between two.
Dine to the accompaniment of soothing jazz in the Wellington Restaurant on Thursday evenings.
From midday to 9pm, a selection of tapas, sandwiches, salads and summer desserts is available on the Wynyard Hall Terrace.
And there is big demand for Sunday Lunch in the Wellington Restaurant and Afternoon Tea, served daily in the Library and other public areas.
To place a reservation, phone 01740 644811.