38 restaurants in Durham
Restaurants in Durham:
Croxdale Inn, Front Street East, Croxdale, Durham, DH6 5HX [Map]
Court Lane, Durham, DH1 3JS [Map]
An interesting mix of Asian cuisines characterises Zen, the menu offers a wide oriental choice, based on a fusion of authentic street and market foods as well as international favourites. Some of their specialities are crispy salt and pepper squid and King prawn; som tum salad; dim sum; wonton soup Zen twist; Mongolian beef and green curry.
The dishes are inspired by traditional recipes from Thailand, China, Vietnam and India; all are infused with a plethora of international and traditional flavours. Zen is set in the heart of historic Durham bringing a slice of eastern promise, with a contemporary feel, suitable for both the sophisticated and the casual diner.
17 Hallgarth Street, Durham, DH1 3AT [Map]
Probably the finest invention to ever come out of Spain is the tapas bar, that wonderfully informal form of eating, with lots of small and interesting dishes, eaten slowly with a delicious fino sherry or quickly if the need arises. The Americans may claim to have invented 'grazing' in restaurants, but the Spanish beat them to it by many hundreds of years.
The original El Coto is a good example of the breed and has become a much appreciated addition to the vibrant Newcastle eating out scene, so much so that they have opened this, their third, outlet in Durham.
The tapas are good value, and offer many of the traditional favourites like sweet and spicy peppers stuffed with black pudding, or albondigas - homemade lamb meatballs in a Spanish sauce - that are tasty and spicy, giving meat balls a good name!
There is a huge range of tapas dishes on offer, from the usual omelette through to the more unusual Boquerones con tomate 'aliñao' - unsalted anchovies and tomatoes with an olive oil, chopped garlic and parsley dressing; and offer bocadillos, sandwiches for non-Spanish speakers, at lunchtime. All this is served by pleasant members of staff, who will explain anything that you are not quite sure about.
No wonder that it is extremely popular with those who know and likely to remain so.
Forth House, Unit 6, Mandale Business Park, Belmont Industrial Estate, Durham, DH1 1TH [Map]
The Hide chain of cafés, bars, and grills pleases customers very effectively in the north east, and west Yorkshire. Their delicious, varied cuisine, contemporary interiors, informal yet attentive service, and relaxing atmospheres appeal to most people visiting a Hide.
Hide Out Café Bar is situated in the Mandale Business Park in Durham City, and urges customers to 'Eat in Eat out and Eat well' always. On offer are special teas and freshly brewed coffees, homemade snacks, sandwiches, soups, and daily dishes.
Breakfast time choices could include bacon, sausage, and fried egg sandwiches or full English breakfasts. There are continental style baguettes, jacket potatoes, mouth watering paninis, salads and pastas, and dishes such as chilli con carne and rice, homemade corned beef pies; hot roast pork sandwiches with apple sauce and a sage and onion stuffing; burgers, and fish and chips.
A small list of wine, beer and juice does not disappoint.
Unit 4 Walkergate, Durham, DH1 1SQ [Map]
For some time I made the mistake of thinking that no group of restaurants in the region of 200 locations could hope to maintain the quality for which I was looking.
Then one day I decided to put my prejudices to the test, walked into Oxford ASK Italian! and discovered that I could not have been more mistaken. Their claim to serve freshly prepared quality food in stylish and comfortable surroundings with friendly and efficient service proved to be absolutely spot on.
Since then I have also discovered that a degree of consistency seems to operate throughout their restaurants, and that certainly does take some achieving, implying a degree of management that is enviable. They are perfect places for an impromptu snack, a bit of culinary grazing, or the full works, and families are catered for particularly well.
Their trendy décor usually comprises tiled floors and black furniture with well set tables that sparkle with glass, silver and spotless linen. Ten starters include crostini and bruschetta, followed by a range of salads, pasta and al forno, oven baked pasta, some with chicken.
The pizzas are stone baked in the oven, creating a crisp, authentic and delicious flavour, and they all come topped with mozzarella and tomato. Calzone introduce a touch of opulence with a folded pizza baked in the oven and topped with garlic butter and melted grana padano, whilst inside expect to find chicken or a vegetarian mix.
Amongst the specials may I warmly, in every sense, recommend the polpette al forno, a popular Milanese dish of beef meatballs sautéed in garlic with fire roasted peppers, caramelised onions, chilli and pomodoro sauce, with penne pasta, topped with cheese and oven baked.
An enticing selection of desserts list banoffee pie and tiramisu amongst them, and the coffee tastes like coffee, which may sound banal, but I guess you know what I mean.
Thanks to a well selected wine list speculative drinking can offer handsome dividends, even with prices rarely crossing the £20 barrier.
Italian, Pizza & Pasta
Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL [Map]
Located in the heart of Durham on Palace Green, and conveniently near to the Music and Theology faculties, Almshouses attracts people from all walks of life, particularly a large number of students. Those in search of a quick cuppa in the morning and perhaps a soup or a salad will not go away disappointed, while the hearty eaters could settle for the smoked haddock and prawn pie with buttered spinach, or tagine of lamb and chickpeas with preserved lemon cous cous.
Move down further to choose between the Craster crab and rocket; Almshouses ham and Dijon mustard, or roast beef and horseradish rolls. The dessert list is well-chosen with apple, date and cinnamon strudel, and the gluten-free lemon polenta cake.
The atmosphere is quite informal and a self-service approach is emphasised. With the proprietor Eric Marrion's artwork adorning the walls, which is up for sale, Almshouses is a place where food, art and history meet in convivial surroundings.
Café, Casual, International
64 Sadler Street, Durham, DH1 3PG [Map]
Pizza Express remains a hugely popular bedrock of casual eating. Its popularity is testimony to the fact that across the country, they have restaurants where you will always be guaranteed a good nosh, with children's tastes being well catered for.
Pizza Express has gone even more Roman, and following the success of that particular example of listening to their public have introduced Romana pizzas, including the scorching Etna and the hearty Siciliana.
These pizzas are now thinner, bigger and crispier, and if that sounds like a marketing line, it is. However, unlike many such lines, this one is true, and their quality is always consistent, though cleverly they have still managed to retain a homemade feel to their pizzas.
As an alternative to pizza, try their pollo pesto - cavatappi pasta with torn chicken breast, mushrooms, red onions and mozzarella in a creamy gruyere, parmesan and pesto sauce and finished with grana padano - or the niçoise salad with mixed leaves, yellowfin tuna, free range egg, green beans, potatoes and tomatoes with olives, anchovies, capers and house dressing.
Many of the big chains have come a long way, and Pizza Express is certainly amongst them. One of the first to be quoted on the Stock Exchange - in 1993 - Pizza Express is not a franchise operation and retains tight control through its own staff.
Their wine list - though short - contains some surprisingly good offerings, especially their intense Australian Chardonnay, and a big, full-bodied Merlot from Cusumano, Sicilia.
Pizza & Pasta
The Avenue, Durham, DH1 4DX [Map]
Up and coming young chef Ashley Paynton is on a mission to wow the taste buds of North East England and has chosen the idyllic cathedral city of Durham from which to do it. I think it takes a bit of nerve to call your restaurant Gourmet Spot, but nerve or not, here is something new and interesting in Durham, that jewel of the north, once described as "one of the finest architectural experiences in Europe" and voted Best British City by readers of posh lifestyle magazine Condé Nast Traveller.
If one detects a certain El Bulli influence here you would be completely on track. Well, how's this for starters? Mustard ice cream and roasted pork belly with apple caviar; a touch of the Heston's perhaps? And how about roasted loin of venison, stilton royale, red wine salsify and smoked chocolate oil or even braised ox cheek with fillet of beef, smoked mash, Bourguignon garnish and purple mustard.
Don't misunderstand me. These are dishes that have been coated with a more verbal approach to presentation, are very edible indeed and have less mystery about them than you might at first think. They are fun, made mainly with quality local produce and are great conversation creators. Let me leave you with a dessert of butterscotch bavarois, pistachio and olive oil sponge with blood orange sorbet. Now if you think about that with an open mind a certain logic emerges - well I think so.
Within the restaurant a chic style is apparent, with plenty of red glitter walls combining quite well with dark wood and metal. It has a relaxed and modern feel and with just 24 covers will always be somewhere to get away from the crowds. It's perfect for special occasions and treats and has the added bonus that it is attached to a hotel so diners can easily retire to bed after enjoying a meal of the finest quality.
British, English, Modern British
60 Hope Street, Crook, Durham, DL15 9HU [Map]
Since El Greco literally translates as 'The Greek', this is a piece of information that will easily help you to decide what the menu is going to be about but wait here's some more trivia for the arty types. It's also the name of the renowned painter from the Renaissance era whose paintings are believed to contain some of the best known depictions of the sky in Western art.
At a more immediate level, equally exemplary work is displayed by the kitchen as evident in starters of sautéed mushrooms in cream sauce on toasted bread and prawn saganaki. Pay heed to delicious pasta and risotto courses like tagliatelle alle langoustine and alla cacciatore, while those with meaty fixations could try the pork escalope in white wine and fillet steak with cream and pepper sauce. Overall El Greco emphasises on comfort food and even the desserts follow suit with choices like tiramisu and freshly made cheesecake of the day with a variety of sauces.
Greek, Italian, Mediterranean
More restaurants in Durham:
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Café Rouge has over one hundred branches throughout Britain all offering a wide range of dishes drawn from the French cuisine. Slightly less than half their branches are in or close to London.
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