Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Battlesteads Hotel, Wark, Nr Hexham - Best Sunday Lunch Campaign Review

The Battlesteads Hotel, Wark, Nr Hexham
A beautifully clear and sunny Autumn day was perfect weather to enjoy the scenic drive out to the Village of Wark, the location of The Battlesteads Hotel and Restaurant. It's just a short drive from Hexham, a few miles North along the country lanes where we found The Battlesteads on the outskirts of an idyllic rural Village. The welcome we received from the staff behind the bar was just as warm and comfortable as the atmosphere inside, the bar area itself is full of character and very nicely presented.

We ordered drinks and then were given the option of sitting in the restaurant or the conservatory to dine. As it was such a fantastic day we opted for the bright and comfortable conservatory that looked out onto a lovely walled garden area. We watched the many birds fluttering about the garden, on and off the numerous feeders and commented on how wonderful the outside space would be in summer. We were given our menus by a very personable member of staff that we had a chat with for a few minutes. We talked about lack of mobile signal in the Village and how the Hotel has wireless broadband in the bar area, but the signal won't go through the thick stone walls and reach where we were sitting.

We knew from the large number of nominations we received that The Battlesteads grow their own vegetables, but it wasn't until we were there talking to the staff that we realised just how deep this commitment goes. All the salad, fruit and vegetables are grown on site and their care for the environment is literally second to none. Two days prior to our visit the Hotel had won a prestigious Responsible Tourism Award for being 'Best Accommodation for the Environment' beating competition from such giants of the industry as the Savoy in London and other major hotels around the world.

We chose from the extensive menu and ordered our starters which were the Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup and a Salad of Baked Squash, Prosciutto and Pecorino Cheese with a Balsamic Dressing. The starters arrived with a mixture of home-made bread presented on a slate with pieces of butter that were a little on the hard side. The presentation of the Salad of Baked Squash in particular was fantastic, the beautiful colours of the dish were matched by the delicate balance of flavours perfectly. My soup was piping hot, plentiful and full of hearty garlic flavour which went perfectly with the variety of bread.

There were plenty of choices for the main course other than the option of carvery which was nice to see, but we had to sample the traditional Sunday lunch. When we approached the carvery area we were greeted by a cheerful chef and four of the largest joints of meat you will ever see. Two of the joints were local beef, one cooked beautifully to medium, perfectly evenly pink throughout and the other was cooked 'well done'. What a brilliant idea this is, beef is usually only served well cooked through at a carvery and I've certainly never seen this option anywhere else before. The other joints on offer were a delicious looking turkey and roast pork with crackling and stuffing.

We both opted for the medium beef which was expertly carved, I had a mixture of this and the roast pork. The chef then talked us through the vegetables on offer which included duck fat roast potatoes, carrot and swede, broccoli and cauliflower cheese and pan fried sprouts with bacon. You could also help yourself to the giant Yorkshire puddings (or rather Geordie puddings, as I was corrected!) and were invited to come back and help ourselves to more should we wish to. There was then a member of staff by the gravy and sauces to explain what was available, I had some of the wonderful horseradish sauce to go with the beef.

There were plenty of staff in the restaurant, more than you would expect from an establishment of this size which made the service a joy to behold. We returned to our table and eagerly demolished the fantastic lunch that was before us. The meat was as tender as could be with a fullness of flavour to match, and the freshness of the vegetables shone through. This is precision cooking of the highest order and I honestly couldn't fault anything on the plate. After we had finished our main course we decided that we wouldn't be able to manage a dessert, we had seen several go by us and they did look lovely. We asked for the bill and with it came two small chocolates which we were told had been made by the owners wife, Dee. They were small chocolate cups covered in caramel and tiny edible gold stars, with an alcohol soaked cherry inside. They were so good that we asked if we would be able to buy half a dozen to take away with us. If the desserts are of the same standard as these chocolates then we really did miss out on a treat. We even overheard the table next to us discussing how fantastic the puddings are before they'd even ordered a starter! Our strange request for chocolates to take home was no problem at all and within minutes they were delivered in a beautiful wrapping to our table by Dee herself, who just asked that we make a donation to Children In Need rather than pay for them.

The price for this meal was £12.50 for two courses or £14.50 for three courses, with drinks being reasonably priced, particularly the Peroni.

An absolutely outstanding lunch in a restaurant that has an amazing ethos and commitment to local sourcing that goes well beyond the call of duty. Extremely friendly, knowledgeable and attentive staff made the whole meal a pleasurable experience.

Highlight: The stunningly tender beef and the freshness and flavour of the home-grown vegetables.
Lowlight: Not being able to fit in a dessert.

Contact Details
Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant
Wark on Tyne
nr Hexham
NE48 3LS

TEL (0)1434 230 209

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