Friday, 25 November 2011

Number 19 at The Close House Hotel, Heddon on the Wall - Best Sunday Lunch Campaign Review

Number 19 at The Close House Hotel, Heddon on the Wall
As we approached the entrance to the Close House Hotel, the location of Number 19, it was late afternoon and the low winter sun was just above tree level with a gentle mist starting to form. The beautiful half mile tree-lined driveway certainly gives an air of exclusivity to your arrival for Sunday Lunch. We parked in a car park full of very expensive cars and suddenly wondered if we had come under dressed for the occasion! As it happens we hadn't, the venue was relaxed and friendly, and without exageration absolutely stunning.

The approach to Number 19, which is a separate building entirely to the Close House Hotel, opens out to reveal an uninterupted view of the Tyne Valley. The low afternoon sun highlighted the forming mist in the Valley, giving it an ethereal glow. We stood and took in the glory of this view for a while and as we were a few minutes early had a walk around to the front of the building. You really couldn't ask for a better location, the flocks of starlings were in their pre-roost dance of murmuration above the surrounding fields which provided a magical natural spectacle. It was almost a shame to go inside, however one of the main strengths of Number 19 came in to play when we were seated at our table by the huge wall of glass - the glory of the valley was still perfectly on display from the inside, too.

Inside Number 19 the bar area and restaurant are split into two by the bar itself, with the restaurant area large enough to be used as a function room. The decor is modern and the chair covers gave the feel of an evening wedding function, if anything it felt a little on the corporate side. Perhaps the interior was left this way to provide a more plain backdrop to the amazing view, my gaze was continually drawn outside. We almost forgot we were there to eat! For our starters we chose the twice baked cheese souffle and the smooth chicken liver pate with a pear chutney. Both were of a very high standard although for the very generous portion of pate there wasn't quite enough bread for me. The pate itself was incredibly smooth and the pear chutney beautifully spiced, the mix of flavours were considered and well balanced, this is clearly a chef with a delicate hand. My dining partner enquired as the plates were cleared as to which cheeses had been used in the souffle, the waitress returned from the kitchen to let us know it was a Northumbrian Cheddar and a parmesan.

For our main course I chose the roast leg of Ingram Valley lamb and my dining partner the red onion tarte tatin. The dishes quickly arrived on extremely hot plates, so hot that the waitress couldn't pick up the dish from the tray she brought it out on. She fetched a serviette and quickly placed my main course in front of me.

There was again a very generous portion of lamb which included a large dark piece from the outside of the joint which didn't improve the presentation of the dish. It did however provide a good kick of flavour. The vegetables came in a bowl of their own, carrots, peas, boiled potatoes and braised red cabbage all simply cooked to allow the full flavour to shine. I don't think that my Yorkshire pudding was reflective of the standard that the restaurant usually delivers as we saw so many towering puddings go by. Mine was unfortunately smaller and still a little doughy in the middle, a real shame. I would also have liked a little more gravy but there were no staff around and I didn't want to leave my meal to go cold so I tucked in. The red onion tarte tatin was presented beautifully and was a light and welcome alternative to the standard roast.

After finishing our main courses we decided to end the meal there so that we could more easily compare the dining experience with the other three finalists. We eventually got a member of staff's attention to let them know we had finished and asked for the bill, which we paid at the bar. Two courses at Number 19 cost £15.95 and three courses £18.95, which was slightly more expensive than the published price on the website. A pint of lager cost £4.50.

A stunning location for a meal, simply breathtaking. An excellent use of local produce throughout the menu celebrated the best ingredients that Northumberland has to offer.

Highlight: You simply won't dine with a better view anywhere.
Lowlight: Service throughout the dining experience was a little sparse.

Contact Details
Close House Hotel
Heddon on the Wall
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE15 0HT
Sat Nav – NE41 8BL

TEL      01661 852255

1 comment:

  1. If you are still uncertain about this process then its probably a better idea to go down to your local mechanic or car body shop and offer one of the lads 20 pounds to fit the Number platesfor you. It should only take him half an hour and you will probably find that he will supply any new plastic caps or screws that may be required..