Food matches the surroundings for top Sunday treat
It’s certainly not an original observation, but with the nights drawing in and the cold, well, already here, there are few things finer than a Sunday lunch at a pub or restaurant.
Some may argue, and I would often agree, that a homemade meal offers more comfort and satisfaction, but there’s a certain luxury in not having to worry about how long the meat needs in the oven, or remembering to put the veg on to boil.
Many of the pubs and restaurants in north Northumberland offer a Sunday roast, indeed, a fair few have been reviewed in these very pages.
But for those who are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, or perhaps looking to impress that extra-special guests (or the in-laws in my case), it may be that the Dobson Restaurant in the grand surroundings of Linden Hall Hotel is the place.
Located a few minutes north of Longhorsley on the A697, the hotel is easily accessible from north or south, and diners are welcome to eat on Sundays in the afternoon or evenings.
For those not familiar with Linden Hall, it is a rather nice country hotel at the end of a very long drive. There are newer buildings that have extended the development, but the Dobson Restaurant is found in the old house.
And in keeping with this, the decor in the restaurant and indeed, the bar and reception area of the hotel, is traditional but it is nice and light and airy nonetheless.
One of the advantages with enjoying your Sunday in a hotel is that the service is very professional, with bread, wine and water all brought to your table and served as and when you need it.
The setting isn’t formidably formal, for lunch certainly, but for those who want it very casual, it possibly isn’t the place for you.
In fact, the only minor downer on our visit was that we were the only table in one room of the restaurant – we could hear noise from next door, but our room was just us four.
Having said that, we didn’t feel too exposed and the staff only came in when there was serving to be done.
Onto the food, and while the surroundings may be impressive, the prices are too and you are not paying through the nose for the hotel service.
The Sunday menu offers two courses for £15.50 or all three for £18.50, which I consider to be pretty decent, especially once I had tasted it.
Two of our party opted to go the whole hog and have starters, but of course, you can order starters and mains and then decide whether to add desert or not and be charged accordingly.
While those avoiding the starters cited the need to save room for dessert, I felt I made the right decision as the starters were not too large, just a good warm-up for the main event.
I chose the black pudding, which was served with a simple leaf salad and a mustard dressing.
While the dressing didn’t add much to the proceedings, the black pudding was great – warm and crumbly.
The other guest who plumped for a starter went for the prawn cocktail, which received a thumbs-up for the small prawns in a sauce which didn’t overpower the flavour of the fish.
The main course offered a choice of beef, pork, salmon or a vegetarian green pea risotto.
The other three went for the beef while I went for the pork.
I was reliably informed that the beef was a good choice, but I was pleased to be different as the pork came with a lovely edge of crackling while the meat was still tender and soft.
Both meats were served in very generous thick slices almost like steaks.
The gravy, of which extra was supplied in a jug, was meaty and tasty.
The roast potatoes and accompanying vegetables – a standard selection of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and beans – were also of a high quality.
But it was the desserts that really crowed the meal, especially considering they only add £3 if already having a starter.
Two chose the chocolate brownie, which came with a hazelnut ice cream. The brownie was good, but the ice cream was the star of the show.
Also on offer was an iced parfait with mixed berries, which also disappeared very quickly and offered a slightly lighter alternative to the others.
I went for the sticky toffee pudding, which was drenched in a rich but slightly bitter treacly toffee sauce, and it was delicious.
Two courses £15.50
Three courses £18.50
Black pudding with salad & dressing
Fishcake with caper mayonnaise
Soup of the day
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
Pan-fried fillet of salmon
Green pea risotto with rocket and parmesan salad
Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce
Iced parfait with seasonal berries
Chocolate brownie with hazelnut ice cream
Mixed ice cream
Despite the rather grand setting, the food is not fussy and pretentious nor is it particularly expensive. In fact, when taking advantage of the fact that three courses is very reasonably priced, it compares favourably with pubs in the area. The drinks do tend to hit the pocket a little more than your local although being a hotel there is an extensive wine selection.
Quality of food 9
Vegetarian choice 6
Use of local food 7
Value for money 8
Children catered for 6
Access for disabled 9
Toilet for disabled Yes
Overall experience 8.5
Verdict: Well-priced quality food with professional service.
Contact: 0844 879 9084 or visit www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-linden-hall-golf-country-club/
Dobson Restaurant, Linden Hall