Friday 23 May 2014

Foodie Friday - A Review Of The South Causey Inn, Stanley, Co Durham

Your probably already sick of hearing this, but last week I celebrated my birthday :) Over the course of the week I had a number of different celebrations with friends and different members of my family. Last Tuesday though I went out for a meal with one of my besties Dawn. She is one of the most considerate people ever when it comes to finding somewhere for us to eat, she always checks out menus, to make sure that there is something that little old veggie and gluten free me can eat.

Thankfully it's getting easier and restaurants both independent and chain seem to be more aware and more willing to cater for people with differing dietary requirements. We've found some decent places in the past but for my birthday meal this year, we decided to return to the place we went to last year - The South Causey Inn, which isn't too far away from me.

Purchased by the current owners in 1976 South Causey Farm as it was then known, was purchased as exactly that a farm but over the years it's expanded into an equestrian centre, an outdoor activity centre, a riding school, bars, a hotel, restaurant,and function rooms all set on 100 acres of land in the County Durham countryside. The inn won the Great British Pub Award Best Family Pub Award in 2013.

We started our visit with a little walk in the landscaped grounds. It's great for kids as there are loads of animals to meet and greet including, sheep, geese, donkeys, alpacas and obviously horses - notice Dawn's artistic photo of a goose :)

The grounds are just made for summer and there loads of gazebos and picnic tables outside, perfect for summer drinks.

The weather wasn't that great though so we headed inside - last year we were seated in the Restaurant area which is bright and airy but alas this year it was full so despite booking we ended up in an area known as the snug. Alas it was just too dark to take a picture but it was quite different to the main restaurant. It was very rustic with equestrian and farming equipment and memorabilia on the walls. It was furnished with several rustic wooden tables and chairs, as well as comfy chairs and sofas, and the traditional stools at the bar. The room was dominated by a huge roaring log fire. This room would be perfect for a hot toddy or mulled wine on a cold winters night but for me it wasn't the best setting for a meal between too friends on a spring evening. It was a little bit too dark and it felt almost squashed, plus I stunk of bonfire - open fire look great but they don't half make your clothes stink.

So onto the food, the South Causey menu is pretty substantial and throughout the day you can order breakfasts, lunches and afternoon tea, as ours was an evening visit we ordered from the main menu, which includes a separate vegetarian and coeliac menu. The choice is first class, and they have a real emphasis on local produce. Since the meals were so large last year we skipped starters and went straight for mains - Dawn isn't a vegetarian but she went for the Chefs Homemade Roasted Vegetable Lasagne with roasted vegetables and topped with a white b├ęchamel sauce, slow baked in the oven and topped with goats cheese & feta cheese, which came with a side salad a choice and chips, or potatoes. Whilst nothing can beat last years meal in her eyes, she described this as one of the nicest vegetable lasagne she'd ever had.

Me bad ! I didn't take a picture of he main and I didn't think to take a picture of mine till I'd eaten some of it eek! I went for the Roasted Goats Cheese & Braised Fig Salad. It was huge! I got a massive plate, filled with salad and topped with a mound of goats cheese and a few braised figs, as well as small dishes of coleslaw, olives and something which I think was roasted pepper mayonnaise. It was also served with a huge slice of toasted rustic bread, and a huge pat of butter. I didn't ask for it to be coeliac but they do usually provide gluten free bread on request.

The meals themselves were first class, you got plenty and the quality was really good. We struggled towards the end a bit but we still fancied a pudding. Again their dessert menu is really substantial and everything sounded amazing so it was hard to choose - In the end I went for the Lemon Curd Creme Brulee which came with a chocolate dipped strawberry and a brandy snap basket filled with chocolate cream. It was soooo good x I only wish that the Creme Brulee had been a little bit bigger.

Dawn had the Duo Chocolate Slab Filled Parfait - One with Malteser and One with Tia Maria and Raspberry, which was served with raspberry, mint, vanilla cream and a raspberry coulis. We weren't quite sure what to expect but she got two huge, solid chocolatey slabs that tasted like a combination of maltesers and raspberries. It was amazing but it was so rich and huge that she couldn't finish it, and despite having a few amazing spoonfuls neither could I, so the waitress wrapped it up for her to take home.

The bill came to around £37 for both of us which included 3 glasses of Diet Coke, I personally think that it was pretty good value for money, the portion sizes were excellent and the food quality was first class.

That said our experience this time probably wasn't as positive as last years, the room wasn't really what we wanted and because they seemed to be busy with a full restaurant and a private party, the service did seem to be a bit slower and a bit more lax than we would have liked.

That said I will be back and it's somewhere I would definitely recommend if your in the area or visiting any of the local attractions such as the Tanfield Railway or Beamish Museum. If you are booking though make sure you ask for a table in the restaurant unless you fancy a more, intimate cosy setting. You can find out more about The South Causey Inn here

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