Earlier this week I was invited along to Seaham Hall to sample a taster menu from their newly launched summer menu.
Our group was shown to the elegant Garden Room where we were welcomed with a glass of Taittinger Brut just to set the scene for the evening. This private dining room is available for hire if you have a special occasion or would like a little more privacy for your dinner instead of being in The Dining Room. You do get impressive views across the grounds and it was lovely to sit and watch the sky turn from blue through to pink over the course of the evening.
We had a few words from head chef, Damian Broom, who explained a little about what we’d be sampling and his passion for using the finest local ingredients. Six courses awaited and it wasn’t long before the first course of tasty canapés arrived.
Mackerel tart with caviar and green strawberries was fresh and full of flavour. It paired with the Brut perfectly. Our second canapé was chicken skin with smoked cod roll, heritage carrots and hazelnuts. It was lovely, the chicken skin was slightly salty but melted in your mouth and the hazelnuts added a nice crunch and texture.
Off to a great start, I eagerly awaited what was coming next – Masham Lamb cooked over embers, spenwood, raw peas and elderflower. The lamb was tender and cooked to perfection, with the skin crispy. Typically I wouldn’t order lamb but I really enjoyed this dish and the Sangiovese which paired with it was a lovely light red. I’m usually more of a full bodied rouge kinda gal, but this was really pleasant and drinkable.
Next up, one I was particularly excited about after reading the menu when we arrived – Wild Whitby sea trout, grilled cucumber, leftover buttermilk Douglas fir pine. Having recently spent a week in Italy and some of that time around Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast eating every form of seafood in sight, it was nice to have the chance to try a local catch closer to home.
The portion, whilst a little smaller than I would have perhaps expected, was divine. The trout was slightly warmed through and hadn’t lost any of the flavour it could have through being overcooked.
Wine pairing, Montagny le Cru was crisp and light to taste, but the slightly stronger aroma had me doubting how it would pair at first. I needn’t have worried as I washed down the glass with little effort.
Our last savoury dish was salt aged Thirkelby Duck, grilled hearts and a summer vegetable tart. I’ll be totally honest, Duck isn’t typically a meat I would order but the wine pairing of a Chateauneuf du Pape won me over. It’s a silky smooth wine, absolutely delicious (and I even had a second glass thanks to one of the designated drivers – thank you again!)
The duck was actually really tasty, it was tender, slightly pink and really full of flavour. I tried the grilled heart, as I do like to be open to trying different things and the smokiness to it made it feel a little like I was eating something barbecued. Taste wise, I didn’t dislike it but I think it was one of those moments where I knew I was eating a heart and that had more of an impact on how I felt about it. The summer vegetable tart offered a palette cleanse from the meat and was nice and light.
Moving on to our desserts we were taken back to Taittinger. My first taste of Taittinger Préstige Rosé opened me up to a whole new world of rosé champagne (and a club I want to be part of, it’s delicious) Sweet, crisp and bubbly; what more do you want? And pairs perfectly with the Bruce Strawberry Tart served with Vanilla Crema and aromatic herbs. The herbs really set this aside from your standard tart and it was a really pleasant dessert. I would have been happy to end our tasting menu here. But we were about to be treated to a second dessert… and more champagne…hic.
I’m kidding, no hiccups were experienced, but the final dessert needs a few words. Oakchurch raspberries, homemade yoghurt, wild roses and yesterday’s sourdough. To read it on a menu you might be unsure – not me – I love raspberries and would probably class them as my favourite fruit. The thought of adding yesterday’s sourdough to the dish seemed a little odd, unless we’re talking bread and butter pudding I wouldn’t know why a loaf would go anywhere near a dish like this.
I was proven wrong of course, as the crisp pieces of sourdough added a different texture to the dish and also means there’s less waste from the kitchen. If you hadn’t guessed already by the use of duck hearts, Damian is a fan of using all the animal and making the most of what they have available to adapt to the dishes. It does mean that the menu will vary frequently on what’s in season and available, to what the catch has been that day, but you’ll never doubt his creativity or the passion which comes across in every dish.
A final sip of Taittinger Nocturne and we were on our way home with full bellies, suitably watered with plenty of wines and memories of a really lovely evening.
Booking The Dining Room (and an exclusive offer)
You can book The Dining Room at Seaham Hall throughout the week from 6:30pm – 9.00pm Sunday to Thursday and until 9.30pm Friday and Saturday. Sunday lunch is served 12-3pm
Until 19 July if you quote ‘blogger event’ when booking a two course meal at The Dining Room, you’ll get your third course free. Hurry though, you’ve not got long to use this exclusive offer (and be sure to let me know what you order if you go!)
Have you experienced any tasting menus before?
Dinner and drinks were complimentary in exchange for this feature.