Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Delicious Feast for a City Slicker

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Delicious Feast for a City Slicker

Article excerpt

Byline: By Geoff Laws

Geoff Laws goes where green wellies meet city slickers.

Great Whittington is one of the loveliest Northumbrian villages.

Beautiful stone cottages edge the road that threads its way through.

The only sign of something not quite right are the gardens ( far too clipped and manicured for proper farming families.

The Truman Show horticulture says that this is where city meets country, where the well-heeled swap Armani for Barbour and pull on the green wellies to get down to nature.

There's nothing nouvelle arrivA about the Queen's Head. This 17th Century coaching inn has seen all the comings and goings of village life.

Its mellow, stone walls have the classic proportions of rustic architecture: chunky, robust and welcoming. The restaurant took over where ostlery ended with the stables becoming the dining room.

Each party receives a warm welcome from the owner, Mr Scott. He clearly values the personal touch and carries this one step further by having met the lambs and cattle destined to become chops and steaks.

He proudly informed us that all the meat comes from local farms, with animals fed on as much good Northumberland grass as they can get. I liked the thought that my dinner had grazed the same fields I'd walked. There was already a common bond between us, which was about to become even closer.

The restaurant's dAcor has a traditional country kitchen theme. A large dresser displays various plates, with bits and bobs of rusticana dotted in between. A wonderfully weathered stone wall reminds you that this was once outside, and the cream and blue of the others go well enough. The table settings were fine, with polished glass and silverware, but the cloths were dreary. I got the sense that the room was weary and could do with livening up a little. Nothing brash. Maybe just white tablecloths would do it.

None of this makes the slightest difference to the bookings. Be warned, it is impossible to get a table here at weekends unless you book well in advance, and we were about to discover why. We decided a bottle of Shiraz cabernet from the Aldridge estate (is this Brian's new venture?) would do nicely, and it did. Rich berry flavours surfaced through the slightly tarry overlay and it had a rounded body reminiscent of a well-fed innkeeper.

I try to control the times I have scallops because they are a personal favourite. I need to ring the changes so you, dear reader, don't get bored with me banging on about how gorgeous or not they were.

This time I had no choice because Mr S insisted that these were the kings of king scallops and implied that it would be foolish not to have them ( so I did. The regal shellfish were accompanied by smoked bacon and a green bean salad with balsamic, herb dressing. …

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