Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In Every Sense, Boyson's Tasteful

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In Every Sense, Boyson's Tasteful

Article excerpt

Byline: By Geoff Laws

Geoff Laws steps out, pudding on the Ritz.

There can't be a finer approach to the Boyson Restaurant than this.

Turning off the winding lane, we passed through impressive gates and swept up the curving drive, lined with magnificent beech trees towering above in a triumphal arch, drawing us on until at last we came upon Longhirst Hall near Morpeth.

The elegant faiade, one of Dobson's finest, has been tastefully added to and adapted, but his distinctive signature shines through.

Inside, there is an atmosphere of relaxed comfort, except in the Orangery Bar, which is an example of how Dobson's towering grandeur can be a little on the austere side if not handled carefully.

The height to breadth ratio of the room is unbalanced, with the ceiling almost touching the clouds but the floor space little more than a large living room. The proportions are accentuated by floor-to-ceiling windows covered with slatted wooden blinds, plus stark lighting, making the overall effect bleak.

Our dining room with its burnt orange and cream dAcor, was a more intimate affair. A grand piano in the corner with a grand pianist to match added to our evening's pleasure by running seamlessly through every old favourite and hit tune from the musicals a heart could desire.

It was all I could do not to join in and it was only the helpful kicked shin reminder that, when tempted, brought me to my senses.

Once seated, we settled to warmed bread rolls and chilled butter, always a challenge, and a first glass of wine. I had chosen a bottle of Mas Cabrial (pounds 13.50), a French Grenache that kept its promise of blackberry and cherry fruit flavours. A surprising peppery fizz at the end leaned gently into a warming afterglow. Its depth and richness made it an amiable companion to my meal.

My other companion had ordered broad bean, new potato and asparagus salad with Parma ham and watercress dressing to start. It was presented as a small tepee.

Half-moon potatoes and tiny cushions of broad beans nestled in the folds. The generous serving produced a momentary swither as to whether this was going to be manageable, before she decided it was. The only criticism to surface was that the watercress dressing was noticeable by its absence. The ingredients were fine but the dish lacked cohesion and needed a dressing to pull it together.

My roast field mushrooms on olive toast with melted Stilton was as rustic and rich as it sounded. Crisply toasted ciabatta cradled a mound of meaty mushrooms swathed in Stilton, oozing its distinctive creamy-salt flavour.

It's the kind of dish that lifts one's spirits on a damp autumn day.

Entrees came swiftly on their heels, as did another glass of the Grenache. The pianist treated us to his rendition of Lloyd Webber hits and I was taken back to the time we saw Phantom, so much so that the shin reminder came into play again. …

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