Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Truly Happy Experience

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Truly Happy Experience

Article excerpt

Byline: By Geoff Laws

Some restaurants are for those "I can't be bothered to cook" nights, some for a treat and others for special occasions.

Horton Grange near Ponteland is in the last category. The setting is gracious and the food is great.

The menu lists seven dishes for each course in blessedly simple terms. The reality speaks for itself and the language is haute cuisine.

To match the occasion, my companion had very grown-up shoes on. The height of her heels meant I was chauffeur. She was dropped off at the door, to avoid teetering across the stony car park, and, by the time I arrived, was happily settled on a sofa sipping a glass of tonic.

Needless to say, her choices had already been made, but with such a broad menu, there was plenty left for me.

In the elegant dining room I was introduced to my roast pigeon starter. The rich, livery meat was amply matched by sweet squash mash, with a tickle of ginger in the pickle. A fruity beetroot jus added another dimension to this superb dish and a satisfied grin to my face. Milady had the same happy look. Her sun-dried tomato risotto with goats' cheese and rocket was a beautifully balanced dish. The pearly, creamy rice was threaded with warm tomato juices, allowing the pungent hit of the cheese to flourish. What a great start, and it went on. My woodland mushroom and vegetable Wellington would have delighted the booted duke himself. Buttery pastry rolled round a mix of herby vegetables, holding them in a savoury log. A red wine butter sauce gave extra moisture and richness, making this a substantial dish.

My companion had chosen her favourite fish, halibut. The Blanche Dubois of the sea had relied on the kindness of the chef and he had done her proud, coating her in sesame seeds and cooking her delicately. The only accessories this sweet fish needed were the demi-crunch of pak choi and red pepper, and the lightest tomato sauce imaginable. …

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