Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Good Way to Spice Things Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Good Way to Spice Things Up

Article excerpt

Byline: LIZ LAMB

TABLE FOR 2 LIZ LAMB West Park Cafe, West Park Village, Darlington IF you want more romance in your life, then a cosy meal for two at a plush restaurant is a great way to spice things up. There's nothing quite like fine wine, tasty food and some good old-fashioned conversation to attract amorous attention from your beloved and if you can find an intimate venue for your date then you're on to a winner. This is how I found myself at the West Park Cafe in Darlington.

After a busy few weeks apart, my partner Dan and I decided to spend some quality time together and treat ourselves to a "date night".

But where to go? We wanted somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre with a menu that wouldn't cost the earth (there is nothing like a row over money to kill the mood).

Friends recommended West Park, which is on the outskirts of Darlin ton and only a short drive from the A1(M). It's in the West Park village, which has a pub, supermarket and a hairdressers amongst a modern housing estate.

Though it calls itself a cafe, West Park is more a relaxed restaurant, and boasts Alex Doughty as head chef. The 33-year-old worked as a sous chef under Terry Laybourne at Cafe 21 for six years before heading back to his home town.

We arrived at around 8pm on a Friday evening and were greeted with a smile and a friendly "hello" as soon as we entered the eaterie.

The restaurant has a modern interior with large floor-to-ceiling windows around the circumference so you can sit and watch the world go by if you desire ... great for long, lazy weekends.

My partner and I were pleased to see that the tables were well spaced out so there was no fear that anyone could overhear our conversation or that we would encroach on others, which is always an annoyance when dining out.

We found a quiet spot in the corner and were promptly served with a bottle of our chosen Pinot Grigio as we surveyed the menu. The waitress was helpful when we enquired about some of the offerings and left us alone while we deliberated over the choices.

There were plenty of dishes to choose from and for starters I opted for buttered new potatoes with Parma ham and melted Tallegio cheese (pounds 6.95) while Dan chose the meze plate (pounds 7.95).

When they arrived, the meze turned out to be a real feast with servings of hummus, tzatziki, slowroasted tomatoes, olives, charred vegetables and pitta bread. Dan delved right in and scooped the dips on to his bread and straight into his mouth.

He stopped occasionally to feed me some of his food which was great fun. My starter was just as pleasing. The potatoes were soft and fluffy and drenched in butter while the melted Tallegio cheese married well with the slices of Parma ham.

It was a great start to our evening out. …

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