The Raby Hunt Restaurant & Rooms
Wed to Sat only: 12-2pm 6-9.30pm
***NORTH EAST RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR 2013***
***BEST FINE DINING 2013***
This place is no flash in the frying pan.
Even though James Close is virtually self-taught, and has only been cooking for a few years, his food is confident, passionate, flawless. That’s why his Michelin star was renewed last month, still the only one in the North East, and why he has won our 2013 North East Restaurant of the Year and Best Fine Dining awards.
James is constantly experimenting and improving. I first reviewed The Raby Hunt earlier in the year, and although I was very impressed, and gave it a rare 6 star accolade, I did report the odd weakness.
A few weeks ago Mrs Diner and I returned to Darlington for lunch (it’s only half an hour away on the train), and James had bothered to sort my specific niggles. The aioli on the cod skins had been strengthened; the bread was better.
There were exciting new treats: squab legs marinated in miso, an immaculate amuse-geule with crab and crisp Jerusalem artichoke, a tiny piece of melting pork shoulder on smooth quince purée.
We had duck with fennel and salsify, hare with artichoke, razor clams, and lemon thyme brûlée with mulled fruit.
My favourite dish last time, eel-wrapped rolls of goose liver with blobs of cherry coulis and tiny beetroot meringues, was still awe-inspiring.
We drank Bernhard Huber’s Malterdinger Spätburgunder, one of Germany’s finest Pinot Noirs.
We also drank delicious Siraume Umeshu plum-infused sake and had earthy Sumatran coffee made in a Chemex.
This was an outstanding lunch – 12 plates in all for £47.50, plus quite a lot for the drinks – which confirmed The Raby Hunt as worthy winner of the Secret Diner's 2013 North East Restaurant of the Year.
[You can read reviews of all the winners in the
2013 SECRET DINER AWARDS HERE]