Recently featured on Masterchef The Professionals (Wednesday 13th December 2017) this 2* Michelin restaurant is the only starred restaurant in County Durham – an area more noted for its areas of deprivation than luxury – footballers apart. It came across really well, with a supportive attitude towards the terrified contestants. By no means always the case.
We’ve been a few times – before its elevation to such heights. The first time, with friends, we stayed the night in their two (and only) bedrooms. Now we know we only live about twenty minutes away, but it was all part of the experience…
We had the full story from James’ dad about how the restaurant started, how the lone Michelin inspector kept returning before letting the chef into the secret. A few Michelin tips were passed on – the champagne bar arrived, “James is ready for you” rather than your table is ready etc. All very posh. So it’s not all about the food then.
We’re told that we’re honoured that James would be cooking our breakfast! So off to bed after a simply marvelous meal – razor clam, lamb and their own millionaires shortbread. We went up a little staircase behind the bar up to the bedrooms, and off to sleep. Our friends were up first for breakfast and, as they went downstairs through the bar, the alarm went off. Rapid retreat back upstairs and wait for absolutely ages whilst the alarm rang loud enough to wake the dead. We couldn’t move off the stairs! We rang and rang the restaurant number, but no one answered – of course not, we were the only ones there. After standing on the stairs for over half an hour a door between the bedrooms burst open and a bleary eyed James emerged. “sorry, I slept in…”
So, we finally got our Michelin bacon and scrambled eggs. The Raby Hunt has gone on to great things complete with chef’s table but, as nearly always inevitable, there’s a tasting menu only. We know it showcases their best dishes but what about thinking what we would like to eat, not just what they want to cook? A tough call, we know, but you can tire of unremitting excellence.