When you eat out often, it can take something really special to knock your socks off, but that’s exactly what our three course meal at Jesmond Dene House did last week. We were very kindly invited to try the new menu created by head chef Danny Parker, and to experience it in the recently refurbished restaurant and conservatory.
Disclaimer: We received a complimentary three course meal in return for a blog review. We paid for all fabulous pink cocktails ourselves.
I last ate at Jesmond Dene House on Mother’s Day last year, where we enjoyed a really nice Sunday dinner, but I mentioned it then that the dining room especially was in need of a bit of a revamp. Walking in last week after it’s makeover, I can safely say they really have done just that.
It’s much more modern, and in my personal opinion, fits a lot better with the overall atmosphere of the place. The previous look just didn’t do it justice, and after 15 years I’m so pleased they have brought it up to date, as it really is a beautiful venue.
The staff showed us to our table in the conservatory, right by the window for a lovely view overlooking the terrace and gardens. The interiors were worked on with local award winning interior designer Karen Walker, and they’ve created a gorgeous light space that really compliments the view outside. It’s sophisticated without being pretentious, and just has a relaxed atmosphere from the moment you sit down.
We were given the a la carte menu, which I’d spent most of the day reading and still couldn’t choose what to have. Danny Parker’s new menu isn’t a small one, it’s surprisingly big especially for a creative, fine dining option like this.
I often find choices are pretty limited, but that’s really not the case here. Kieran and I got into a small domestic over who should have what, agreeing to both get different things but arguing over who got the fishcake starter and the cod main.
To help me calm down after losing out on the fishcake starter, I got the fabulous Pink gin cocktail, and isn’t it fabulous?! It tasted as good as it looked too.
While we continued to browse the menu we were brought some fresh warm bread, and a choice of butters to enjoy along with our drinks. It was devoured very quickly.
To start Kieran had the fishcakes, and I had the Cantaloupe Melon with House Cured Duck Ham. I’ve never seen ham and melon presented so beautifully, and it was a significant upgrade on what you usually expect of this starter. The salty cured ham complimented the sweet taste of the melon, and the lemon dressing finished it off nicely.
Kieran loved the Salmon and Cod Fishcake too, and I enjoyed the big bite I made sure I got as well. Other options for starters include Brandy Cured Salmon with Garden Peas, Coconut and Lime, Beef Tartare with Wild Black Garlic and Toasted Brioche.
Choosing mains was just as tough, but Kieran got the Braised Shoulder of Beef with Triple Cooked Chips, and I got the Gigha Halibut with Wye Valley Asparagus, Cafe de Paris Butter, Brown Shrimps and Samphire. The beef was exactly what it sounds like, and absolutely unreal. I made sure I sampled it obviously, but the halibut really took me by surprise.
I have to be honest I don’t often order fish, as it isn’t always my favourite, but I’d seen photos online of this one and it looked so good it convinced me to go for it. I’m so glad I did because it was absolutely delicious, especially with the little shrimps and asparagus on the side. The flavour from the butter just completed it perfectly.
Other signature mains created by Danny and his team include, Parisian Gnocchi with Summer vegetables and Girolles with Herbs from the Garden, and Confit Duck Leg, with Braised Lentils, Morteau Sausage and Green Kale. Further meat dishes include a pork, chicken and a rib eye steak option, there’s another fish choice of cod, and Keens Cheddar Cheese Souffle, Leeks & Mushrooms for vegetarians.
One of the best selections and variety of dishes that I’ve seen on the same menu in a very long time, and the portion sizes are just as generous. You won’t be finishing up your meal thinking you could eat it all again, but please, whatever you do if you visit, leave some room for desert.
I wish I could say I had the willpower to decline before my holiday but I just couldn’t, so I went for one of the lighter options of Strawberry Mousse, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Macerated Strawberries & Ruby Chocolate. The chocolate was actually pink, and although again there was plenty on my plate it wasn’t overbearing or too much, so rounded off the meal nicely.
Kieran went for the Raspberry Cheesecake Sphere, Lemon Verbena Sorbet & Crisp Raspberry, which I didn’t even get a sniff of but he said it was amazing. Other options include Blueberry Tart, Citrus Creme Patisserie with Meadow Sweet Ice Cream, Pistachio, Almond & Chocolate Delice with Sour Cherry Ice Cream or Raspberry Cheesecake Sphere, Lemon Verbena Sorbet & Crisp Raspberry.
I haven’t listed every option as there are just so many, and all accompanied with multiple sides so if you want to browse the full menu take a look here.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed our whole evening, it was so nice to enjoy really delicious food in that beautiful environment, and the staff were superb too. I’ve followed Danny Parker for a while on social media, and you can tell by reading his tweets and the photos he shares that the dedication to the food, not only in presentation but most importantly in taste matters so much to him.
Combined with the restaurant makeover it made for a really lovely evening, perfect for a treat or occasion. I’d love to go back at Christmas, as I can imagine how festive it would be and you can never go wrong with incredible hot meals when it’s cold outside, and Kieran’s announced that he wants to try the Sunday roast. His beef was obviously that good.
When it comes to cost I’d say it’s mid range, you could keep it affordable with mains from £12.50, but it does have the potential to creep up in price with some of the meat dishes, deserts you won’t be able to resist, and fancy pink cocktails. There’s nothing off putting with that in my opinion, I’d expect nothing less for a restaurant of that standard and for food that good I wouldn’t mind paying it.
A huge thank you to Jesmond Dene House for having us.