Saturday, 28 November 2015

Raby Hunt, Summerhouse, Darlington

We ate here in 2012, just after they had been awarded an apparently unexpected Michelin star. It's a meal that contained a dish of Lemon Sole that Mary stills tells people is her favourite of all the great dishes she has eaten in good restaurants. Three years on, their reputation seems to grow with every fresh review, and they've recently been placed very highly in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants. The menu structure has changed; we thought we'd go back and try the 5 course tasting menu lunch. Here's what we had:
Crispy Cod Skin with Aioli and Fennel

Jerusalem Artichoke with Venison Ragout

Raw Beef with Oyster Emulsion and Capers

Sea Bream with Spinach and Roe

Duck Breast with Crispy Kale, Cauliflower and Offal Ragout

Chocolate, Black Olive and Sheep's Milk Yoghurt

I might have missed the odd item from the description but I think I remembered most of it from the waiting staff's descriptions. I am not going to try to put into words the taste of each item - you would soon get bored with the lengthy stream of superlatives. I am not exaggerating when I say that every mouthful, with no exception at all, was a perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned delight. I can't say that about any other meal. When we saw the menu in the bar, Mary was not keen on the idea of a Yoghurt based dessert. We considered asking for an alternative, but after talking to the waitress decided to go with it. We're glad we did because it took us quite by surprise. It had an orangey tang to it, though apparently contained no orange, comprised a thick soft dark chocolate base, an olive crisp and a yoghurt ice cream. We heard it was a new dessert. I hope the other customers liked it as much as we did.

They have a very interesting tea and coffee menu, with an unusual filter method of making and serving it. The quality of the coffee we chose was exceptional, but we did have a small complaint about the service. This was very rapidly resolved in the most gracious way. The service throughout was exceptional, and the way they dealt with this could not have been better. 
Sometimes we go to restaurants and wonder why they haven't got a Michelin star (we have a few favourites where we think this). When we have meals like this, we know why. We are now wondering why this one doesn't have two.

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