As someone not particularly familiar with the area, it can be difficult offering up recommendations to people visiting Durham. It doesn’t have the selection of restaurants that Newcastle is blessed with, although there is extensive redevelopment work happening in the city centre at the moment to accommodate its growing student population. If I was asked to suggest a place for a family meal other than Ramside Hall’s famous Rib Room, I would have struggled until now.
I was invited along to try out the menu at Collage, the in-house restaurant of the Radisson Blu Hotel. Located on the banks of the river, this four-star hotel is encouraging non-residents to pop in and sample the menu which features British classics such as Smoked Haddock Kedegree, an All Day Breakfast and Smoked Salmon Fishcakes.
Taking along my Dad and the Teen, having browsed the menu ahead of time I could already predict what they were going to choose from the selection. I was less certain of what was on offer for me as a vegan, however. The menu did state that if you had dietary requirements that information could be provided, and our waitress was armed with information as we sat down to a glass of something fizzy when we arrived as to what my options were.
The Teen was definitive on trying out the Beer Battered Fish & Chips (£14), even though he’d eaten fish at school on the same day. My Dad opted for Slow-Roast Pork Belly (£15), which was served on a bed of apple puree and mash.
My Dad was full of praise for his dish which was promptly demolished. He said the meat was melt in the mouth and that he enjoyed the accompaniments.
Amongst the choices of mains for myself was the vegetarian Chickpea and Kidney Bean Burger. I decided against ordering this as I find burgers are something we are always offered. It would have also had to be served without the brioche to make it vegan, which I found a little disappointing. It isn’t really a burger without a bun, right? I was hoping to try out the Roast Spiced Cauliflower, but unfortunately this was marinated in yoghurt as part of the process and was therefore unsuitable.
I was given the choice of two risottos – Butternut Squash (£12) or Mushroom. I settled on the squash variety for something a little different. This was featured on the menu and it was served minus the poached egg for me. I felt the portion seemed small when it arrived, but it was actually quite filling.
My Dad decided he was going to pass on dessert, while the Teen was adamant he was going for a Baked Vanilla Cheesecake. It is his favourite dessert and he gave Collage’s the thumbs up.
Pudding for me was the anticpated sorbet, but our waitress recommended I paired this with one of her personal favourites from the menu. The Williams Bon Chrétien Poached Pear is usually served with ginger cream but the switch was made on account of my dietary requirements. I’m not normally one to be bothered by fruit for dessert, but this was a nice palate cleanser. It would have been better to offer a cake option but I’m aware many kitchens seem to find this a big ask.
The service and the food were good on the whole, although I did feel slightly let down by the fact the menu lacked labelled vegan options and I visited largely blind as to what I was going to be able to eat. Hopefully Collage will work on this for next time. It was good to be offered more than one dish, however, and both of my dining companions were impressed with what they ate during the visit.
Thanks for reading,