Review – The Clarence Villa, Durham
I wrote a blog recently on my visit to the sister pub of The Clarence Villa – The Lambton Worm. We had originally planned to visit Clarence Villa, but due to the website of Lambton Worm listing special offers we were swayed to visit there instead. I wasn’t overly impressed with a number of things, although the service was good and Him Indoors seemed to enjoy his food. It made me reticent to drive up to Coxhoe for Clarence Villa, but as we were both working in the Durham area on Friday we decided to give it a try.
As we drove up towards the pub we noticed a blackboard at the side of the road which advertised the same offers for Clarence Villa as we’d seen for Lambton Worm. A shame the websites of the brewery aren’t synced to ensure accurate information across the chain.
The interior of Clarence was far more consistent than we’d witnessed at Lambton. It’s not often I’d take a photo of the loos, but I couldn’t resist when I saw the tin bath sink! I liked the hallway of mirrors and poetry on the wall outside the toilets too.
Raf seems to be working his way through Sonnet 43’s list of ales and tried their Brown Ale on Friday. He said he still prefers the Steam Ale he had at Lambton.
The reason I was so keen to try Clarence was because of their commitment to using local producers. This was something I’d discussed at length with the guys I met from the brewery at Christmas.
The 2 courses for £9.95 menu differed here from the Lambton. There was Ham Hock Terrine, Scampi and Bruschetta. I chose the Soup of the Day, which was Onion. It wasn’t particularly oniony, but it was a nice soup. Thankfully Clarence had better bread on offer than its sister pub. So far, so good.
I was definitive in my decision for main course: Beef Stroganoff. This is one of Raf’s favourite meals, and he was slightly miffed I’d beaten him to the choice. The other choices weren’t to my taste – Sauteed Squid and Chorizo Broth being one such option. Raf chose the Apricot Stuffed Chicken Breast.
I was very disappointed when my main arrived. It was ready meal portion size and standard. It was demolished in a couple of minutes. Raf said the sauce was more like Madeira than Stroganoff, which I’d agree with. His main was a mammoth portion, which he struggled to finish. I sat waiting for him to plough through it and felt cheated with my own main.
We decided to share their Sticky Toffee Sundae for dessert. The toffee ice cream which topped the warm pudding was lovely, but it was a mean scoopful. The sponge was delicious, but I was unsure why there was a berry sauce drizzled in alongside the sticky toffee. A couple of mouthfuls and it was gone.
The restaurant was quiet when we arrived at 5:45. The staff seemed disinterested generally by the customers in the dining room, and we struggled to get their attention to ask for more drinks. It was a swift meal due to the portion sizes, too. Raf was, as he had been with the Lambton, more happy with the meal. The bill came to just under £20 so you can’t grumble, but you get exactly what you pay for. We may pop into a Sonnet 43 pub for their beers, but I think we’ll be heading to other establishments for food in the future.
Thanks for reading,