Rockliffe Hall – The Clubhouse Vegan Menu*
Trust the weather to misbehave when a Bank Holiday weekend was looming! Glorious sunshine all week when folks were in work and couldn’t snatch more than 30 minutes with a Calippo and then the heavens opened on the Saturday. Torrential rain and quite impressive thunder rumbles greeted us the moment we got to The Clubhouse, Rockliffe Hall’s restaurant overlooking their stunning golf greens.My friend Laura and I were invited down to Darlington for the day to enjoy the luxury spa the hotel has within its amenities (which you can read about here) and to try out the recently devised vegan menu The Clubhouse’s team have put together. When I initially looked at the food offering online I thought it sounded like standard gastropub fare – Fish & Chips, Burgers and Scotch Eggs all featured. I’m always keen to be a guinea pig when a chef is happily prepared to accommodate my animal free diet.I actually expected Laura to choose from the standard Day Menu, but was thrilled when she said all of the dishes on the vegan version sounded just as appealing. I have to say I was very impressed to see 3 choices on each courses, something that isn’t always the case when dining out for me. It was only the Avocado Salad that didn’t really tempt me. I’m not a huge fan, but Laura said this was the dish she was most interested in trying. Horses for courses, as they say!We started off with a glass of something fizzy while we decided upon what we were going to eat and began the epic task of regaling each other with what had happened in the few weeks we hadn’t seen each other. Service was swift and not long after we’d ordered our starters they arrived. As you can see, the kitchen really put a lot of care and attention into the plating of the food.I was extremely happy with my choice of slow roasted tomatoes and black pea hummus. There was a light charring on some of the tomatoes and the alternative-to-chickpea hummus tasted fresher and lighter. A slice of melba toast would have been a ncce addition to scoop up the remnants of the dish, but that is a minor grumble.
In between courses we had a chat with Ben, The Clubhouse’s assistant manager. He told us about some of the guests they’ve recently welcomed in the hotel and a little more about how they accommodate those dining their with dietary requirements. It was good to hear about their commitment to preparing interesting food for those who shun meat and dairy, and it was also heartening as I was reminded about those with intolerances and allergies too.My main of Field Mushroom Fritters was lighter than I expected. Served with salad and roasted peppers it was also filling.Laura felt her Saffron Risotto was over seasoned and raised this with Ben. Another bowl was whipped up that was less salty for her. I had wanted this main myself but everyone knows you have to order different main courses if you’re a food blogger. Laura let me try some and I was impressed by its silkiness without the use of cream, butter or cheese to finish the dish off. We were both unsure about whether to have dessert, bearing in mind we were about to don our swimsuits and sit round a pool but the options on offer sounded almost nutritious with fruit as their base. Laura ordered Glazed Bananas while I opted my nemesis, Sorbet. I was pleasantly surprised with the champagne version of this usually spurned dessert, especially how it worked with the Berry Soup it sat on. It was a lovely palate cleanser to round off my meal.Laura’s toffee-covered bananas demonstrated how easy it is to create a vegan friendly dessert without fancy ingredients but with a little imagination. We were both in agreement that The Clubhouse certainly hadn’t failed to deliver the ‘wow’ factor with their vegan menu and we felt the standard of food was in keeping with its grand surroundings. The service was faultless, especially when it came to handling the issue with Laura’s Risotto main. I’d certainly recommend a visit to Rockliffe Hall if you have a special occasion coming up or just generally want to feel spoilt.
Thanks for reading,
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