There are some places you visit that make you smile from the moment you walk through the door. Jesmond Dene House is one of those places for me. I can’t say I’ve had anything less than faultless service and impeccably presented and tasty food on each trip we’ve made. If you ask me where to go for Afternoon Tea, I’d recommend here. Heck, I even included it in my Best Afternoon Tea feature. Looking for somewhere nice to stay outside the city centre? The rooms are stylish and cosy, with one of the best beds I’ve had the pleasure of sleeping in. North East Family Fun documents her stay and breakfast here, and I couldn’t have put it better myself. The whole kit and caboodle is a polished and practised affair, which I see as positive. To shell out your hard-earned, you want to feel comfortable that you’re going to get the best a restaurant or hotel can offer. Jesmond Dene House certainly delivers on that front.
We visited to try out the new Early Evening Menu which has just been launched. JDH are offering 3 courses for a respectable £24.50 between 5 and 7pm, Monday to Saturday. I was interested on how the kitchen would fare on the vegetarian and vegan front as we have not dined here since the dietary changes. Looking at the menu in advance I couldn’t forsee any issues for Mr. Canny, but decided to telephone ahead to add a note to our booking about his veganism.
We were the first into the conservatory to dine, and as it was a gloriously sunny evening I decided to use my one drink quota to have a refreshing Pimms and Lemonade. It arrived in the equivalent of a fish bowl with what appeared to be my salad appetiser inside! When a drink is served in a glass almost the size of your head you know you need to pace yourself! It was just what I needed after a stressful week of plumbing issues (no euphemism) and a fussy baby. Mr. Canny enquired about what wine he could have, and was told that the house red was suitable for vegans. The wonderful thing about having a sommelier on hand is you don’t need to use an app to discover what you can and can’t drink.
Small things and all that jazz, but one of my favourite moments dining at Jesmond Dene House is the arrival of the bread basket, which coincides with perusing the menu. The freshly baked and still warm Sundried Tomato Roll, dusted with sea salt and served with salty butter, is my particular weakness. The Rye Sourdough, served with Olive Oil, was Mr. Canny’s choice.
We were both surprised by the special vegan menu that was presented to Mr. Canny. Instead of being offered just one choice, as I was with the regular menu and its vegetarian option, he had at least two options for each course. For starters he had three. This was quite unexpected based on our experiences elsewhere and he felt spoilt for choice. He decided to have the Charred Babygem, which was served with Asparagus and a lemon dressing.
The asparagus was served grilled and al dente, while the charred lettuce was a revelation to Mr. Canny. Coincidentally, we watched an episode of Masterchef after our meal at home and a contestant served up burnt lettuce, demonstrating the fine line between charring and cremating.
A creature of habit, I ordered the Celeraic Veloute. It’s about time Heinz got in on the game and started calling their creamy soups veloutes, too! I have sung the praises of JDH soups every time I’ve visited and reviewed on this blog, and this bowl was no exception. It was both creamy and light, while the singular Stilton Tortellini was robust enough in flavour for me not to need another.
We both ordered the Wild Garlic Spelt Risotto, which was studded with salty olives. Our only complaint? We could have eaten more! The risotto was silky, thus proving there is no need to finish the dish off with cream or parmesan when a chef is skilled enough to cook the ingredients correctly.
Dessert for Mr. Canny was a trio of sorbets, which were tangy and a great palate cleanser. I ordered a White Chocolate and Praline Sponge, which was served with chocolate ice cream. As always, the dishes came Instagram-worthily presented. Our waiter said my pudding was akin to a Kinder Bueno, which I can’t disagree with. I enjoyed every morsel.
The visit was a success, as we anticipated. What we didn’t expect was for Mr. Canny to be so well catered for, and that took us by surprise. I think because there is a fantastic team working behind the scenes, with great local produce to hand, they can create something unique and special for those with dietary requirements dining with them. Our waiter, Dale, deserves a special mention for his excellent service. We’d heartily recommend a trip to Jesmond Dene House to try out the Early Evening Menu soon, which we think is excellent value for money.
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