Recently I was invited to review a local Ember Inns pub, The Duke of Wellington, located just outside the City of Durham. The location makes it easy to access via own transport or public. Prior to attending I had heard some good things about the Duke of Wellington one of them being my parent’s favourite place to grab a nice meal at. I attended with a party of 4 which where my partner Nicky and our friends Tristan and Jade, we were given a £50-00 tab to take off the final bill.
I’m one of those people who do enjoy to go somewhere which looks like a good place to eat, I always judge somewhere with how it looks and how the staff greet you. With the Duke of Wellington I must say it looked the part, a large rear/side car park, outside seating and a big area for customers inside. A spacious dining area which is something I find not many places have, I hate when you go into places and you’re too close to the next table, you may as well introduce yourself to them and join in with the conversation. Thankfully the Duke of Wellington never had that problem, well-spaced and thought through dining offered a nice private dining experience.
The gentleman who dealt with us was Neil and it was him who we first met, my first impressions was what a lovely well-mannered and professional gentleman he was. What came to my surprise was the way he presented the menu, unlike most places he told us what sadly was unavailable from the menu and explained the replacements. The look of the restaurant was also what give me a very good first impression, as said previously, a well thought out seating area, it looked the part. I was expecting a 50/50 place like some places have a half bar area and then a drinking area however you could tell the place was featured around its food. We did go on a Newcastle United Match day so I was half expecting a lot of people inside watching the game and shouting, thankfully that was not the case at all.
What we ordered:
The menu, where should I start. There was a wide variety of meals on offer from the menu which made it extremely hard to choose. There was something for everyone, for starters myself and my guests had different meals, me and Nicky opted for Soup of the Day which was Country Veg, Tristan went for Prawn Cocktail and Jade got Bread, oil and olives.
For main course, again we all got something different, myself I just had to have the 10oz Ribeye steak with peppercorn sauce. Nicky went for the Hunters Chicken something which she loves, Tristen got Roasted Yellow Pepper & Plum Tomato Pasta and Jade went for Cod and Chips. For dessert, obviously, the main event, three of us being, myself, Tristan and Jade all went for the Chocolate Brownie and Nicky could not resist temptation by the Chocolate and Baileys Sundae.
What we thought of the food:
The starter, for myself I got a nice big bowl of Country Veg Soup with a side of warm bread, sadly I would have liked a knife to have cut the bread with as the cutlery knife was not sharp enough to cut it. The presentation, well not much you can do with soup. It was a well flavoured soup however I felt it was missing something maybe a slight bit of seasoning but overall it went down a treat and I enjoyed it. Jade’s came out and you got a nice big bowl of olives and some lovely bread, she enjoyed the bread but never really dug into the olives. Tristan’s came out and I was surprised on how it was presented. Having worked in a kitchen which does prawn cocktails I’ve known them more to be in a small sundae style bowl but Tristan’s came out on a bed of lettuce and bread next to it. I do feel this was a missed opportunity to present the dish nicely and was rather disappointed it looked how it did. However, putting the presentation aside Tristan thoroughly enjoyed it.
After a short break between meals which is always a lovely time to just chat and drink Prosecco as we did, our mains arrived, and one thing I can say is they certainly don’t hold back on portions. The food looked great, mine was the Steak and I could not wait to get stuck into it. I did make the mistake of ordering extra Onion Rings, I do have a huge addiction to them but was surprised at the size and the good handful you got already with the Steak. I like my Steak medium rare (or still mooing as some say) and they got it perfect, the flavour in the Steak was fantastic and was well up there with one of the best Steak meals I’ve had in a while. The Chips were good but I’d have much rather Sweet Potato sadly that’s something they don’t do, Onion Rings had a fantastic crunch and where just fantastic. The peppercorn sauce, now, I’m hard to please when it comes to peppercorn sauce it can either be dreadful or it can be perfect there’s no in-between with me, the sauce had whole peppercorns in and was a good consistency and outright fantastic with a nice kick to it.
So, onto everyone else’s mains, Jade ordered Cod and Chips something which again I feel can be either great or bad, my first impressions on the dish was great, I say this because you see a lot of places use garden peas but I feel it must be mushy peas which is what came out. Jade allowed me to try the fish batter something which again can be a winner or loser in my eyes and it was fantastic it had the right crunch and flavour to it and tasted just like it does at a fish shop. Nicky got the Hunters Chicken, I’m not a huge fan but what I thought was great was the sauce came separate as everyone has different preferences to how much they want on. She thoroughly enjoyed it minus a rather big bit of fat on the bacon but that’s to be expected.
Overall the mains had pleased us all, again I feel the presentation on some of the dishes could be more creative but we’re eating in a pub and not a Michelin starred restaurant so I can’t really complain too much. The portion sizes were good in fact in a rare occasion I had to leave a bit of mine so I had room for the dessert. Time for my favourite course, dessert, I opted for the Chocolate Brownie after seeing a fellow customer order it I just had to try. It came well-presented and finished with a mint leaf on top. The taste of the brownie and the texture was fantastic, not too tough nor too soft, the ice cream was beautiful with a strong vanilla taste.
Three of us (Me, Jade and Tristan) ordered the Brownie and we all loved it. Nicky however opted for the Chocolate and Bailey Sundae, it was huge I honestly thought it was for sharing but it was for one person. I had to try a bit and Nicky kindly allowed me to get a small bit, it tasted nice however not a huge lover of baileys it was rather overpowering. But for Nicky it was perfect, the final course therefore being an all-round success.
I won’t hide the fact I was offered £50-00 towards my meal to review but the price I’m going to discuss will also include that £50-00. So the overall cost for 4 people having a three course meal plus extra onion rings, a glass of coke and two bottles of prosecco came to £108.03, now if we divide this between four people it would come to £27.74. That cost covering a three-course meal, roughly 4 glasses of prosecco and a glass coke so a bargain of a price for what we had. The cost is far cheaper than some other local eateries in and around Durham and with the Duke of Wellington offering a fantastic family friend environment too.
The final Report:
Location and Accessibility: 10/10
Décor and Facilities: 10/10
Food Taste and quality: 9/10
Food presentation and looks: 8/10
Food Price: 10/10
Drink Price: 10/10
So, as you can see it gain a massive array of full marks only letting down on presentation, I would highly recommend The Duke of Wellington to anyone looking for some good traditional pub grub. The food and staff are a pleasure.
Would I go back? Oh Yes, in fact I’m thinking of bringing along some family for a meal very soon.
Other Notes: The only other note I’d like to give is that Neil the gentleman who served us during the evening was utterly fantastic and the perfect representation for Ember Inns and the Duke of Wellington.