Cafe Continental Durham Review

Cafe Continental Durham

“Cafe Continental is a family run cafe / restaurant situated on Elvet Bridge in the centre of Durham City.

Occupying two properties dated back to the late 1800s; there is a cafe situated at ground floor level which leads up to a restaurant area arranged in a number of quaint rooms; reflecting the character of the grade two listed building. Seating is available for up to 60 people with some tables overlooking the river wear.

Boasting a large menu serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner; Cafe Continental offers dished from ‘light bites’ such as homemade soup, paninis, sandwiches, crepes and baked potatoes to homemade daily specials, reflective of the season; which include a large number of dishes suitable for those with vegetarian, gluten and dairy free diets”.

cafe continental outside view
An, up until now, undiscovered place we always seem to walk past but never go in, The Café Continental is sandwiched (no pun intended) between The Half Moon Inn and Tealicious, at the bottom of Elvet Bridge In Durham. The downstairs facade is of a small, pokey cafe, but there’s an upstairs to the place as well, and this opens out into an extensive area with several sub rooms and niches. It’s a Grade 2 listed building. The walls are painted a grey colour, and windows are sashed, without curtains. This sounds drab, but actually works ok. I’d think this would be great for ventilation in summer, but we found that the cold creeps through the glass into the window seats in winter, a little bit uncomfortably. Maybe some curtains would help a bit?

Climbing the stairs (make sure to shut the door behind you to keep the draught out) takes you up to the main restaurant dining area, and we were shown to a table straight away and given some menus. These are huger than huge, and a bit unwieldy, but there’s a great selection of stuff on there. A selection of the grub is also highlighted on the numerous blackboards hung around the place, which is a bit bewildering to begin with, but once we homed in on what we wanted it was ok. Taking of our order was a little slow, but it was a busy shopping day just before Christmas, about two o’clock in the afternoon, so we can forgive them that I think. We noticed that the food is actually prepared ‘down below’ and arrives via Dumb Waiter. It’s a long time since I’ve seen one of those used in anger. Fascinating for anyone who hasn’t seen one operating before.

Mrs DFD had ordered a Moussaka and I had Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie from the Home-made section. Both came with chips and mine had veggies too. The puff pastry lid on the pie was about 4″ thick when it came, and needed removing to let off steam and get at the filling, which was of course blowlamp hot, but it lacked volume and was a bit bland to be honest. The chips and veg were fine. Mrs DFD’s Moussaka looked quite dry, but tasted ok (I was offered a morsel or two), although it too would have benefited from a few veggies I think. For drinks, we had a cappuccino coffee and a Pepsi.

After the mains, a small dessert menu (very small and hand written on a card) drew us into sharing a Ginger Sponge and Custard for our afters, which was lovely, with a good bite to the ginger. I could have done some serious damage to the cake cabinet as well (it was full of gooey looking, fancy gateux), but that would have just been making a pig of myself (again, never stopped you before -Ed). The food in the Café Continental overall was nice, without really being outstanding. The place was quite full when we got there, so it seems a popular place to eat and there was a good cross section of punters, from students to families. Our final bill came to £23.50, which wasn’t going to break the bank for a two course meal for two with drinks. Most main courses on the menu seem to be £7-8 and sarnies are cheaper, so there’s no need to spend that much if pennies are tight, and it would be quite possible to get a decent meal for £10-12. A canny enough place to take the weight off your feet if you need to, slightly out of the main shopping mayhem on a busy day.


Price : £23.50 for two

Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 7, Service : 7, Food : 6, Value : 8

cafe continental rating seven

Cafe Continental Durham
87a/b Elvet Bridge
0191 386 0000

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The Spice Lounge Durham Indian Restaurant Review

The Spice Lounge Durham is a little Indian Restaurant that we’ve been going to for years, but it’s hidden away behind the Market Place, so you have to know where it is or you’ll probably be looking for it for weeks without finding it. It’s tucked away in a little alley, down between the Durham Indoor Market and St. Nicholas’ Church. It’s long and narrow and you just wouldn’t expect to find it there. The entrance is through a small door, and once inside the little foyer, with it’s ‘fish-tank-esque’ window, you are in front of the bar area. Once again, we hadn’t booked (need to get that sorted out), but after only about 5 minutes wait they found us a table. Hot diggety, no trouble.

spice lounge entrance

The waiters are all smartly turned out in trousers and waistcoats and are very attentive, getting our drinks sorted out as priority before taking the food order. We stuck with Cobra Beer (mega bottles) and a house White wine. We also got complimentary glasses of water just in case the food was too hot. The menus are nice and clean, bound stylishly and are well laid out, making choosing our meal very easy. Starting with poppadoms and pickles, they were plentiful and tasty, and as usual, we made a mess of the nice crisp table cloth. Sorry guys! Pickles were fresh and zingy. I always gauge the pickles by the Lime, and this was sharp and spicy without tasting of soap like some Indian Restaurants seem to serve (why is that?).

spice lounge staff

The girls played it nice and mild, ordering the Lamb and Chicken Pasanda, done in fresh cream with yoghurt, cous-cous, almonds and cashew nuts. Us blokes went for the ubiquitous Chicken Tandoori Masala and I decided Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi was the thing for me. Rather than the food coming in little bowls over a candle powered warmer, the meals are in dishes, like soup-bowls, which is a bit unusual, but cuts down on the table clutter. The Jalfrezi came served as a sizzler, so the waiter spooned it in while balancing the sizzler and plate precariously on his arm. It looked impossible to do without covering himself and us with sauce, but he managed without spilling a drop. Vegetable Pilao Rice was nice and fluffy and the Peshwari Naan passed the Mrs DFD test (it’s the only Naan she’ll order).

The bill at Spice Lounge Durham came to about 75 quid between us, including drinks, so quite reasonable and they didn’t try to hurry us out of our seats afterwards, which was nice as we just wanted to sit and talk for a bit. Highlight of the night was the customer who leaned back a little too far on his chair and went a**e over t*t, thanks to a helpful nudge from his Mrs. I thought only kids did this, but it was pretty funny, and he wasn’t hurt, just a bit embarassed. We tried not to mock and point, but it was difficult 😉

spice lounge serving food

Spice Lounge, Durham Menu

Price : £75 for four

Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8, Service : 9, Food : 8, Value : 8


The Spice Lounge,
St. Nicholas Cottage,
Market Place,
Tel : 0191 3830927

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Gilesgate Tandoori Durham Indian Takeaway Review

Gilesgate Tandoori Durham

This is actually the 2nd time we’ve been to Gilesgate Tandoori Durham. It’s close to our house, within shambling distance in fact, so it would be rude not to really, wouldn’t it? We were really intending to have fish and chips just down the road at Bells, but it’s shut on a Sunday night so we had to divert here instead.

gilesgate tandoori Durham indian takeaway front of shop

The first thing you notice is the difference from outside to inside. From the road it just looks like an ordinary takeaway, slightly tatty, in an unremarkable terrace on Sunderland Road, but get inside and it’s a different story altogether. It’s also impressive that you can actually see into the kitchen as the food is being prepared, and the chef actually wears a proper chef’s hat. 🙂 The lads who staff the place are very cheery and like to have a bit craic and there’s a couple of tidy leather couches to sit on while you wait, with magazines. There’s also a TV if you want to watch: it was The Simpsons Movie. We had a good laugh at Spider pig. 🙂

The wait for our food was about 20 minutes, once I decided what we’d order (again I found myself ordering for other people) and everything was neatly packaged in a nice sturdy brown bag for the walk home.

Opening up, the food was all neatly partitioned into containers, none of which had leaked (like you get with some Indian takeaways), so serving up was a nice clean experience, without ending up with sauce all over the kitchen. Presentation was also a cut above the rest, with containers garnished with herbs before being sealed, so you get a nice pattern when you open up. Food quality is superb, probably the best i’ve had from an Indian takeaway. Rice was nice and fluffy, naans were done to perfection and the meat in the main courses just melted in the mouth. We always try to get a variety of meals from hot through to mild, then everyone gets a little bit of each. As usual though, we’d still ordered far too much. Even with two rices/two naans between four of us, it didn’t all get eaten, hard though we tried.

We’d recommend Gilesgate Tandoori Durham to anyone who likes their Indian food. They serve class produce, at a pretty reasonable price. Even if we lived further away, we’d happily travel or pay the delivery costs on this. It’s superb scran!


Price : £27 for four

Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 8, Service : 8, Food : 9, Value : 8


Gilesgate Tandoori,
39 Marshall Terrace
Co Durham
T : 0191 383 9699

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