Bishops Mill (Wetherspoons) Durham Review


The Bishops Mill is a JD Wetherspoon pub and it takes its name from the historic mill which stood for centuries adjacent to this site. First recorded in the Boldon Book of 1183, the Bishop’s Mill was the place where the freemen of Durham could grind their corn. The corn mill was rebuilt in the 17th century, and stood here until 1972. The mill race was later used to power the adjacent ice rink.

bishops mill durham

We’ve now eaten and drunk here several times in our Durham foodie careers, so it’s only right that we should put fingers to keyboard and tell you bit about it. There are two Wetherspoons pubs in Durham; the smaller one of the two is in North Road opposite the bus station, called The Water House. That’s not the one we’re talking about here though. The Bishop’s Mill is near the Gala Theatre complex, just downstairs from Fat Buddha, Chiquito and Nandos restaurants.

The place itself is massive, with lots of seating available both inside and out. Chairs vary from leather wing backs to conventional dining room chairs and also booths. It does get busy however, so if you have a favourite seat, chances are someone else will like it too. We like the leather armchairs and can recommend them as they give you the experience of proper relaxation. There are always a good selection of Real Ales on offer and the pub is Cask Marque Accredited, so you know they keep a good pint, and like all Wetherspoons pubs, it’s cheap! Most real beers can be had for around 2 quid.

The Bishops Mill is actually superb as an early morning pub, where you can have breakfast to set you up for the day. The breakfasts are only about 4 quid and you can get unlimited filter coffee until 2pm as well. It’s next to Clayport Library as well, so if you’re a bilbio-fiend you can go get your library books and sit feasting your face while you read them. We chilled out further by getting ourselves a bottle of Cava for only £10. Superb with the addition of an ice bucket.

Near the Bishops Mill is the Loveshack nightclub, which comes to life at night, but needn’t concern anyone wanting to have a drink during the day. It tends to get a bit rowdy at night, with the queue at the bar being about 10 deep at times. My advice is to avoid the place at night unless you’re a party animal, but if you are, go for it!

The only real complaint about the Bishops Mill is that the service at the bar is sometimes slow, and it wouldn’t be so bad if the bar staff would just acknowledge you to let you know they’ve clocked you and they’ve got you in their mental ‘head queue’ and won’t be a minute, but modern bar training seems to result in you being ignored until they’re ready for you, which is a bit annoying. It’s not just Wetherspoons either, most establishments seem to suffer from this. Has anyone else noticed this when drinking in Durham?

Just a note – even in the pub itself, they don’t seem sure whether it should be Bishops Mill, Bishop’s Mill or Bishops’ Mill. There’s signs and posters that spell it in different ways. See how many variations you can spot.

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

bishops mill durham seven

Bishops Mill,
Walkergate Leisure,
Durham,

Tel : 0191 370 8510

Scores on the Doors

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Flat White Durham Cafe Review


flat white bikeWe’d been wanting to try Flat White for such a long time, but when we walked past it was always either full or closed. The place is mega-popular! Then, a cunning plan was hatched – we’d go on a Sunday morning when everyone was still sleeping off their hangovers. We parked up on the little access road for Baths Bridge (parking is free there all day on a Sunday) and scuttled along the river bank past The Boat House, under Elvet Bridge and up past Klute nightclub (voted 2nd worst in Europe apparently, but haven’t been in since I was 18) to the cafe which is tucked into a little niche behind Vanmildert clothes shop. At first glance you’d think it is a suicidal place to put a business as there’s little to no footfall, but it works.

Outside is the famous Flat White Bike, and a couple of tables perched on a crazy angle as the road outside slopes back towards the river. We decided to go inside as although Spring had officially Sprung, the outside tables are still in the shade and it was still nippy at such an early hour.

 

Poking our head in the door, expecting there to be plenty of seats, we were astonished to find only one free table! Flat White is indeed much in demand, even at a silly hour on Sunday morning by people with hangovers. Seriously though, the place was rammed with people of all ages, some enjoying just a coffee and others going for food too. We’d had no breakfast, so decided to eat too.flat white durham inside

 

Inside Flat White is like someone has set up a cafe in a large shed. It’s L-shaped, arranged around the main counter. There’s all kinds of brick-a-brack adorning the walls and it’s very ‘busy’, but the decor in flat white just gives a feeling of homeliness and acceptance. Each rustic table has free newspapers and a clipboard with the menu on it. Not a lot of money has been spent on presentation here, but it doesn’t seem to matter as it all adds to the charm of the place. Don’t spend time waiting for waitress service (there isn’t any), you order the food at the counter and pay for it on the spot. It came to just a shade under £15.

We selected Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg on Toast (£6.50) for Mrs Durham Food and Drink, and I opted for Wensleydale Cheese and Mango Chutney Sandwich (£4.50). We both had an Americano Coffee (£1.85) to wake us up. Flat White Durham is one of these places that doesn’t serve op plates, they use (bread) boards. They use a paper sheet to cover and the food is served on top. Again, this fits in well with the rest of the quirkiness. Mrs DFD reported that the scrambled egg had ‘melt in the mouthiness’ and the salmon was first class too. My cheese sandwich was also really tasty, served in brown bread with crisps. The Wensleydale cheese was shaved thin like Parmesan and the Mango Chutney gave it that exotic almost West Indian feel.

flat white durham smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toastflat white durham wensleydale cheese and mango chutney sandwich

We both decided we could probably spend a good deal of time in Flat White Durham. It could easily become our regular Sunday morning indulgence, just chilling and leafing through the Sunday Times whilst taking our early morning caffeine hit. A lovely place, tucked away where you’d least expect to find it.

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

Flat white Durham rated 8

Flat White Durham,
21a Elvet Bridge,
Durham,
DH1 3AA
Tel: 07789 951149

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The Talbot Hotel Malton Review


The Talbot Hotel Malton

talbot hotel maltonAs promised, our Durham Food and Drink ‘away day’ trip to The Talbot Hotel Malton.

We’d taken the train from Durham Railway Station early doors on the Saturday morning, bound for York. This is about 45 minutes these days, and after a brisk walk across York Station to platform 5 we hopped on the Scarborough train. This trundled off through the NW suburbs, seemingly through people’s back gardens and out into the Vale. Haxby came and went, then we latched onto the River Derwent, past the beautiful Kirkham Abbey and Priory and some lovely railside properties before arriving in Malton mid morning. Out from the carriage, across the river and into the town, the weather was colder and blustery. Mrs DFD had bravely decided on just a dress and cardie. We disappeared fairly rapidly into a local cafe for warming coffee. When we ventured into Malton Marketplace, there was a food market on, and the sun had come out, so we wandered around savoring the smells and sights until luchtime.

The fantastic Talbot Hotel is run by James Martin, the TV chef. You can see the hotel from the railway as you approach Malton, standing high up on the opposite side of the river. It has 26 bedrooms, so not huge by modern standards. The Restaurant and menus are overseen by head chef Jake Jones. We’d booked the lunch time meal on Open Table about a month previously, and had a 12:30 reservation. The lunchtime menu is set at £18 for a two course meal or £24 for three courses. We decided to just go for a two courser. The barman Steve was very attentive and took our drinks order, then came back for the food. Mrs DFD had selected Poached Cod for starters and Pork Belly for her main. I went for Asparagus and Wild Garlic Soup and Talbot’s Burger (Venison Burger), which wasn’t on the set menu, but the barman said he could sort it for me for the same price. We garnished it with an extra portion of hand cut chips and purple sprouting broccoli, garlic butter and bacon.

A pint of Tail Gunner and a glass of Prosecco later, we were shown through to the restaurant. We were the first ones in for the lunch. It’s like a stately home inside, with the huge, strong equine oils adorning the walls and extensive views from the massive sash windows into the grounds and back across the river. We sat by one of the windows, taking advantage of the strong light that had developed. We sampled the bread and butter whilst we waited for our starters to arrive. Our waitress saw to it we were comfortable, then delivered our first course.

Mrs DFD’s Poached Cod was light and melted in the mouth, with a lovely delicate lemon salt taste. The asparagus and wild garlic soup came with strips of mushroom and the accompanying seared sour dough bread was fantastic.

Poached East Coast Cod, Jersey Royals, Granny Smith , Sea Purslane at the Talbot Hotel Maltonwye valley asparagus and wild garlic soup, king oyster mushroom, charred sourdough bread at the Talbot Hotel Malton

Now i’m not normally into anything too fancy, but the main course was well worth waiting for! The Talbot Burger of Venison came in a big rosy bun, with cocktail skewer, a little piece of seared lettuce, with a jenga fashion of chips and beetroot relish. I added broccoli which was covered in garlic butter and strips of bacon. Debs’ pork belly was served on a bed of white beans with grilled leeks and parsnip, she also added some jenga chips and shared the broccoli and bacon. The burger was covered in ribblesdale cheese, which has a very strong flavour. The belly pork was the best i’ve ever tasted, with nice crunchy fat and dry meat beneath. I don’t generally eat beetroot as it’s not normally prepared as nicely as this, but it had a nice sweet soft relish taste and not the hard stuff i’d rejected as a kid.

Talbot's Burger. Roe Deer Burger, Smoked Ribblesdale Cheese, Charred Gem Lettuce, Beetroot Relish at the Talbot Hotel MaltonRare Breed Pork Belly, White Beans, Grilled Leeks and Parsnips at the Talbot Hotel Malton

We passed on the desserts and just went for a coffee in the atrium. This totally relaxed us for another half hour. Steve the bar manager came in, clutching a large TV under his arm, saying that if he couldn’t go to Aintree, then Aintree would be coming to him. The Grand National was almost upon us. We left him to watch his race, paid the bill (£61) and disappeared back to the food market to buy copious quantities of cheese.

The Talbot was everything I expected it to be, with great food and superb staff ensuring we enjoyed our meal. I’d like to stay there sometime and sample the full hotel hospitality as I think it would be awesome. I’d give this a perfect 10.

the atrium at The Talbot Hotel MaltonDurham Food and Drink Ratings
First Impression : 10, Service : 10, Food : 10, Value : 10

The Talbot Hotel Malton,
Malton,
Yorkshire,
YO17 7AJ
Tel: 01653 639096

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Tealicious Durham Review


“For many years my dream has been to own a tea room. The turning point came on my 40th birthday in 2011 when I decided that it was now or never. Being solely a tea drinker and after years of trawling coffee shops in an attempt to find a decent ‘brew’, I knew that something had to change….that change being ‘Tealicious Tearoom’. This tea room will be different from the average coffee shops, at Tealicious Tearoom we will offer the tea lover the chance to experience a unique range of tea blends and savour the joys of a delicious cup of tea.

tealicious durham cakes

The recipe for a perfect tearoom required many ingredients; a supportive family, builders, plumbers, cherry pickers, friends willing to do to lots of market research and the list goes on. The recipe was complicated but despite some setbacks we finally found ourselves at the quaint and quirky building of 88 Elvet Bridge situated in the historic centre of Durham City, this was the perfect place to mix all the ingredients together. With the help of many Tealicious came together and my dream had become a reality!

So don’t be afraid to follow your dream as they do come true.”

Tealicious Durham

Tealicious is quite unashamedly pitched at people who like tradition. From the teapot wallpaper to the bone china cups, this is probably what every American envisages a British Tea-room to be. It attracts attention. Tealicious is situated right next door to Café Continental, but doesn’t compete. Tealicious offers quintessentially British Tea and cakes, whereas next door they are trying to cater for those who want filling up with a meal as well.

We’d been to Tealicious late last year, but it was cold and the windows were steamed up. We couldn’t see out and others couldn’t see in, so it wasn’t showing at its best. Today, the sun was out (ish) and sitting in the window seat we got the best view of the passing public. Nearly all of them gazed in. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Plenty said yes, as the tables filled up behind us. There’s only 4 or 5 tables in the downstairs of Tealicious, with the counter and till at the back. That’s where those delicious cakes are on the photo above. There’s extra space on the top deck, and I think the main kitchen is up there too.

We ordered two ‘Miners’ Brews’ from the tea menu. This is described as “For those who like a good, strong “proper cup of tea”. Puts hairs on your chest.
(Indian Assam, Kenyan black tea)”. Mrs Durham Food and Drink then plumped for an open roast beef sandwich, whilst I opted for the Tealicious Platter, which sounded a bit like a ploughman’s lunch. Hold on – a quick holler upstairs to see whether there was pork pie left – there was! The order was good to go.

The Miners Brew arrived, with nice china cups and individual pots of steaming tea, each with its own tea strainer and pot of milk. The description was right, this was indeed a proper cup of tea.

When the food arrived, it looked fantastic. A nice pie and salad, with cheese, pickalilli and pickled onions, along with greens and a hefty wedge of sun-dried tomato bread and butter. The roast beef was presented well too, everything looked nice and fresh and crisp. As is our way, we swapped half of our fodder so we got a good idea what the other was eating. All of it went down without too much of a struggle. Very nice indeed.

tealicious shop interior

It’s always a pleasure to take tea in Tealicious and the owners should be congratulated in what they’ve done. They’re a credit to the town and it seems a perfect fit for the type of business that’s needed in Durham. Keeping Durham quaint is a difficult job, but someone’s got to do it, and Tealicious seem to carry that off perfectly.

Go Visit!

Tealicious Durham,
88 Elvet Bridge,
Durham City,
DH1 3AG

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

tealicious rated nine

Scores on the doors

Hotels in Durham

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The Capital Durham Indian Restaurant


Here’s a promo video for The Capital Indian Restaurant in Claypath, Durham. I’ve been there many times and I’ve never had a bad meal yet, but be sure to book yourselves in as it gets very busy, especially at weekends.

Directly above The Capital you’ll also find Palm Sugar.

We called in on the way back home after a day in the town. The rain had been incessant, and it was good to get into the dry for a bit. Surprisingly for the time of day (7pm), the restaurant was empty, so we took the chance to get fed up before the rest of the Friday crowd turned out. The Capital, in my opinion, is the best Indian Restaurant in Durham. Tonight that was proved beyond doubt. Mrs Durham Food and Drink hadn’t been before, but she was only moderately impressed the last time shw came out for an Indian meal, at the Spice Lounge, so this was a new one on her.

We started with Poppadoms and pickles. We asked for two plain ones, when they came there were three. The pickles are the standard four, lime pickle, mango chutney, onion relish and mint raita. Usually, the one Indian Restaurants get horribly wrong is the lime pickle. I’ve tasted some pretty ropey attempts in the past. The Capital do the definitive lime pickle. It is absolutely superb! I started raving about it straight away. Mrs DFD agreed. But there was more to come.

capital durham indian restaurant

For the mains, we selected Balti Special Garlic Chicken and Chicken Nawabi, with a Vegetable Pilao and Peshwari Naan. The Chicken Nawabi was the most fantastic taste i’ve had at an Indian Restaurant for a long time. Creamy and delicate, with huge pieces of chicken. The Balti chicken was subtle on the garlic, but enough to give it that distinctive kick. Delicious stuff this. A huge peshwari naan bread mopped up the remnants, with a Cobra Beer each.

The Capital Durham lived up to my billing as the Best Indian Restaurant in Durham City, bar none. The service was as efficient as ever, with the waiters always there to get the order in and food delivered to the table as quickly as possible, but without hovering over you. Food quality was superb, with subtle spicing leading to a fantastic dining experience.

Price was only £34 for two, which included £6 for the two beers, so a bit of a bargain really.


Durham Food and Drink Ratings
First Impression : 9, Service : 9, Food : 9, Value : 9

capital durham rated nine

The Capital Durham
69 Claypath,
Durham,
County Durham
DH1 1QT
Phone : 0191 386 8803

Scores on the Doors

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Bells Fish Restaurant Durham


We called in at Bells Fish Restaurant Durham for lunch on Good Friday. The restaurant is on the corner of the Market Place and used to be Bimbis Fish Restaurant. The place has just been totally redecorated and looks great inside. Like the Gilesgate takeaway, the shop has a big feature of an ornamental fish tank just inside the door, with tropical fish. This seemed to keep the kids entertained nicely.

bells fish and chip restaurant durham

Bells Fish Restaurant Durham

No cheap ‘cafe’ style decor for us; no plastic tables or chairs. At Bells we feel that a world class dish, served in a world class city centre, should be served in a world class place. Hence our heavy investment in our restaurant on both equipment and fixtures and fittings.

At Bells we are proud to serve local people as well as guests from all over the world. You’re sure of a warm and friendly reception here at Bells. Just take a look at our menu and remember, at Bells we are now serving beers and wines too.

If you’d rather enjoy your fish & chips the ‘traditional’ way, our first class takeaway service is available just alongside our restaurant.

We had to queue for a while in the rain to get into Bells, but were able to jump the queue a bit as a table for two came up and those in front of us needed 3 or 4. Felt a bit guilty there as we passed them all in the queue; their faces seemed to harden slightly as we breezed past. The restaurant was fairly full, everybody from adults to babies in there! The seats are nice and comfy and there’s more room upstairs if the lower deck is overflowing (it was). The waitress (all were smartly turned out in their uniforms) took our order straight away. We stayed with traditional Cod and Chips with mushy peas, although there’s plenty to choose from on the menu, including Sea Bass, Salmon and Steamed Mussels. And dandelion and burdock is compulsory with fish and chips isn’t it, along with a slice or two of bread and butter? Oh, go on then.

We amused ourselves by pulling silly faces at the baby on the next table until our food came. All the while people were coming and going, but they seemed to have it all worked out, with a lad clearing tables to make sure new incomers had a clean place to sit, rather than staring at the previous leftovers for 5 minutes. The food took about 10 minutes to arrive, and was delivered on Bell’s fish shaped plates. That was totally effective, raising a smile and reminding us where we were. The cod was cooked beautifully, no soggy batter or bones, all nice and crisp. The chips were also nice and dry, and the mushy peas were a perfect paste consistency. Time to nip our noses and dive in! We stayed for about a half hour, but they were still queuing outside in the rain, so we didn’t hang about any longer and let someone else have their turn to dry out and feast their faces. I was still feeling a bit guilty about jumping the queue to be honest 😉

bells fish and chip restaurant durham

Price was £24 for two, which wasn’t cheap, but when you consider that fish and chips for two from a normal chippy will cost best part of 12 quid these days, without the sit down, drinks and service, it wasn’t too bad.

Bells have got things very right with their Durham restaurant. The food is very nice, the menu extensive and the service is fast, efficient and polite. Recommended if you don’t mind queuing to get in.

Bells Fish Restaurant Durham,
11 Market Place,
Durham,
DH1 3NE
Tel: 0191 384 8974

Website : http://www.bellsfishshop.co.uk/


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

Bells fish restaurant Durham rated 8

Scores on the Doors

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