Firstly, it’s often been said that Filini at the Radisson Blu is one of the best restaurants in Durham City. For that reason, I’d booked it for a Valentine’s Day meal. I wanted it to be right so that we could have a nice romantic meal out.
The Radisson Hotel is quite an imposing structure by the river, opposite where the old Durham Ice Rink used to be. The new Millennium Bridge joins The Radisson to the Gala Complex, with its bars and theatre. We’d been delivered to the rear entrance by our taxi and went straight to the little bar and had a cheeky cocktail whilst waiting for our table time to come around. There was a wedding party having photos taken in the hotel but there was also quite a lot of people milling around, including a bunch of lads who suddenly appeared in sports kit and shorts, so it was a strange old mixture.
Our table at Filini Durham was at 7:30pm, so we wandered through. The entrance to the restaurant is just off the hotel reception area, but isn’t that prominently signposted. Quite surprisingly, there was no-one working front-of-house to greet us and show us to our table, we had to actively go to attract a member of staff’s attention. This was right down at the far end of the restaurant, where the point of sale stuff was. Our table had a name tag on it. Were they expecting us to wander in and just find our own table? I don’t know, but that is what it seemed like to me. The restaurant space is a large one, with the tables arranged in no particular order, and although a contemporary light jazz tape played background ‘muzak’, the place had little atmosphere. Some tables had candles, ours didn’t, again a little inconsistent. We ordered a bottle of pink prosecco (£25).
The Filini Durham menu was a little different from the one posted on their website. We’d had a sneaky look to pre-select what we’d like to eat, but a lot of the options were no longer there, so we had to choose again. Our two selections for starters were Italian Sausage (£6.50) and Crispy Oxtail (£8.50). The sausage came with onions and gravy. It was slightly spicy and not bad. The oxtail was presented in four cubes, which weren’t really crispy, except on the outside. They tasted a little strange. In the meantime, the wine had arrived, but it was just put on the edge of the table in a cooler. No-one asked if we wanted it opening. It was in a screw top bottle as well, maybe something else we were expected to do ourselves?
For the main course, Mrs DFD had chosen Sea Bass (£17.95). I’d gone for a Sirloin Steak (£26.95). The Sea Bass was slightly pink but had a nice light texture. It was served on a bed of peas and carrots. The steak was cooked nicely to my medium/well done instruction, but was served on a wooden board with handle, which wouldn’t stay still on the table whilst I was trying to cut the meat. Very annoying! Both meals came with vegetable accompaniment. The baby carrots were served in a little glass jar and the roast potatoes and parmesan fries were also provided as a side, but both were completely lacking any form of presentation whatsoever. Not good really.
We did choose to have desserts, which were presented a little bit better: Chocolate ice cream (me) and Pannacotta (her), which were very nice but a little pricey at £5.75 and £5.95 respectively. The ice cream was garnished with mint, with strawberries and grapes. The Pannacotta had a nice firm consistency, although a little too firm for Mrs DFD. Finally, two cups of americano coffee to finish. These were good and strong.
Overall, we were quite disappointed by the experience of Filini. There was nothing to make you feel special as a customer, I could only describe it as like a restaurant with café style service. I’m not criticising the waitresses who were pleasant and always accommodating, but it didn’t feel right and the quality of the food was very average for what was being charged. The bill came to £103 altogether for the two of us, so not cheap. I don’t mind paying good money for good food, but felt short changed at the end of this.
Durham Food and Drink Rating
First Impression : 6, Service : 7, Food : 6, Value : 5
Filini Durham Restaurant,
Tel: 0191 372 7200