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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El Coto Durham Tapas Restaurant Review

El Coto Durham is a cute little place we’ve noticed in passing and have wanted to visit for some time. It’s tucked away up past the students union in New Elvet, right next to where the old driving test centre used to be. So, with a free slot in our hectic schedule (currently moving house) we parked up in Old Elvet and legged it up the bank.

el coto durham tapas restaurantFirst impressions from the outside are that it looks very small and it looks very closed. It was about 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. Closer inspection of the menu in the window revealed a chink of light and it was in fact open for business and that there was a special offer of 3 tapas selections for about 11 quid, so being greedy for a bargain, we went in.

The tiny facade opens out when you go in the front door, like stepping into the Tardis. The place goes back a lot farther than we thought, with rustic fittings, big holes in walls, big mirrors and old railway sleepers decorating the walls, well trodden wood flooring making it look like it’s been lived in for about 40 years. A small bar is just inside the front door, so you can have a ‘primer’ before a meal, but there wasn’t anyone behind the bar, so we found a seat ourselves. Four lads with big floppy hair cuts were the only patrons, enjoying their lunch with a bit of boyish silliness thrown in. ‘Hotel California’ massaged our ears from the music system, in Spanish. The warm smell of colitas seemed even more intoxicating as it rose up through the air.

The waitress was with us in less than a minute, taking our drinks order and bringing our menus.

Two  glasses of San Miguel settled us in quite nicely. The special offers were on a separate menu, which we had to ask for specifically, but there was lots of commonality with the standard one, so no problems there with selection. We picked 6 items (olive bread, spanish salad, meatballs, tiger prawns/chilli, chicken/garlic and chorizo) and waited with baited breath. Well, we actually had another beer.

The salad and bread arrived first, within about 10 mins of ordering and there was an enormous amount of both. The salad was nice fresh and crispy. The tapas arrived as soon as we finished our salad, and I have to say the portion sizes were much larger than other tapas places i’ve been to. OK, I haven’t been to many, but I know a big plate of tucker when I see one. Food quality was very good, service was also excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the fact that the bill only came to 26 English Pounds including the San Miguel.

We liked El Coto. A lot. The only real grouse was that the menus were a bit tatty around the edges , and that the restaurant would probably do better if it actually looked open! 🙂

We’ll definitely return here, with other foodies in tow.

Price : £25.90 (for two)

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

el coto durham rating seven

El Coto,
Restaurante Español,
17 Hallgarth Street,
0191 3844007
Email :

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