Filini Durham Radisson Blu Italian Restaurant Review


Filini Durham

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.

filini durham restaurant

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?

filini durham main course
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.
filini durham desserts

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

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Filini Durham Restaurant,
Franklin Lane,
Durham
DH1 5TL
Tel: 0191 372 7200

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Chiquito Durham Mexican Restaurant Review


Popped into Chiquito Durham for a cheeky bite to eat on Sunday. I Was in Durham to try to finish off the Xmas shopping, without Mrs DFD, and after a cold walk down from Gilesgate was a bit famished by the time I got there. The queues at the sausage butty stall in the Market Place were horrific, so I passed them by and did what I had to do, then it suddenly occurred to me that a sit down Mexican would fit the bill to try to warm up. Chiquitos is tucked away in the corner of the Millennium Square complex, next door to Fat Buddha (see later for a review of this). It’s a little bit quieter round there, and with the shopping crowd tending to favour places within eyesight it’s ideal. Plus, not everyone likes Mexican food.

chiqitos entrance

Chiquito in Durham has a nice welcoming facade, with tables outside (only brass monkeys would consider sitting out there today though) for summer evenings, and it opens out into a huge double floored eating area once you get in. Like most of these chained establishments, the waitresses are super-slick at spying you coming and show you to a table pretty pronto. I was given a table over by the door, but it was far enough away not to get an Arctic blast every time other hungries came in. My waitress quickly took an order for my drink and left me a complimentary bowl of salted popcorn. When she came back with the drink I was ready to order. Chicken and Chorizo Tacos grabbed me as a good winter warmer and I got a side order of fries as well.

Chiquito, Durham Menu

chiquito durham main meal

When the meal arrived I’ve got to say I wasn’t overwhelmed by the quantity, but it was quite nicely presented and colourful. The tacos were served as a stack of three, topped with a dollup of red onion relish and sour cream. They were pretty flat, and I couldn’t really see too much of the content, so took a bite. The chicken and chorizo chunks were really small, in fact I couldn’t really taste the chorizo at all. There was a bit of cheese in there too, but I couldn’t tell what type. The salad was also a little small, with not a lot of flavour to it. The best part of the meal though was undoubtedly the Corn on the Cob. This was sweet and very juicy. The fries were nice and chunky, with just the right amount of seasoning. I used them to dip into the little bowl of salsa. Overall, a little disappointing, but not a disaster by any means. Next up, a dessert to cleanse the palette. I chose the Passion Fruit Sorbet.

chiqito durham dessert

This was served in a nice broad rimmed glass, with some kind of leafy garnish and a drizzle of icing sugar. I’m not sure what that leaf was, but it could have been mint? Maybe the eagle eyed reader will tell me? Anyway, the sorbet was pretty refreshing and did the job. Overall then, a meal that I could only describe as ‘filling the hole’. Nothing extraordinary at all, it could have been so much better with a little more flavour and attention to detail. I couldn’t complain at all about the service though, which Chiquitos seem to get just right.

The bill came to £21.60, which I think to be quite expensive to feed only one. However, i’d been here before and knew it wasn’t the cheapest, so not a shock. The first time I ever went to a Chiquito was the one in the Metro Centre in Gateshead. This wasn’t a patch on how I remember my meals there. Mexican food shouldn’t be bland, it should be fiery and zesty. This wasn’t, it was just ordinary, almost like a homemade Mexican meal, with the spices removed so as not to offend anybody.

Price : £21.60 for one

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

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Chiquito,
Unit 6a,
Freeman’s Place,
Walkergate,
Durham,
DH1 1SQ
Tel : 0191 3706470

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The Bishop Langley Durham Review


The Bishop Langley Durham is a name that not many will recognise, unless you are a regular visitor to Durham and a seasoned pub-goer. The pub is right on the edge of Framwellgate Bridge, with a fantastic terrace overlooking Durham Castle and the Cathedral from across the river. The experienced Durham drinker will know it’s location better as the Coach and Eight, a seedy, sticky carpetted place from the 80’s/90’s where we all served our time dancing drunkenly and trying to pull. Thankfully, that version of the pub is long gone, and after a period of closure and refurbishment, the pub is now a respectable watering hole again, with a nice indoor lounge to match the spectacular outside terrace. Access is from either the landing of the stone stairs to the riverside path, or from the roof terrace itself, you takes your pick.

We’d been on a tour of Durham’s coffee/tea shops on the morning after a jaunt through Pelaw Woods, and it was early afternoon before we got there, ready for a feed. There were still plenty of people sitting out on the terrace, even in the late autumn sunshine, but we decided we’d sit in the lounge downstairs as we needed a comfort break anyway. There weren’t too many people down there though, so we found a seat pretty quickly. It’s easy to relax as there’s lots of comfy couches, including a leather corner (ooh-err!), which is where we chose to park ourselves. The Bishop Langley menu can only be described as ‘pub grub’, with maybe a hint of trying to be something a little better than that, but it satisfied our needs on the day as we couldn’t see further than sausage and mash/ham and eggs with chips. Exotic eh? You need to order your food at the bar; the orders are taken by the same people who are taking the drinks orders, so you have to wait for that, but they’re pretty good at getting everything scribbled down and passed to the kitchen.

 

“The focus of our food is traditional British with a contemporary twist. We use only the best locally sourced ingredients & cook everything fresh.
From grazing on our bar food with a real ale to a full three course meal with a fine wine, we’ve got something to satisfy everyone.”

 

The Bishop Langley always has a good selection of real beer on, but there’s also some premium lagers if you just fancy being cooler and haven’t got a beard. Prices are pretty similar to most bars in Durham, so no nasty shocks there, but the one thing that did seem to let them down a bit was the time taken to serve the food. It was about 25 minutes for our meal to arrive, which is a little bit too long for the simple stuff we’d ordered. Surely it doesn’t take that long to fry an egg and do some chips and sausages, right? Suddenly I remembered, the food is also served to the roof terrace sunbathers, which takes a bit more time to deliver, so we can forgive them the little delay, and we weren’t in any hurry really were we Mrs Speedy Gonzales?. Sometimes in the summer the food is provided from a barbecue on the terrace, which helps draw customers in because of the wonderful smell of onions, but not today unfortunately!

This wasn’t the first time we’d been into The Bishop Langley, but we hadn’t eaten in there before this. It’s a good spot to have food if you need to sit down and take the weight off your feet during a hectic shopping trip (it’s not too far from the bus station in North Road), but bear in mind you’ll need to hike it back up the steps afterward, so take it easy on the pud front or you may need to be winched out! They offer 10% reduction to Durham Uni Students on production of a Student Card.


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

bishop langley durham rating six

The Bishop Langley
Framwellgate Bridge
North Road
Durham
T: 0191 386 4779

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