REVIEW: The Rib Room, Ramside Hall Hotel, Carrville, Durham

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NOW here’s a restaurant you can really sink your teeth into.

I’m not sure how the Rib Room had passed me by.

I’ve driven past the Ramside countless times, I’ve dined in its carvery, I’ve quaffed many a glass of wine at weddings and awards ceremonies in its function rooms.

Yet little did I realise there was a hidden gem of a steakhouse here. I say gem, but it’s more of a bobby dazzler.

The Rib Room has a character all of its own, an oasis of French sophistication and fine dining that feels quite separate from the rest of the hotel.

The decor is delightfully busy: walls peppered with framed images of France and Art Nouveau poster art, glistening chandeliers and empty wine bottles that probably have many a tale to tell.

Seating is dark and luxurious and we sunk into one of the curved leather booths as we took stock of the menu.

As you would expect from any steakhouse worth its salt, beef is the dish of the day here, with no less than 12 options from which to choose. But non-steak lovers are also catered for with a selection of fish and dishes to warm you up on a winter’s night, such as rack of lamb (£18.95), beef and kidney steamed suet pudding (£15.95) and crown of pheasant (£17.95). We couldn’t be swerved from the mainstay of the menu, however.

But, before I get to the steaks, let’s start at the very beginning. Starters are as impressive as the mains. No predictable options here, not a whiff of prawn cocktail or even the ubiquitous mozzarella and tomato salad.

Instead, you can humm and haaa over more adventurous choices such as rabbit rillette, pickled beetroot and cranberry compote with toasted sour dough bread (£8.95); pressed confit belly pork with black pudding and baby toffee apple (£8.25) and dressed Hartlepool crab served with Guinness bread (£8.95).

Feeling fleetingly flush after pay day, I chose the half a lobster (£12.95). It was simply grilled which allowed the subtle succulence of the seafood to shine through with a mini saucepan of garlic butter on the side for extra flavour.

It was a deliciously decadent start to the meal, but the piece-de-resistance was yet to come.

Steaks start from a delicate 6oz fillet (£19.50) to a whopping 30oz tomahawk rib eye steak – so called because of its resemblance to the weapon because of the intact rib bone – which is £55 for two people.

I went for the 8oz fillet which will set you back £24.95.

Steaks are reared on the doorstep here, sourced from Durham farms, and aged for a month in the restaurant’s meat locker. Some seats overlook the locker for diners who like to see exactly where their meal has come from.

After 28 days, the meat is carved on site, you can’t get fresher than that. And it shows. This is one of the most beautifully tender steaks I’ve tucked into in a long time.

I’d asked for it medium rare and it was executed with juicy perfection. Presentation was also spot-on: a chunky wooden slab with salad and grilled tomato and a ladle of a luscious béarnaise sauce. You can also choose from diane, peppercorn, chimichurri, garlic and paisley butter and blue cheese glaze accompaniments. Though this steak was so plump with flavour it barely needed any.

Our service throughout the evening was as immaculate as the food. Faultless. This meaty affair deserves every single petal of its Rosette award.