FOLLOWING a tiring weekend and a filling Sunday lunch, my family and I took a while to pluck up the courage to venture out for an evening meal.
After sizing up different places we could go nearby, it was decided that our best bet was the Three Horse Shoes, in Leamside.
The place’s reputation has grown somewhat over the years and it is a hugely-popular dining venue for those living in the area.
There is competition just a mile away at the Italian Farmhouse in West Rainton, but the pub’s restaurant looks to be holding its own, and then some.
Even so, I was still surprised to see its restaurant almost full late on a Sunday night.
Called the Back Room, the area stretches to the far side of the building.
The dining room has to be one of the best around.
No loud music, just a warm buzz about the place that feels inviting from the moment you step in.
Plenty of space between tables is something I think a lot of restaurant managers forget the importance of.
It’s never a great start to the night when you have to awkwardly climb into your seat at the start of an evening meal.
No such problems in the Back Room though. Often at restaurants or pubs you can be left cramped and it ruins the evening somewhat.
Only three of us had the courage to go for starters.
I went for the tempura of king prawns, which comes with a sweet chilli sauce and oriental stir fry.
The batter on the prawns was excellent, light and fluffy.
The stir fry provided a spicy and tangy accompaniment, which I enjoyed immensely.
Another of our group plumped for black pudding, saying it was better than expected.
I opted for a rustic pub grub option of steak and kidney pie for my main meal.
One of the impressive aspects of the Back Room is that it does all kinds of different dishes well.
A more traditional British meal is not something I usually go for. I have a preference for Italian or Indian cuisine.
However, it was cooked to perfection, with delicious pastry and a rich gravy. It also came with a hefty portion of chips and a hearty pot of mushy peas.
The rest of our party went for either the linguine pasta or gammon, and neither dish could be faulted.
Following the belly-busting Sunday lunch and the more-than-generous meals on offer at the Back Room, we decided to forgo desserts and loosen our belts instead.
Service is friendly and attentive – from the staff pulling pints at the bar to the waitresses serving tables.
The bill, including drinks and a couple of cafe Americano coffees, came in at £66.
Not the cheapest meal on offer in this area, but what we paid for was packed with quality.
An inviting bar area at the front of the building is stocked with real ales for fans of that tipple.
However, for those looking to enjoy a special event, the pub has an upstairs private dining room which can seat up to 12 people. This needs to be booked in advance.
Ample parking is also another positive feature of the pub and restaurant, although it is usually packed.
Those visiting may also wish to sit in the small beer garden behind the restaurant – that’s depending on the Great British weather of course.
On this evidence, visitors to the Three Horse Shoes are sure for a warm welcome, well-prepared food and an enjoyable evening.