REVIEW: Rib Room, Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham
In terms of food miles, you can't get much of a shorter distance from field to plate than at Rib Room.
This Carrville steak house uses Hereford cattle reared in Durham for its steaks which are matured on site for up to 32 days. Want proof of this? Then just take a peek through the window of the restaurant’s meat locker which is strung with beef on the bone. This is a place that’s serious about meat.
As you’d expect from the moniker, steaks dominate the menu, with no less than 11 options and a burger for those who like their meat in a bun.
There’s the eponymous rib eye, in 10oz and 20oz options, the Porterhouse, the sirloin - all the cuts are there.
Prices start from £19.95 for a 6oz fillet up to £59 for a whole Chateaubriand. Cut from the thickest part of the fillet, this is a super-size steak for two people to share.
Before you tuck into the main show, there’s the starters to whet your appetite. Like the main version, this choice is a meat feast with options such as pressed ham terrine (£6.95); Durham belly pork ribs (£7.95) and wild mushroom and tarragon Scotch quail eggs (£7.95).
There’s a trio of vegetarian starter options as well, including the obligatory butternut squash risotto, but veggies, unless they’re pescatarian, may struggle with main options. Aside from the steaks, the other options are halibut or meaty winter warmers such as pheasant with bubble and squeak (£16.95).
For meat-eaters like me, however, it’s a field day.
I started with scallops (£10.50). The trio of the meaty molluscs were served with thick purees of black pudding and parsley root. Though black pudding has been enjoying a renaissance of late, I’ve never had it in puree form. But it works, and gives this rich ingredient a smoother, lighter flavour which contrasts well with the silky scallop.
It was a good starter, but nothing can compete with the star of the show. Enter the steak.
I chose the 6oz fillet (£19.95), which is billed as being ‘perfect for a lady’. There’s nothing dainty about this dish though - and rightly so.
It was served as a dense slab with a light bounciness, as you’d expect when asking for it medium rare. As such my steak knife slid through it with perfect ease.
You can choose from a choice of sauces (which are included in the price, along with roasted mushroom and pan fried red onions), but when the meat’s this good it doesn’t really need dressing up.
Last time I ate here my steak was served on one of those hipster wooden planks, but they’re back to plates now. Maybe this heralds the beginning of the end of this fad. Hurrah.
The decor has a traditional classiness to it too. None of your ersatz stag’s heads and jam jar glasses here, the setting has a French brasserie feel - think leather booths, chandeliers and art nouveau poster art on the walls.
Puddings are a heavyweight affair too with sinful options such as banoffee cheesecake, hot chocolate fondant and Black Forest knickerbocker glory.
We chose the cheese to share (£8.95). It’s usually served from a trolley, which will make cheese lover’s eyes light up like a kid in sweet shop. Sadly, the restaurant was so busy it couldn’t be manoeuvred to our table, so our knowledgeable waiter had to bring the cheese to us already cut.
There’s also a good range of digestifs for those who want to round off their steak in style.