REVIEW: Finbarr’s, Waddington Street, Durham City

Finbarr's Restaurant - Waddington Street, Durham.
Finbarr's Restaurant - Waddington Street, Durham.
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FRIENDS’ recommendations and high ratings on Trip Advisor lured me to this restaurant in the shadow of Durham’s viaduct.

Its location away from the throng of the city centre means there’s plenty of parking for patrons and it’s a large site which can be easily manoeuvred by those with buggies or wheelchairs.

Ostensibly, you’d expect this to be one of those trendy gastro pubs housing collections of curiosities and shabby chic nick nacks. Yet, despite its pub appearance, interiors are stripped back and contemporary here and, dare I say it, a little bland.

A muted palette of creams and browns means this restaurant doesn’t really make a mark decor-wise.

Its menu, however, is exploding with colour and a strong emphasis on locally-sourced produce.

We hadn’t booked on a Sunday afternoon and were lucky to snare one of the only remaining tables in this bustling venue.

Those after pile-em-high plates of stodgy roast dinners should look elsewhere as this offers a more left field approach to Sunday dining.

You can pick up two courses for £20 or three courses for £22.50 from a menu which changes regularly to include seasonal foods. There’s two sittings a day - noon until 3pm or 5pm until 9pm.

At the time of going to press, this included starters such as ham hock terrine with piccalilli and toast and salt cod brandade with radishes and cress.

On my visit, there was a figs with Roquefort, walnuts and a balsamic dressing starter which caught my eye.

It wasn’t a combination of flavours I’ve tried together before, but it worked a treat. The sweet punch of the fleshy figs contrasted well with the sharp tang of the blue cheese which was crumbled throughout the dish. Liberal dashings of a balsamic glaze added a welcome sweetness.

The main menu features Sunday classics such as sirloin of beef with roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, interspersed with Sunday alternatives such as fillet of hake with chorizo, new potatoes and tomatoes.

I chose cod with puy lentils. A good-sized portion of flaky fish, on a springy bed of lentils was soon winging its way to my table. Service is swift and attentive here, it has to be with the constant stream of diners coming through the doors.

Though a delicate dish, the light flavours worked well together, and I was left feeling contentedly full.

A satisfied stomach meant we eschewed puddings, but sweet tooths can indulge in options such as creme brulee, roasted fruits with vanilla mascarpone, honey and almonds and iced mango parfait with coconut mousse.

For wine lovers, there’s a huge array of champagnes, sparkling wines, red, whites and dessert wines to wet your whistle with extensive descriptions of each so you can match them to you dish.

Prices are reasonable with a Cuvee Georges Duboeuf Blanc setting you back £15.50 or you can pick up a juicy merlot for £19.