REVIEW: Seven Stars Inn, Shincliffe, Durham

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HAVING moved to the sticks on the outskirts of Durham City, it seemed only right that we try out all the local restaurants.

For our first evening outing into the city we decided on The Seven Stars Inn in the picturesque village of Shincliffe, just over a mile from Durham City centre.

From the outside the pub, which started life as a coaching inn as far back as 1724, looks every bit the English country pub, but don’t be fooled.

Dining with my husband, Phil, we initially went into the lounge side of the premises, which was everything you would expect from a quaint English pub: a snug room with big wooden bar, friendly staff and a handful of regulars. Phil was sold as soon as he realised they stocked his favourite real ale.

But, when shown into the dining room, it was like entering into a totally different environment.

The place was like a tardis, far bigger inside that I had expected, and was packed with diners. The decor skilfully combined fresh and modern with a twist of county pub, giving it a lovely relaxed feel.

The Seven Stars Inn boasts a menu of modern British cuisine with international influences, using primarily local produce and it didn’t disappoint.

For starters I plumped for the duck spring rolls, which were lovely and crispy and came with a salad and a chilli dipping sauce, which was beautiful – my only complaint was the portion wasn’t very big.

Phil, a big lover of black pudding with a fry-up, decided he would try it in a different form, a black pudding salad. He was a bit apprehensive of what seemed like an odd combination, but he needn’t have been, because he said it was delicious.

For mains I went for the steak minced burger, which was very tasty and the chips were perfectly cooked.

Phil asked for his steak “blue”, which is one down from rare, he said it was a bit undercooked, but that was long after he had scoffed the lot.

For the sweet-toothed of us, the desserts were something not to be missed. I ordered the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream and all I can say is my mouth’s watering just remembering it. Phil had the vanilla creme brulee, which was lovely, light and creamy – I know because I pinched a taste.

The only disappointing thing about The Seven Stars Inn was the toilets, although clean, they were very outdated. However, there were signs up in the pub saying refurbishments were under way.