Review: The Mill, Thompson Road, Southwick, Sunderland

The Mill (formerly The Dray and Horses) - Thompson Road, Sunderland, SR2 2SQ...
The Mill (formerly The Dray and Horses) - Thompson Road, Sunderland, SR2 2SQ...
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CHANGES are afoot at Thompson Road.

Not only is Grace House Children’s Hospice being built near the former Hanhemann Court site, one of Southwick’s landmark pubs has pulled its last pint.

The Dray and Horses is no more and the site has undergone a massive refurbishment to be reborn as The Mill.

Gone is the “old skool” pub theme, to make way for sleek fittings, a contemporary colour scheme and trendy exposed brickwork.

It’s not what you’d expect from the site, but it works, and fellow Echoette Jane O’Neill and I were impressed on our first visit.

We needed refuelling after a long Saturday shift and, after numerous recommendations, we decided to see if the venue passed muster with us.

Unfortunately, two large groups of 20 had just arrived at Franchescas, the Italian restaurant section of the venue.

The Mill is split into two sections – Francescas and the gastro pub side – but with one kitchen we were warned that we faced a 40-minute wait for our food.

My tummy grumbled at the prospect, but at least the staff were honest and there was plenty to keep us entertained during our wait, from the plasma screens showing rolling news bulletins to the colourful locals who were sat next to us and regaled us with tales of the night before.

The gastro menu’s got a great choice with dishes including red current glazed lamb chops with celeriac and thyme mash (£8.50), Eastern lamb Thai burger (£6.95) and pork schnitzel burger (£5.95).

We ordered a side order of homemade breads (£1.95) which we asked for before our mains to stave off the hunger pangs.

For the price, it was a real bargain, with chunky slabs of warm bread served on a wooden platter with white pots brimming with melt-in-your mouth butter, and oil and balsamic vinegar.

We mopped up every last bit before tucking into our mains.

I’d gone for the omelette with pancetta and pepperoni, which is served with potato wedges and salad. I’d never had an omelette with pepperoni before, but it works a treat and the wedges were superb – big chunky bites with plenty of potato.

Jane, meanwhile, enjoyed a hearty fish chowder. For £6.50 you get a selection of the chef’s fish from that day’s market with a chunky wedge of bread perched on the side.

Jane’s dish was thick, rich and warming, the perfect portion for a tea-time bite to eat, and drew plenty of oohs and aahs.

With drinks, our meal was a bargain at £15.

Next door, the larger groups sounded like they were enjoying their meal. In the Francescas side of The Mill there’s all the usual Italian food suspects, pizza, pasta, you get the gist.

We had a peek at its menu which also includes a good selection of wines and champagnes including Laurent Perrier at £42.95.

For a more purse-friendly option, visit during happy hour which runs Monday to Sunday from 12pm to 6.30pm, when you can enjoy two courses for £6.95. The other menus are available daily from 11.30am to 9pm.