Since opening it’s doors in 2005, Jesmond Dene House has been a mainstay of luxury in Newcastle. Designed by John Dobson, the Georgian home has been sympathetically converted and maintained, boasting 40 bedrooms,event halls and of course award winning dining.
With 3 AA rosettes under their belt, head chef Michael Penaluna proudly gives diners the best of local produce which includes fish and seafood coming from another local legend, Latimers.
After a drink served with nibbles in the casual and relaxed bar, we headed into the dining room ready to be dazzled – and we were.
Within seconds of being seated it become clear the service for the evening would be attentive but not overbearing, with iced water presented along with a choice of breads prior to our Amuse Bouche.
The Amouse Bouche was delicious. Fresh salmon served with caviar and edible gold with a rye, cherry and walnut crisp. The combination of the caviar and the crisp was perfect. A well balanced hint at what was to come.
With a choice of House Menu or Dinner Menu, we chose to mix and match for our starters. With the Ham Knuckle Terrine, toasted sour dough and pease pudding (£7.50). A well packed,meaty serving complimented by the smooth pease pudding. A classic dish executed with style.
From the Dinner Menu, we were excited to sample the Crab Dumplings with Shiitake Mushrooms and Hot & Sour gel (£14.50). This was phenomonal. From the first bite, the gel and mushroom were a powerful pairing, with the meaty texture of the mushrooms counter balancing the delicate,soft crab. On a more personal note, it evoked memories of being a child and sharing a plate of Chinese mushrooms with my Dad which is something I will never be able to do again. Quite possibly the best starter I have ever had.
Our next tasty morsel was the second Amouse Bouche. Salmon confit with preserved lemon,forced pea shoots, radish and Gentlemans Relish. Cooked in a sous vide, the salmon was so moist it almost had a mousse like texture. We were only familiar with the more brown toned version of Gentleman’s Relish so this light creamy offering was a pleasant change with an interesting mustardy twang.
From the House menu, the 72hr Beef Short Rib with smoked mashed potato, roasted onions and young carrots (£22) provided an extremely generous cut of meat on a plate with an abundance of potato. The rib, cooked to medium, was a thick, slab which was well matched to the sauce that packed a meaty punch. There wasn’t much of a smoked taste to the mashed potato but the dish worked well on whole. No one flavour was overpowering.
The Flat Iron Steak with Bone Marrow Chips and Béarnaise sauce (£18), also from the House Menu was a pleasure to behold. The medium-well steak had the perfect char to it which kept the juices and flavour in while pleasing my preference of well-done red meat. The Bone Marrow chips were out of this world. Crisp, fluffy and full of flavour, the portion was so generous it defeated both of us! Up until now we had deemed Beamish Museum’s beef dripping chips to be king of the chips but these are the proud owner of the crown. Admittedly the bearnaise sauce fell flat in comparison to the rest of the dish and I felt it wasn’t necessary to the dish.
The pre-dessert interlude was a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and meringue pieces. The cake was spicy and would have been delicious as a full portion. We were unsure what to make of the orange coloured puree in the base of the glass as we couldn’t actually detect a flavour whatsoever. It could have been carrot puree – who knows?
With out trousers getting suitably tighter, we were pleased to be heading in to the final course – dessert. The Blood Orange sorbet (£6) was extremely light and the right balance of sweet and tart. The 3 scoops rounded my meal off with aplomb.
The Roast Chestnut creme brulee, salted caramel and malted ice cream (£6.50) was a winner for my sweet toothed companion. The salted caramel didn’t skirt round the issue of being salted and it offset the creamy unctuous creme brulee well. The malted ice cream was the star of the dish.
On whole, we had a very pleasant evening and thoroughly enjoyed the ambience which only amplified the enjoyment of the food. My only criticism was when we ordered the steak well done, the server was very confrontational about how it should be served medium. We fully appreciate how meat is enhanced by certain cooking styles but if the customer asks for well done, the steak should be well done. I did actually concede on this occasion and agree to the medium – well but I was a little put out.
Nevertheless, we will most definitely be returning to Jesmond Dene House!