Sunday Lunch @ Wynyard Hall
On Sunday myself and Mrs B (who, following this visit now insists on being called Lady B) decided we’d had enough of my lumpy mash and soggy bottomed yorkies and felt it was time for a Sunday lunch treat. Taking a short ride into the country we rode past some very large houses, through the country park and up to the main entrance of Sir John Hall’s Wynyard Hall.
The history of Wynyard Hall, situated between Sedgefield and Billingham, is filled with influential and important people – a series of Marquesses of Londonderry played host to prominent writers, politicians, socialites and cause celebre – so it is little surprise that as you enter the magnificent reception for Sunday lunch you too are treated like minor royalty.
The welcome at the front desk is warm and friendly and in contrast to the imposing hallways you are led through on your way to the Wellington Room. The walls are bedecked with portraits 20 feet high, tapestries and gilded ceiling mouldings and immediately you feel like you’ve stepped into Downtown Abbey or Pride and Prejudice.
On giving our name we were shown to our table – the simple things like having your coat taken for you, the chairs being eased out and back as you sit and the initial offer of a cool drink while you begin to peruse both the meal and wine lists all continue to make you feel very special. We were served by Gracie who was wonderfully attentive without ever being intrusive; Gracie walked us through the menu and, when Lady B decided to have a cheeky G&T, she provided an extensive list of the gins on offer. As we continued to deliberate, we were presented with some fresh warm bread and Beef Dripping infused butter which, OMG, is amazing (for those who like meat).
Two and three courses are on offer for Sunday lunch, and in the interests of providing a full and fair review, we both plumped for 3. To start, her ladyness had Fishcake with Lobster Aioli and Pea shoots whilst I was tempted by the Tian of Crab and Prawns. For ‘good eaters’ both portions, whilst looking stunning, seemed a little small, yet as soon as we took the first bite there was no risk of wolfing it down – the taste was intense, fresh and packed with flavours you normally only hear about on Masterchef – so each mouthful was savoured, slow and deliberate and actually quite filling.
Next was our mains – in true tradition, Lady B went for Roast Beef and I took advantage of being able to enjoy Shoulder of Lamb (I’m the only one in our family who likes lamb). The beef came in a large, fluffy and perfectly crisp Yorkshire pudding and accompanied by roast spuds, parsnips, carrots and deep greens. The beef, always a good test of a restaurants standard, was perfect – thick slice, pink but as tender and moist as a good fillet steak. The lamb was so tender it could be cut with a spoon and was sat on a bed of pomme puree (posh mash). Silence reined for the next 10 minutes, only punctuated by lip smacking.
Once again, without being prompted and feeling neither rushed, nor delayed, Gracie appeared to clear the table. It must be said that the staff here operate in a lovely manner, calm efficiency with a clear focus on their guests, often doubling up on a table to ensure all guests are served at the same time and tables cleared in one move.
Desserts were next; despite what people may know about me, I was actually feeling quite full but any menu with Rhubarb on will always grab my attention so it was a Forced Rhubarb and Cream Cheese ice cream for me, Treacle Sponge for Mrs B. Again, both were impeccably presented and a delicious finale to a wonderful meal.
Having Sunday lunch out is often a family tradition and there is no end of restaurants all vying for your patronage, however I don’t believe there is anywhere in County Durham that can provide the location, the service, the quality of food and the sense of occasion better than Wynyard Hall – whether it is for a special event (it is our 25th Wedding anniversary early May and we both agree that this is where we will be celebrating), a family get together or an intimate repas.
Sunday lunch is served from 12pm until 9pm, two courses from £25, 3 courses from £30.