UPDATE: Sadly, since this review was posted, St. Mary’s Inn is no more.
Occasionally, you get to visit somewhere as a blogger that you’ve admired since it’s inception. For me, St Mary’s Inn has for a while, been a place i’ve longed to experience. Set within the vicinity of St Mary’s Asylum, the recently refurbished venue has been enjoying rave reviews. Naturally, I wanted to see if they were worth their salt.
Lucky for me, their lovely PR, Juliet, recently contacted me about visiting to experience St Mary’s Inn for myself. So after setting a date (I really wanted to “look forward” to this one) and waiting for it ever-so-patiently, I took the short trip up the A1 to Stannington, Northumberland, with my lovely lad in tow.
We arrived in the early evening on a Saturday and were surprised to find the venue actually, quite full. Plenty of diners, a few sat outside enjoying the rare sunshine and the nearby estate bustling with its inhabitants. We were welcomed warmly and shown to our room, the Bakethin Room.
A spacious, light and beautifully clean suite with original beams and a huge bathroom (complete with walk-in shower!). The decor, understated but chic, gave the room a very “boutique hotel” ambience with an air of exclusivity, which is fitting given that there are only 11 rooms to enjoy at the venue.
Of course, the “Sod’s Law” rule of life cruelly dictates that whenever you REALLY look forward to anything, you are bound to be derailed in some way. And as such, we were disturbed from basking in the glory of our very plush St. Mary’s Inn room by a call from my neighbour informing me my kitchen had flooded their kitchen. Great. Of course, my kitchen couldn’t possibly have flooded on any of the other 300-and-odd nights I spend at home.
So, after driving like a maniac (sorry, DVLA and other drivers of the North East!) back to my humble abode in Gateshead, the flood was dealt with, albeit resulting in a missed dinner reservation at St. Mary’s. However, after a quick call to the venue, we were assured that providing we were back by 9.30pm, the kitchen would be open and ready to serve us some delicious scran.
Becky, our lovely waitress for the evening, couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating when we burst through the door like actual bats out of hell. I was on such an emotional tenterhook after my evening of flood-related debacles that I could have climbed over to the bar to actually hug her after she assured us that they’d love to have us in for dinner. Thankfully, for her sake, I resisted, and we were shown to our table in a beautiful cosy area of the main restaurant. Shortly after, the venue’s friendly GM Victor, popped over to introduce himself.
Despite our tardiness, coupled with the fact we’d completely disrupted his kitchen rota (I’m still getting over it, if i’m honest!) he couldn’t have been more kind and welcoming. Whatever we needed, we were told, he and his staff were there. He couldn’t have been more spot on. From the off, the service throughout the dinner was perfect.
Staff were chatty, informative, happy to suggest their favourites and knowledgeable about the building, it’s neighbouring asylum and the local area. Becky was our particular favourite, and I’d like to commend her here and now for being consistently lovely throughout our visit.
But this is a food blog, I hear you cry! Where is the food bit?
Well, it’s here, actually.
We ordered from the standard menu and Specials board throughout the meal, to start I went for the Chicken and Leek Terrine (£6.50), which was served with dates and sourdough, with my S/O opting for Potted Pork with homemade pickles and sourdough (£6.50). Both arrived within 10 minutes of ordering, and both were utterly delicious.
To me, a terrine is normally quite smooth in consistency, however this was a mix-up of succulent chicken pieces, moulded together with it’s natural juices. I’m not a big dates fan, if I’m honest, so I avoided these on the side, but the little I did try would have been a pleasant, sweet accompaniment for anyone partial to the odd date. The sourdough was lightly toasted and plentiful.
The potted pork dish evoked feelings of envy from me. In hindsight, I should’ve ordered it. The pork was delicious and the pickles perfectly tangy – a great addition to an already stellar starter. Again, there was plenty of sourdough to enjoy. Next time, I’ll be ordering this.
With our food, we picked a bottle of Shiraz to share, which after the evening we’d both had, went down very well indeed. It was a lovely bottle and we ended up ordering a second, and at £19 it was pretty reasonable for such a delightful bottle of red.
For main course, I chose the lamb dish from the Specials board at £17.50. I’d been informed by our waitress that it was the last one, so naturally, I had to go for it. Served flanked by goat’s cheese, pea puree, edamame beans, broccoli and sun dried tomato, the lamb was served perfectly pink and more importantly, there was plenty of it. I have an unwritten personal rule that if there’s lamb on a menu, I’m eating it, and this dish certainly didn’t disappoint. Succulent meat and a whole range of textures and flavours to accompany it. I’d have it again in a heartbeat.
My dearest S/O plumped for the Chicken and Bacon pie, served with jersey royal potatoes and veg. The pie was piping hot (any pie that arrives at a table below this temperature is a massive no-go in my book!) and boasted a creamy sauce that complemented the bacon and chicken perfectly. The smoky flavour of bacon was instant and the pastry was fluffy and fresh. At only £9.50, I don’t think you could ask for more, really.
That said, I’m absolutely confident that despite my starter course defeat, I brought back the fight with my choice of main course and I’d devour that lamb dish any day of the week!
On to the dessert, and for anyone who knows this blog (and me) well enough, will know I’m not too much of a dessert fan. When at St Mary’s Inn, though… and it would have been rude to not sample their sweet delights with as much vigour as we had their savoury offerings. We opted to share a dessert, the vanilla pannacotta with baked strawberries and a gorgeous shortbread topping (£5). I reluctantly shared this, to be honest, because as soon as it arrived I knew it needed to be devoured.
The baked strawberries were rich and warm, the perfect accompaniment for the chilled pannacotta. The texture roller-coaster continued, with the shortbread topping adding necessary crunch. All in all, the perfect dessert for someone who isn’t really into desserts.
Thanks to our extremely late arrival, by the time we’d finished our meal it was kicking out time at the restaurant and bar, however the lovely staff were absolutely fine with us taking the remainder of our second bottle up to the room.
Now I’m not some sort of expert hotel reviewer, but I’m a girl who likes her sleep and I can confirm that my night in the Bakethin room was a slumber-addict’s dream. Very dark, quiet and the perfect temperature, I slept like a log (never been too sure on that saying, to be honest) and woke with very little time to spare before breakfast.
The walk-in waterfall shower was more like a wet-room, actually, and there were complimentary organic cleansing products bursting with aromatic rosemary/ginger and other delightful scents waiting to be used. Plenty of fluffy and perfect white towels and the best lighting a girl could ask for when applying make-up. It’s all in the details. After the quickest turn-around ever in order to check out by the instructed 11am, it was breakfast time.
We were shown to the breakfast room which was bursting with morning light and playing host to a number of other late breakfasters. There’s a full spread of continental treats including pastries, fruit, yogurt and cereals, as well as various teas, coffee and juice options. There’s also a hot food breakfast menu, which can be amended as you see fit (we actually heard the fussiest man EVER ordering his breakfast at the table next to us, and the staff handled him superbly!).
Naturally, I had to go for the Full English. Featuring succulent sausages, black pudding, bacon, a huge field mushroom, beans, toast and eggs of your choice (I went for poached!), there was plenty to get stuck into. Considering the breakfast is included in the room rate, I was pleasantly surprised that a hot option was even offered, since most places think a crummy Continental breakfast will suffice. It won’t, but St Mary’s Inn know what’s going on.
The boyf. went for a classic Eggs Benedict. A massive muffin bursting with plenty of ham, two poached eggs and lots of creamy but zesty Hollandaise. Again, a breakfast that provided much-needed sustenance the night after two bottles of red.
The ambience in the breakfast space was very chilled, and after we’d finished eating we had time to wander about and enjoy the space (and get the photos you see in this very review!). There’s a beautiful outdoor terrace, where I was told hosts some outstanding summer BBQ’s, as well as a chilled-out vibe in some of the bar spaces where board games can be played as you enjoy lunch and a quiet drink.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped too, and if you go soon, you can peek at the soon-to-be-redeveloped St Mary’s Asylum, just next door. The development of St Mary’s Inn complements the surrounding area perfectly, so I hope that whoever takes over the Asylum pays as much attention to detail in order to keep it authentic.
And that, I guess, is really all there is to say about the incredible St Mary’s Inn. A well-thought out venue with plush furniture and finishings, delicious food and friendly, welcoming staff. It’s just far enough out of Newcastle to feel like you’re on a little mini-break, and the little touches are what makes it so special, along with the nods to local landmarks and regional treasures. Victor has created and leads a team of committed staff who couldn’t have done enough for us, and I’m absolutely certain we’ll be back.
Get yourself there before the secret’s out!
You can find St Mary’s Inn at St Mary’s Lane, St Mary’s Park, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 6Bl. For more information on room rates, their menus and how to get there, visit their website. You can also see sneak peeks of the venue and food on their Twitter and Instagram feeds: @stmarysinn. Big thanks to Victor and the wonderful team, and Juliet Wheater for arranging our visit.