I’d been meaning to head up to Vallum Farm Restaurant for quite some time, so when an invite from their team landed in my inbox to invite us for a leisurely weekend lunch, obviously, I jumped at the chance. As I have very little concept of distance, I’d thought it further away than it actually is, so I was pleasantly surprised that after a mere 20 minute drive, we were at the farm ready for a 3-course lunchtime feast.
The small and cosy restaurant is elevated above their farm shop (I’ll get to that bit later) and the decor is all about mixed up furniture and plenty of light thanks to the almost 360 degree windows. Our visit coincided with them putting up the Christmas decorations, which gave the place an even more cosy feel thanks to the fact it was miserable and dreary outside.
The very friendly and professional Alan was looking after us and talked us through the menu and specials, as well as where the ingredients were sourced, including of course, the farm itself.
As we’d decided to skip breakfast, I literally could have chosen everything, however I finally opted for the Smoked Mackerel Paté, which was served with a Heritage Potato Salad and Shallot dressing. I’m a big fan of a fish starter and this was delicious. The smoked flavour of the mackerel was complemented perfectly by an incredibly zesty potato salad and the shallot dressing added a further punch. I’ve thought about this starter quite a lot since and would absolutely a) recommend it and b) have it again on my next visit.
My boyfriend chose the Chef’s Terrine (today’s was Ham Hock) served with Vallum Bakery toast, house pickles and chutney. As you can see from the picture below, the plate was bursting with colour and texture and I’ll be honest, despite my starter being SO good, I had major food envy. The chutney was vibrant, with star anise and hints of citrus fruits and cinnamon, like no chutney I’ve ever tried before. The terrine was perfectly textured and of course, the fresh bread from the on-site bakery was a perfect accompaniment.
An encouraging start, for sure…
Next up for me was the hearty Overnight Braised Beef with potato purée and root vegetables with a meaty jus drizzled over. This was essentially a massive hug in a plate. Comforting and delicious, there were hints of red wine in the jus and the root vegetables were served quite al dente, which is my favourite way to enjoy veg.
But of course, the beef, which was the star of the show, didn’t disappoint. I’d underestimated how filling this would be, thanks to generous servings of both the beef stew and the potato, so after this and a starter it was fair to say I was feeling pretty stuffed.
As designated driver I could only have the one, so chose a small (obviously!) glass of their Argentian Malbec to enjoy with my main course. The boyfriend, on the other hand, was able to enjoy plenty of the wine (I must put my foot down on the driving in future!) and a bottle of the Vallum Pale Ale (brewed locally at Allendale Brewery) which is a light, zesty ale with hints of citrus fruits that even I liked the taste of.
For his main course he chose the Beer-battered North Shields cod with fries, mushy peas and (of course!) home-made tartare sauce. The fish was cooked to perfection and the batter light and not greasy at all.
The only slight criticism on this dish would be that we felt it should really be served with hand-cut chunky chips as the fries were a bit flimsy. It’s a rustic take on fish and chips so the chips should follow suit. But to be fair, this didn’t take anything away from how much he enjoyed it and I guess it’s just personal preference.
Despite feeling like we absolutely couldn’t take any more, we opted to share a dessert from the A’la Carte menu and went for the Deconstructed Sticky Toffee Pudding (£5.75) which was an absolute joy to look at and even more of a joy to consume. Look, see how pretty it is!?
The whole dish was the perfect combination of texture and taste, from silky caramel creme to rocky cinder toffee, sticky toffee sauce and ice cream. I actually regretted not ordering my own, which is surprising since, for anyone who regularly reads this blog will know, I don’t usually do desserts. This tied up a simply perfect lunch at Vallum Farm Restaurant and one I’ll be keen to experience again.
They also boast an impressive and innovative cocktail list, including the Frozen Duck Pond, a concoction including Tequila, Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade, fresh lime, cane syrup and crushed ice (£6.50) and the Herb Patch Mojito, Vallum’s own take on the classic cocktail. Obviously, given my driver status, I was unable to sample any of these, but they’ll undoubtedly be seen to on my next visit to Vallum Farm Restaurant!
The lunch menu we chose from is also pretty purse-friendly, two courses are £13.50, which for the quality of everything we ate, is pretty staggering. They’ve recently launched their Festive Menu, served until 30th December that features a Featherblade of Beef served with Celeriac Mash and Bordelaise Sauce that sounds simply divine. Their website features additional menus and details of their upcoming events, so feast your eyes on everything they have to offer and make your booking.
For anyone looking to arrange a larger get-together, there’s the beautifully decorated Chef’s Table, featuring a gorgeous log burner and quirky textiles and furniture, which I’d love to use for a big, family Sunday Lunch. You can find out more about the use of this room again from the website, or call the restaurant on 01434 672 406 and they’ll be more than happy to assist.
The Vallum Farm shop below the restaurant is also a treat for any discerning foodie, and sells meat and other deli items, freshly baked goods from the Vallum Bakery and a good spread of wines and beers (including the Vallum IPA, of course!). I picked up a bottle of a 2011 Beaujolais (I’ll not lie, we had it that night and I can’t remember the name of it!) for only £10 and it was hard to resist buying literally everything in the shop. If it’s open when you visit, I fully suggest you pop your head in for a nosey.
And that’s it, really! We couldn’t have been more impressed with the service, the quality of the food and the location of Vallum Farm Restaurant and wouldn’t hesitate to visit again, next time for an intimate evening meal. Sure, it’s a little out of the way, but who doesn’t love a spot of lunch out in the country? For anyone visiting at night looking for a place to stay, there are plenty of nearby inns and B&Bs for you to choose from, so no excuses!
Big thanks to Alan, the Head Chef Nick Allen and the whole team for inviting us along, you’ve started an obsession and we’ll be back very soon!
Vallum Farm and Restaurant, Military Road, East Wallhouses, Newcastle, NE18 0LL. Visit http://www.vallumfarm.co.uk/ for further info of hit them up on Twitter: @VallumRest.
We were invited along and therefore received complimentary food for the purpose of this review. All opinions are true to experience and photographs are my own, taken throughout our visit. For further information on Scran on the Tyne’s sponsored post policy, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.