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Ample Causey to pay another visit
SNOW was on its way, or so the forecast had warned, but what did the weathermen know?
The previous Tuesday we had been basking in a glorious heat wave and I had taken my 18-month old daughter to the seaside for sand castles and ice cream.
As we set off from Gateshead with her grandma in tow there were few stray flakes starting to fall and it was certainly cold enough for the white stuff.
By the time we arrived at the top of the Silver Hills in Stanley it was a full on don’t-open-the-car-door style blizzard.
I was about to point out the scarecrows dressed as a bride and groom when Mother, now Grandma, Havery said: “Look those poor devils, posing for wedding pictures on a day like this.”
It was one of those moments where, if my life was a television sit com, I would turn my head to look straight down the lens of the camera and raise one eyebrow.
Bundling the baby in blankets and coats, we braved the elements, arriving with some relief in the reception of the South Causey Inn, which was instantly welcoming with a warm traditional feel.
We were taken through to the spacious dining room, with its pictures of countryside pursuits, horses and all manner of equestrian activities, reflecting the connection to the neighbouring riding school.
Once seated, a friendly waitress took our drinks order while we examined the extensive menu.
As well as a full a la carte menu of modern European dishes, Italian, Thai and Indian palates are also catered for.
There are lunch specials that will not break the bank, as well as a breakfast menu for people who fancy an early morning treat, but are not guests of the hotel.
To start with, I opted for the warm goat’s cheese, served on a bed of char-grilled vegetables topped with spiced home made chutney with rocket, toasted pine nuts and pesto oil. (£6.95) It was a great dish, beautifully presented but I feel the balance was skewed with rather too much cheese and not so many vegetables.
Grandma Havery, she loves being called that, had no complaints about her prawn cocktail (£6.45) which came served in a tall bowl with a delicious creamy sauce and lots of big prawns.
For the main, I could not resist the 10oz sirloin steak (£16.95) which was served with home-made onion rings, mushrooms, tomato, fantastic peas with pancetta and tomato as well as chunky chips and everything about it was perfect.
I also had a creamy Diane sauce (£3.45) which was very tasty, a little runny for my liking, but enjoyable nonetheless, despite the price.
Mam went for the Greek chicken, which was a breast wrapped in Parma ham cooked with olives, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, served with white wine, laid on top of spinach, pine nuts and pesto linguine served with feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and a rocket salad. (£14.95) Delivered on a plate the size of a dustbin lid, it was an impressive sight and tasted ‘divine’, I am reliable informed.
Outside, the weather continued unabated while we thawed in the very comfortable surroundings, which included a metal cast horse, enthralling for Tilda the toddler.
I almost took her over to the carvery to see the roast hog’s head, but feared this might become a moment psychologists have to work back to in the future so decided against it.
I know she is a big fan of Peppa Pig, but was not sure peppered pig would go down quite so well.
The dessert menu offers a good range of tempting treats for £5.95.
I enjoyed a generous portion of a soft and sweet sticky toffee pudding served with banana and ginger ice cream. Overly indulgent, but so, so good.
Mam had rich chocolate torte, rested on raspberry coulis topped with Turkish Delight ice cream, with a skewer of marshmallows and strawberries.
We both shared with Tilda and the audible squeaks of delight, confirmed the quality of our puds.
All too soon it was time wrap up warm again and brave the flash-in-a-pan arctic blast outside, but I could have easily whiled away a few hours in the snug-looking bar next door while nursing a few ales.
I have made mental note, though, that we will be returning here, whatever the weather.