Stuart Forster reviews the experience of dining at The Rib Room Ramside Hall restaurant in Durham, England.
The Rib Room, in Durham, is one of the restaurants at the Ramside Hall hotel. The brasserie-style dining establishment holds a reputation for being one of northeast England’s premier steakhouses.
Disclosure: Stuart was invited to dine as a guest of the Rib Room, which did not review or approve this post. Some of the links below and banners are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The restaurant made a stylish first impression. We — myself and my brother — were greeted and shown to seats on a semi-circular leather banquette by a dark wood table. Behind us, beyond a low brass rail, was a pale yellow wall packed with artwork in golden frames. Most of the pictures depicted wine, undoubtedly the drink of choice for the majority of steak eaters in the Rib Room. There was, I noticed, even a miniature black Beaujolais apron in one frame.
The Rib Room restaurant
In the corner, within touching distance, stood a display of eight Taittinger Champagne bottles, ranged according to size, reminding me of stackable Russian dolls. Was the largest called a Methuselah or a Salmanazar? That discussion was in full flow when Jean, our waiter for the evening, returned with menus and the Rib Room’s sizable wine list.
Dressed in a waistcoat and black apron, Jean’s accent was, like the décor of the dining room, unmistakably French. Over the course of our meal, while discussing cuts of meat and accompanying wines, his knowledge was evident, enhancing our dining experience.
Would we care to start with an aperitif? The Cocktail of the Week was a cranberry citron cosmo but, after a busy day, the prospect of anything too boozy simply didn’t appeal to either of us. Normally a martini or a mojito would be ideal. Instead, we opted for refreshing mocktails.
at Ramside Hall hotel
We wrestled with our choice of starters for far longer than should ever be the case. Would it be the Lindisfarne oysters, the butternut squash soup or the charcuterie sharing platter? Houses, no doubt, have been bought with far less ponderous consideration and discussion. Eventually, we decided on a cheddar-laced soufflé, served in an individual pan, and the seafood risotto.
Both were very good. The risotto (also available as a main) was creamy and rich in flavour, topped by a seared salad, clams and a couple of expertly cooked, succulent king prawns.
Across the far side of the high room, with Victorian-style stucco ceiling decoration, I noticed a chalkboard sign stating, “All our meat is sourced from local farms.”
“We’re serving Hereford beef from a farm at Bishop Middleham in County Durham,” elaborated Jean.
“Hereford cattle are smaller than most, with more fat than many breeds…fat is flavour,” he added with a knowing nod before suggesting we head through the restaurant for a peek in the glass-sided meat locker. The meat is hung and aged there for at least 28 days before being chopped and served.
Best steak in Durham?
Though the Rib Room’s menu features seasonal specials and fish dishes we both arrived keen to try a couple of the restaurant’s signature steaks.
The 20-ounce rib eye is a special of the house. The Chateaubriand and 32-ounce tomahawk are both for sharing.
Jean recommended the 16-ounce T-bone steak, medium rare, as a way of trying two cuts of meat. I followed his advice, medium-rare, with sweet potato fried and pepper sauce.
My brother, meanwhile, chose an eight-ounce fillet, also medium-rare, served with a side order of fat chips plus garlic and parsley butter. He compared his steak — almost two fingers thick — to those served with good Malbec wine in the parrillas (steak restaurants) of Buenos Aires.
I’ve eaten steak on five continents and believe my T-bone was up there with the very best of them in terms of flavour and texture.
(I’m wary of gushing, overly complimentary restaurant reviews, particularly on blogs, so don’t say that lightly. Compliments to The Rib Room’s chef for an outstanding job.)
Among the best restaurants in Durham
The home-style ice creams and sorbets appealed but to end our meal we chose the salted caramel tart, served with ice cream, and a traditional British option — sticky toffee pudding.
There was something deeply satisfying about seeing the warm and buttery, pecan-laced caramel sauce ooze and plop from the ceramic jug it arrived in, partially melting a ball of vanilla ice cream in the process. Not overly sweet, it proved a fine end to a good meal.
The Rib Room may be marginally more expensive than most steak restaurants across the northeast of England, but in terms of the quality of the food and service, it offers good value for money. I wouldn’t hesitate to dine at the Rib Room again.
Location of The Rib Room
The map below shows the location of The Rib Room restaurant at the Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham:
Travel to Durham
The Ramside Hall Hotel is just off the A690, the road which connects Durham City and Sunderland. Junction 62 of the A1(M) is less than half a mile from the hotel.
Durham City is less than three hours by train from London King’s Cross. Edinburgh is approximately one hour and 45 minutes’ train ride from Durham.
The Rib Room (Carrville, Durham, DH1 1TH; tel. 0191 3865282) is a 10-minutes drive from the centre of Durham City. See the restaurant’s menu, opening times and book a table via the restaurant’s page on the Ramside Hall website.
The restaurant is part of Durham’s Ramside Hall hotel. The four-star hotel has a state-of-the-art spa and gym, two 18-hole golf courses plus a driving range with 16 bays.
Take a look at the This is Durham website for information about things to do and see in Durham City and elsewhere in County Durham.
Thank you for visiting Go Eat Do and reading this post about The Rib Room Ramside Hall restaurant in Durham. Planning a trip to Ramside Hall Hotel? You may also be interested in this post about dining at the hotel’s Fusion restaurant.
Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is a food and travel writer based in North East England.
Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.
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