by gordon taylor One of the advantages of living in the North East is the access to Newcastle and some of the finest eating establishments in the region.
From a business lunch perspective, Dobson and Parnell fill the bill perfectly. A colleague, Colin and I, chose this newly opened restaurant during a busy day and were highly impressed by all aspects of the dining experience.
As soon as you walk in, the restaurant oozes class, the investment in décor and work to create a comfortable ambience, is evident. Natural stonework and sumptuous, dazzling, white tiling, reminiscent of the classic wall coverings many schools had in the 1950’s and 60’s, greet and impress you with its contrasting imagery. It works superbly well.
Couple that with a mix of contemporary and traditional lighting and the whole interior is light, giving a welcoming feel. It puts you in the right frame of mind for the culinary experience to come.
Investment doesn’t end there. The tables and seating are comfortable, well set out, allowing for good elbow room. The dining room is a mix of normal table and seating but also has sections where there are well appointed bench style seats, giving the ability to chat to fellow diners in an intimate atmosphere.
We were greeted by the Manager, Florin, a credit to his profession. Throughout our meal, he was highly attentive, not only to us but all the diners in the restaurant. Clearly the attitude of the staff at Dobson and Parnell is to be unobtrusive, though helpful and on call when you need them. It’s something which is difficult to achieve but works so well here.
You’ll have gathered the fabric, customer service and general ambience created in the restaurant could not be faulted. As for the dishes on offer, praise is perhaps not a big enough word for description purposes.
My colleague, Colin, chose from the A La Carte menu, while I plumped for the Daily Set menu offering.
The starter I chose was Line-Caught Mackerel, with Charred alliums, Mackerel Dashi and Allium oil. Much thought had gone into presentation with a sliver of the charred fish dominating the plate and surrounded by the charred alliums along with what seemed a balsamic dressing. As a small side dish, the Dashi arrived containing chopped alliums.
Glancing over at Colin’s starter, I was greeted by the sight of a pair of eyes of his Creel Caught Langoustine looking at me directly. The orange colour of the Langoustine in great contrast to the white bowl it arrived in. Accompanied by Saur Kale, Apple Bisque shells. The taste of the Langoustine was extremely delicate and tasty, the thickened apple bisque and Kale giving a slightly tart alternative to the meat.
For mains, my Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Rare Breed Pork, served with Parsnips, Trivet Onions and Pickled Walnuts was superb. It would be nice to know the type of animal it came from but that’s a minor point. What is important is that the texture and taste of the meat was so different and superior, I may have to stretch a point in going back to ordinary breed pork. This rare breed animal has a fuller and more intense flavour and was cooked to perfection. It was interesting to taste the meat with a helping of parsnip, the onions and the walnut.
Colin chose another sea dish for his main, in Farmed Halibut on the bone, Salsify, Oxtail and Horseradish. A generous portion of the mild, slightly sweet tasting fish dominated the plate. Over cooking of the fish can be a problem, as it has tendency to dry out but my colleague (a chef himself) assured me the cooking was perfection. I tried some of the Salsify, which almost had an Oyster like taste and that with the Oxtail and a good drizzle of horseradish brought out the taste of the meat wonderfully.
Now we come to the desserts. As someone whose figure is akin to that of Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army, this is a part of the meal I always enjoy. My Bitter Manjari Chocolate, Candied Clementine, Pistachio Frangipane is certainly not a dish which is designed with losing weight in mind. It arrived well presented, in a train carriage form, blobs of chocolate heading across the plate with sweet clementine and the Pistachio Frangipane punctuating the spaces. The biggest testament I can give this dish is that it took no time at all to demolish. Superb tasting with much thought gone into the alternative tastes.
Bread and Butter pudding was Colin’s choice, served with baked custard and a large helping of sloe gin berries on the stalk. He pronounced it superb which I think is all we need to say when a Chef comments so favourably on a dish.
Great praise should be showered on the Chef, Troy Terrington, who clearly has been recruited for his skill, as well as his foresight when creating dishes.