Raby Hunt 

I had never heard about the Raby Hunt restaurant until one of my customers Steve told me about it. Every time he went, he said to me “you must go” this continued for about 4 years. Him talking so passionately about the food imploring me to visit. When the Michelin guide announced the new stars, they were awarded 2. I received an email from Steve and all is said was “2 stars”. Steve’s partner Fiona died earlier this year, Steve said Fiona was just like you, a doer, don’t ever stop doing. So with this in mind, checked the calendar to when could fit a visit in. 

The Raby Hunt only has 2 rooms and is fully booked into next year but they were very helpful in recommending Headlam hall. The place is in the north east between Barnard Castle and Darlington.  They have a great relationship as Headlam drive you to the restaurant and then Raby bring you back.

Headlam hall is a beautiful country house with wonderful spa facilities. We had booked in for a full body massage and when I booked, the therapist asked if we wanted the dual room. Yes I said thinking it would be romantic, though my other half snoring half way through the treatment not so romantic afterall!

Change for dinner and off to Raby Hunt.

I was so excited by this, having followed on twitter and looked online knew we were in for a treat. A glass of champagne whilst perusing the menu. Not that there was a choice. I like a taster menu as there’s no food envy or disappointment at the wrong choice. We decided to do the wine pairing.

First up was raw scallop, I was a bit hesitant but thought just go for it. So simple and just melted on the tongue. The wine with this was a white from East Sussex. Crisp and dry.

Next up was “Caviar” on the menu but was on crispy cod skin. As you put it on your tongue it melted and popped in unison.

Artichoke, not just any artichoke. A dehydrated one filled with a meltingly tender ragu. They had a deliver of fresh white Alba truffle. It was a supplement so decided to just have it on one. Oh my just amazing. It was delicious without the truffle but with it wow took it into food heaven. New wine to accompany this. A Humbrecht Riesling from Alsace.

Next was a signature dish, razor clam. Beautifully presented and every mouthful was a joy.

More wine. A rosè, not usually a fan of this type of wine. But this one won me over and worked so well with the next course of Raw beef. The beef melted in the mouth, for me the nasturtium over powered it. So they were the only morsels left to one side.

Sea bream was next, probably one of my favourite dishes. Super crispy skin and perfectly cooked fish underneath married with creamy cods roe and spinach. Just so simple and brilliantly executed. A South African white wine accompanying.

Winter salad, a work of art. More wine a Malbec this time.

Squab pigeon, another stunning dish. Pigeon is not usually something I would order but this was yummy.

There was an optional cheese course, well would be rude not to. In for a penny and all that. Port too….oh go on.

Sweets next, first up was black olive, chocolate and sheeps yogurt. Intrigued to what this would be. A sharp yogurt ice cream with a black olive crisp and almost a chocolate ganache disc underneath. To accompany this a sweet red wine.

Next was simply “lemon” was surprised to have not 1 but 3 elements to this. First was a lemon and fennel biscuit sandwich with lemon cream in between.

Next was a lemon and poppy seed mini doughnut.

Then the finale a lemon chocolate Bon Bon as soon as in the mouth, pow a sharp lemon liquid explodes.

The finale – skull. A beautiful gold chocolate skull with salted caramel inside. Sublime.

Raby Hunt definitely lived up to expectations well exceeeded them. Wonderful food with great unstuffy service. Jim the restaurant manager/sommelier was so informative and interesting to talk to. The 2 stars are well deserved. With these places it always surprises me how some of its diners don’t appear very excited by the food. Not even interacting with their companion. I guess for some that eating in places of this calibre are a daily/weekly occurance. For me it’s a real treat and something to savour, enjoy, get food giddy over. I can completely see why Steve wanting me to come here. Wonder if he’ll pick up the bill??!

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