Hexham is a lovely town that’s about half an hour’s drive outside of Newcastle city centre. It’s an old market town, with beautiful architecture, cobbled streets and, as it turns out, a whole host of delicious restaurants. Hexham is definitely worth a visit from the city centre and you can get the train from Central Station regularly and cheaply.
I was invited to take a look around the town by Hexham BID – a company dedicated to supporting the business community there to thrive and grow. As a result, we toured around a number of restaurants to get a real feel for what is on offer there.
We started our meal safari at the small, but well-formed Bouchon Bistrot. We only had the chance to taste canapes, but they were delicious morsels of food and definitely whet my appetite for the rest of the menu. We tried salmon blinis, charcuterie and amazing crumbed goats cheese balls. I enjoyed the food I tried, but it maybe wasn’t enough to give a proper review!
The restaurant itself has won Best European Restaurant at the North East Restaurant Awards and serves warming French cuisine, with dishes like escargots (£6.00 – £9.50), steak frites (£17.50) and crème brûlée (£5.50). For me, the menu is a little on the pricey side, but they do also offer an early evening menu, which you can find out more about here. I love how cosy the little space was and I heard that it’s a date night favourite with the locals.
Salute is a new place in Hexham – a traditional Italian lunch restaurant from the same family as city centre favourite, Pani’s. Salute is all about simply made, fresh Italian classics that are packed full of flavour. We tried a few salads, spinach and anchovy flatbread and salmon bruschetta. The bread was crisp, the salads so, so fresh and so tasty.
Sadly Salute doesn’t seem to have a restaurant or a social media account, which is rare in this day and age! Also frustrating, as I can’t link out for you to find out more for yourself, but trust me, this is authentic Italian food at its finest. Prices are very reasonable – around £5 – £6 for a salad and £4 for bruschetta. I’d definitely pop here for lunch if I was in the area.
The Heart of Northumberland
Onto mains at The Heart of Northumberland. This is a classic, British country pub, with exposed brick, comfy leather sofas, an open fire and a whole range of craft beers. Apparently, it used to be a really rough pub, with sticky carpets and grimy corners, but it has been totally transformed.
Here, we tried a whole host of incredible food from the seasonally changing menu and I’ve got to say, this was my favourite stop on the tour. We started with a platter (£14.95) with scotch egg, crusty bread, game terrine (which I did not eat) and fish fritters. A great selection of food, in particular the scotch egg.
For main courses, I fell head over heels for the stuffed belly pork with mash (approx. £11.95). The meat was soft and didn’t taste fatty and the stuffing was incredibly tasty. The mash and greens were flavourful and buttery and the dish was rounded off with a generous serving of gravy.
The classic fish and chips (£11.95) was all right, but a little on the greasy side – there are definitely better choices to make that are a bit more unusual, like the fish with grape crust and borlotti beans (approx. £13.50), which is creamy yet light. I tried some hand cut chips to go with them that were very naughty and very tasty, although I could have swerved the bloody mary ketchup that it came with.
We finished our tour at ice cream parlour, Molly Moo’s. Not a great spot for me, given I can’t eat cows milk – all the ice cream is Beckleberry’s and is all chock full of dairy. The flavour range looked good, and I definitely wanted to get my hands on one of the Crunchie milkshakes! The only choices for me that evening were hot chocolate (made with rice milk) or sorbet. I plumped for the sorbet. I do love a good, fruity, flavoursome sorbet, but unfortunately this one was a bit icy and crunchy. I wish I’d gone for the hot chocolate!
That said, other people said their ice cream and milkshakes were delicious – I’m afraid I’m just not the right person to give a verdict on that! The team there did say they are planning on bringing in many more dairy free options and are open to suggestions and requests for flavours.
If you’re ever out West from the Toon, try one of these spots and let me know what you think. And if you want to find out more about other places in and around Newcastle, take a look here.
I was provided my food free of charge in return for a blog post, but all opinions are my own.
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