Truth be told, we were ready for a burger.
Our constitutions had been battered, buttered and bloated over the last few days which was all well and good but by now we were ready for a bit of culinary rough. Something, preferably, with 0 stars on the food hygiene ratings. We’ve all been there.
In a fit of OCD prior to the trip, however, we’d booked in at Restaurant DH1 which is a pleasant amble up and around a few Durham streets we wouldn’t have otherwise come across. And, enjoying a drink in the garden whilst we forlornly looked for a page marked “Trash” on the menu, we bucked up, buckled down and went all in on the Tasting Menu. (50 quid each.)
Screw you, gout.
It was the right call.
Anywhere that gives you posh prawn cocktail on posh bread as a nibble gets a thumbs up from us. And when the other appetisers are crunchy beetroot with whipped goats cheese, and a light but massively flavoured mushroom tart with crispy bacon one thumb becomes two. Fonz-style.
Oysters – breadcrumbed, fried and served on a punchy seaweed mayo – gave us the hit of posh-trash our arteries had been craving in those long, cold-turkey hours since breakfast. We smiled like buffoons.
Faultless (honest) chunks of mackerel and sea bream were fired out next and the bits that came with them were equally as deserving of their place on the plate as the fish.
Charred cucumber, crisp radish and horseradish ice-cream with the mackerel made it a light summery affair, and the mussels that came with the meaty bream were fat, fresh little blighters.
Rewind to the menu-perusal and we’d nearly gone for the veg tasting option. Probably (definitely) because the dishes looked impressively imagined, but possibly because our closest encounter with actual veg recently had been a parsley garnish on a fried egg.
Anyway. Next up, buttery belly pork, sharpened up with apple puree, fell just the right side of ‘really rich’. Despite being a slab of pig, slow cooked for an age, it managed to be light and more-ish.
Duck next. A big, pink wodge of it with some charred broccoli, a good gravy and some neat splodges of orange puree. We were starting to flag by now, and the rich-o-meter was pushing the red, but as a stand alone main course this would ordinarily tick all the right boxes.
The rhubarb in the first of a couple of puddings was from Yorkshire, we were told. And once we’d dabbed the proud but homesick tear from the eye and had a quick rendition of ‘On Ilkley Moor Bar T’at’ we fully enjoyed its tartness with the cakey ginger parfait. Refreshing stuff.
But read this for a denouement: aerated chocolate, salted caramel, popcorn. In effect, an homage to the Aero.
The silence as we devoured it was broken only by the words, whispered breathlessly and to nobody in particular; “this is something you should eat alone.” Make of that what you will.
The cooking here’s tight and precise without losing anything in flavour. Everything sits on the plate looking pretty for a reason. Service is informal but confident and attentive.
And to think we nearly, laughably, stupidly, cancelled our reservation to have a burger. Fools.