Upon arriving at the restaurant, my guest and I within seconds received a warm welcome from the maître d' who took us to our table in the middle of the restaurant. After being seated, I admired the décor of the restaurant, which is described as a Victorian brasserie-inspired interior and seamlessly mixes aspects of both modern and Victorian design. The high ceiling of the dining room allows for a range of luxurious yet quirky light fittings, which made the room very light and warming despite it being breezy outside. One wall was adorned with pictures of local coastlines and heritage spots, which was a pleasant reminder that, despite being tucked away in the quiet end of Queen Street, we were still in the heart of beautiful Northumberland. The beauty of the décor, however, should have been no surprise; the restaurant is in fact named after John Dobson and William Parnell, who designed the original building in 1863 as two of the city’s Victorian architectural stalwarts.
My guest and I dined from the set menu, which offers three courses for £25. This menu offered a good amount of choice, with diners able to choose between four dishes for each course.
Whilst waiting for our starters to arrive, we were served a complimentary portion of homemade sourdough with seaweed butter, alongside a bowl of smoked salmon cream cheese with tomato and prawn crackers on top as an amuse-bouche. The delicious smoked salmon was a wonderful touch to whet our appetites while we waited for the starters.
For my starter, I had the confit duck terrine which was served with a bergamot puree, slices of caramelised orange and orange peel. The dish was laid out beautifully, with the orange and cress providing pops of bright colour. The terrine itself was absolutely delicious with a wonderful strong flavour that was complimented by the orange. My only regret was not saving my bread to eat with it. My guest had the spring vegetable salad which she assured me was delicious whilst also being a perfectly light starter to begin a three course meal.
For my main I opted for the pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin, which was served with a blue cheese sauce, smoked almonds and broccoli. Whilst being ingredients that I enjoy eating, I was initially sceptical of how the various components would taste together in one dish, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I had had the most reservations about the blue cheese sauce, as this is something I often have a Marmite-like relationship with, however the sauce was deliciously creamy without too much of the sharp tang often associated with blue cheese. I was amazed by how well this complemented the pork, which was served deliciously tender. The sauce is served in a small jug, so that the diner can decide how much to pour on their meal, but I was surprised to find myself polishing all the sauce off happily. My guest chose the pan-fried salmon, which was served with heritage potatoes from Tiptoe Farm in North Northumberland, brown shrimp, capers and a nut pesto. My guest particularly enjoyed the generous portion of salmon, which was crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside.
Throughout the night I had seen waiters bringing out banana and Dulce de leche choux buns to our fellow diners, and I was eagerly awaiting my turn to try one after hearing high praise for them echo throughout the restaurant. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that it is served with a Horlick’s sauce, as from my experience I know Horlick’s only as a bedtime beverage that my grandparents had always enjoyed rather than a culinary delight. Unfortunately, however, I was informed that the last portion of this had just been sold. Despite this, I still had three desserts to choose from on the set menu, and my guest and I both opted for the selection of ice-cream and sorbet as a refreshing way to end our indulgent evening. Whilst waiting for this to be served, we were presented with a small bowl of a chocolate and salted caramel ganache with chocolate crumbs sprinkled top. Whilst being incredibly rich with its indulgent chocolate flavour, the small portion of this meant that it was not too sickly so that we could enjoy it whilst still having space for our desserts after. Despite not getting my desired choux bun, I thoroughly enjoyed the trio ice-cream and sorbet. The three flavours chosen were different enough from each other that they contrasted without clashing. Whilst often being perceived as the boring choice, I believe that very few ice-cream flavours can beat a good-quality vanilla, and this I thoroughly enjoyed the scoop of vanilla. One beauty of vanilla is that it complements most other flavours, and so it was perfect alongside the two other scoops of ice-cream, one of which was chocolate. The other flavour was something that my guest and I disagreed about; I thought it was caramelised almond whilst she thought it was pistachio. Whatever it was, it was delicious.
Ultimately I thoroughly enjoyed our evening spent at Dobson & Parnell. The waiting staff were incredibly attentive, including filling up our glasses regularly throughout the night. Seating only 65 people, the restaurant has a cosy and intimate feel, which is accentuated by the beautiful high-class décor. The food was delicious, with the portions being the perfect size for us to enjoy three courses without feeling uncomfortably bloated afterwards, and the set menu offered a good amount of choice, with the dishes featuring ethically-sourced seasonal produce from local farms. It comes as no surprise to hear that, since its opening in December 2016, Dobson & Parnell has been listed in the Michelin and Harden’s Guide and has been voted OpenTable’sNorth East Diners’ Choice and in Newcastle Gateshead’s list of top 10 restaurants.
Dobson & Parnell is the perfect choice for students looking for affordable luxury for their graduation day celebrations. The intimacy of the venue, attentiveness of the staff and opulence of the décor make the restaurant a wonderful choice to eat, drink and ultimately celebrate the end of your degree.