A hidden gem


Jane Pikett takes a trip to Consett and discovers a hidden gem

Essential criteria in persuading the editor to leave her comfy chair: There is good food to be had (goes without saying), there is a hidden gem to be discovered, and there is a dog. Preferably one with spots.

Maddisons1All these carrots were dangled in the same breath as Maddison’s in Consett was mentioned, and I was in the car within a minute.

To start with the dog, she is a dalmatian named Maddison after whom this lovely café/bistro is named. She deserves this accolade because she is beautiful, as all dalmatians are. One day she will meet my spotty dog, Blue, and they will make a family of small spotty dogs and they will have many adventures, just like in that nice film, but that’s another story.

Maddisons2To the hidden gem, and Maddison’s, in the heart of Consett’s bustling Front Street, is a comfort blanket of stripped down timber booths and tables, comfy nooks and crannies, fabulous kitchen smells, and pages from the Beano on the loo wall.

Other touches which make for a welcoming atmosphere include rustic wooden menus, sacking on the stair walls, barrels used for stools, and the friendliest owners and staff you will find anywhere. And scones, more than 400 flavours devised by owner and chef Paul Purvis to date, and the list still growing.

And a fish finger sandwich of the freshest fish and lightest beer batter ever, and the biggest range of gluten-free alternatives I’ve seen (and believe me, I look…), so I can have gluten-free flatbread with smoked salmon, cream cheese and avocado, plus a gluten-free garlic flatbread with mozzarella on the side, because I am greedy. And it is extremely good, which is hard to do with gluten-free, so that means Paul is my new hero.

Maddisons3And we have vegetable chips of parsnip, carrot, and sweet potato, which are just sublime, and homemade coleslaw (ditto), and then a gluten-free chocolate muffin, gluten-free scone, gluten-free choc brownie, and gluten-full orange Matchmaker cake from the huge array of cakes and sweets which adorn the bar.

Oh my, it was all so good, which is why we had to lie down for a while afterwards, which is always the sign of really good food.

Maddisons4Paul is big on local producers like Geordie Banger Co, Lanchester Wines and such like, the breakfasts are amazing and the sarnies, flatbreads, sides, burgers, fajitas, skewers, steaks, and sharing plates all make for much indecision over the menu and require return visits a plenty.

It’s open every lunchtime and on Friday and Saturday evenings and I reckon if you moved it to trendy Grey Street in Newcastle or Grange Road in Darlington it would knock spots off the competition. Hidden in Consett, it’s well worth a trip out. Just go.

Front Street, Consett, DH8 5AQ, tel 01207 583 318, www.maddisonsconsett.co.uk

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