Appetite 63 – July/August 2021


What’s for dinner?

We can go out again, dear reader, and my goodness, we are blessed…

The life of the professional diner is tough. All that eating out in the best restaurants can be very onerous – What to wear? Which dessert to pick (all of them)? Where to go for one’s third supper out in a week? – as can being regularly invited to sample the latest genius offerings of the region’s finest local producers.

Okay, it isn’t tough, it’s a complete pleasure and one which those of us lucky enough to write about food are hugely appreciative of. Some of the famous food critics can be, to my mind, somewhat waspish, which drives me mad; after all, they’re writing about people’s businesses, places which employ people and can be wiped out in the snide stroke of a pen. If you can’t say something positive about it, don’t write about it, I say.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Guardian’s food reviewer and BBC TV Masterchef judge Grace Dent at Hexham Book Festival the other day. She said she was immensley grateful for her charmed life, and she was generous in her appreciation of the places she gets to eat, and the hard work of the people who work in them. She took time to praise to the skies the dinner she had enjoyed the previous evening at The Beaumont Hotel in the town, which is blessed by excellent places to eat, including The Beaumont, Bichon Bistrot, and The Rat.

During the last lockdown, The Beaumont had a fantastic dining tent on Hexham Abbey’s Cloister Lawn and pulled out all the stops to serve up a sublime menu, team members running up and down Beaumont Street in their aprons between tent and hotel, carrying produce aloft and attending to everyone’s needs beautifully. It gave the town a magical feel and the tent was consistently buzzing, as is the hotel dining room now it’s back in operation, and deservedly so.

This is because the food and service is excellent – as good as any you will find in famous places in London, said Grace Dent, who added that she was blown away by the food on offer in this little market town in Northumberland. Good on her for saying so, and good for us for having wonderful places like this, staffed by great people.

Support them, they’ve had a terrible year and a half, yet they keep going, treating us to dishes made from the region’s sumptuous larder. Eat out… I am, and it’s wonderful!

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