Dinner review: Sycamore fills the gap

Dean Bailey enjoys dinner at Corbridge’s much talked-about new dining destination, Sycamore

As foodie destinations go, Corbridge is a good one. From quality dining to buzzing tearooms, you can graze its historic streets all day and evening should the fancy take you, and invest in quality local produce to take home.

In the last decade, I’ve eaten at the old town hall at the foot of Hill Street many times; first when it housed a fine coffee shop and art gallery, then at the restaurant which followed. This landmark building’s third transformation in 10 years heralds Sycamore with chef Alex Robb (ex-Walwick Hall and The Lord Crewe Arms) at the helm, and villagers have been abuzz with anticipation while work has gone on to revamp this much-loved building.

I’m keen to see the transformation too, and delighted to discover the old town hall has been treated to a distinguished, elegantly understated makeover which reveals the best of its historic spaces. Exposed brickwork, dark wood and muted tones create a classic contrast to the cleverly contemporary bar, while the view up the hill with the comings and goings of the village is as beguiling as it was in the days when sturdy village burghers debated local issues into the night.

The seasonal menu is balanced, uncluttered and designed to warm the stomachs and souls of diners seeking proper Northumbrian flavours. Thus we start with a superb sourdough made along the road in Hexham which we heap with whipped salted butter. There is then butter-soft braised beef shin enclosed in a crisp crumb which provides a delicious foil for the meltingly tender meat within, while a seasonally robust duck terrine is served with a tangy sweet red onion chutney which cuts efficiently through the richness of the duckmeat.

We gobble up a wild mushroom risotto which is generous in size and flavour, its mix of earthy and more delicate seasonal ’shrooms making their presence felt while bathed in the creamy rice. Pink roast rump of lamb, meanwhile, sits contentedly on a cradle of winter vegetables with braised lamb shoulder wrapped in another delicious crumb and a flavourful jus.

What better than to end with a rich sticky toffee pudding doused in thick butterscotch sauce with a dollop of Jersey vanilla ice cream, and a rhubarb and apple crumble equipped with the perfect autumnal balance of tarty sweetness. It’s all delicious and augurs well for Sycamore, where excellent produce is treated to skilled execution and the service is attentive while unfussy. Our dinner is £120 for two with drinks and we will return as Sycamore grows into the gap left while this proud building was uncharacteristically empty. I trust it will put down strong roots that endure for years to come.

Sycamore, Princes Street, Corbridge, NE45 5AD, tel 01434 239 454, sycamorecorbridge.com

Sign up to our news
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us.