Lunch! Seaham Hall

SeahamWe’d billed it as a sophisticated treat on a Sunday; this magazine’s Girl About Toon Laura Emmerson and me, enjoying a leisurely stroll on the beach with the dogs followed by a lengthy lunch at five-star Seaham Hall prepared in the kitchens of the starry head chef Martin Blunos. What could possibly go wrong?

The combination of sand, sea and two fighting dogs, that’s what. Hers – a husky/collie hybrid bitch of an, erm, argumentative nature – mine, a dotty Dalmatian boy who just wants to be loved. The result was a scrap of such a lively nature that it resulted in both dogs and Girl About Toon on their backsides in the sea.

Thus, my glamorous companion entered said five-star establishment somewhat ruffled, following a vigorous and largely ineffectual rub-down with a dog towel.


Ever onward, however, and she forgot her misfortune at the first whiff of Champagne. Thus, we were away, happily ensconced in the lovely lounge bar, the view of the water sculpture outside enough to keep my youngest, six, entertained and well behaved the whole time; that, and a bribe involving the mention of the magic word (pudding).

I first went to Seaham Hall years ago, when the then-owners Tom and Jocelyn Maxfield had just bought it and were turning it into a superb hotel and spa which gained national renown. It’s had a couple of owners since and has recently been beautifully refurbished in opulent style to create lovely bedroom suites, the lounge bar where we ate, stylish restaurants and Oriental-themed spa.

Blunos, one-time possessor of two Michelin stars, is quite the culinary legend in his own lunchtime, and is putting his unique stamp on this place. His is a colourful, maverick character perfectly suited to Seaham Hall whose own history includes the marriage there of Lord Byron in the 1800s and its use in the 1920s by illegal whisky brewers.

They would, no doubt, appreciate the extremely well-stocked lounge bar and perhaps enjoy the award-winning Coal House Punch cocktail – a blend of Brugal Anejo, a syrup made with Wylam Red Kite ale, lime juice, Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola, Boker Bitters, orange zezt and fresh ginger cubes. The result is a deep purple brew served in a pewter tankard with lumps resembling coal floating in it; an homage to the pitmen who worked down the road from here until Vane Tempest pit closed in the early 90s.

It went down a treat with the pie, mash and green liquor – one of several larger-than-tapas plates we tried which also included a stottie beef burger (which is what it says, with the addition of a chili jam and red onion), and a prawn Martini which fascinated the young ‘un thanks to the large crustacean lying atop it.

Seaham3Sardines Rockerfeller were served in a wee tin, which was a nice touch, while the fish batter platter was light and lovely. And the best bit? Homemade Arctic Roll for afters (yes, really).

The joy of this sort of lunch is in the sharing and the grazing, and as we three dipped in and out of one another’s food and drinks, we felt ourselves transported to another world where grazing all afternoon with nay a care in the world is simply what one does. And not once did anyone draw attention to Laura’s damp bottom.

Seaham Hall, Lord Byron’s Walk, Seaham, Co Durham, SR7 7AG,
tel 0191 516 1400,

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