ROMALDKIRK, Barnard Castle, DL12 9EB
Overlooking the village's old stocks and water pump, this creeper-clad stone built coaching inn stands on the village green, while next door is the Saxon church known as 'The Cathedral of the Dale'. Step inside the 18th-century pub to be greeted by fresh flowers, varnished oak panelling, old beams, and gleaming copper and brass artefacts, then enter the quirky little bar and you'll encounter oak settles, a vast dog grate, old prints, carriage lamps and rural curios. In the secluded lounge you can retire to a wing-backed chair and be lulled by the ticking of a grandfather clock, with maybe a glass of Marston's Wainwright or Black Sheep. The chefs use the best local produce sourced from Teesdale farms and sporting estates, as well as fish from the north-east coast, to create their imaginative, seasonal menus. Drop in at lunchtime for a just light bite or from the à la carte choose perhaps a home-made steak and ale pie or a seasonally inspired fish dish such as pan-roasted fillet of hake with brown shrimp fritter, Jerusalem artichoke, kale and rosemary cream. In the evening food can be enjoyed either in the bar area or in the oak-panelled restaurant. The cuisine style combines modern British cooking with a nod to the traditional Dales setting of The Rose & Crown. Typical dinner menu dishes are charred mackerel with compressed cucumber, pickled artichoke and artichoke broth; and pan-fried venison, mini venison cottage pie, baby carrots, kale, root vegetable purée and thyme jus. The service is professional yet friendly and the overall ambience is relaxed and comfortable.