Whisk yourself off to Monte ‘Darlo’ and you’ll find it’s a foodie haven that’ll satisfy the most insatiable of appetites. Here’s where to go …
Cracking Cocktails at Prego, in Grange Road
From Pink Mojitos to a Red Hot Passion, Prego is well known in the area for pretty awesome drinks.
During the day, it is a coffee shop that offers paninis, bacon and blue cheese scones and cakes, but by night it turns into a swanky cocktail bar. It’s open from 8.30am to 10pm, with food finishing at 4pm.
Facebook: Prego Cafe & Wine Bar
Fancy Food at The Bay Horse, in Hurworth
Stylish but with a laid-back atmosphere, The Bay Horse is somewhere you can relax and tuck into seriously good food.
Flamboyant chef-patron Marcus Bennett has managed to tick all the boxes when it comes to combining fine-dining food in informal surroundings.
The pub and restaurant, with stone-flagged flooring, wood- panelled walls and open fires has a cosy atmosphere. When it comes to food, it’s a more fine- dining affair, with unbelievably good at good prices.
Make sure you check out Italian restaurant Cena and Muse Continental Cafe, both in Yarm – which are also owned by Marcus.www.thebayhorsehurworth.com
Coffee and Cake at Origins, Grange Road
Origins homeware boutique in Grange Road got savvy – it opened an adjoining coffee shop – because who doesn’t want coffee and cake when shopping?
But this isn’t just any coffee, what makes it so fabulous is that it’s taking it to the next level and having its own blends created – and the milk used is organic.
There’s also a range of teas such as jasmine, and Origins offers gluten-free brownies and other delicious treats such as cappuccino and carrot cake, chocolate orange cake, courgette and lime cake and even Prosecco cake with lemon drizzle.
Hand-made, lemon shortbread biscuits are served with each cuppa and be sure to try out the gourmet chocolates available, too.
Gastropub grub at The Fox Hole, Piercebridge
Chef-patron Ellie Richmond cooks up a storm at The Fox Hole Pub & Kitchen.
People flock from across the region to sample her gastropub style food. On the menu is everything from fish pie and pork belly to Punjabi spiced lamb shank and Ellie uses locally-sourced and foraged ingredients.
As well as exceptional food, the restaurant offers stunning views. There’s a gorgeous garden to sit and sup in during the warmer months and Ellie’s partner, Jack – a drink expert in his own right – has carefully crafted an award-winning drinks menu. There are local beers, ales and gins but his speciality is organic wines.
Look out for The Fox Hole Pub & Kitchen’s food and drink events this spring and summer. Check out what’s happening on on the website. www.the-foxhole.co.uk
Gin O’clock at Vesuvio Wine Bar, Houndgate
A wine merchants, wine bar and Ginporium all in one, Vesuvio is where you’ll find the hip crowd hanging out.
The intimate bar, with wine barrels as tables and a huge drinks offering – is owned by Darren Shield – and when it comes to wine and gin, he knows his stuff.
He’s even infusing his own gin mixes that come in the form of Jaffa Cake Gin; Bloody Mary Gin and popular Pina Colada Gin.
Darren has a passion for wine and he’s visited vineyards around Europe, helping him put together an extensive offering.
Reds include Italian Gran Passione and Spanish Espelt Saulo and if you fancy something different to Prosecco, try the Collavini II Grigio Spumante.
Wine tastings are held every month, where you can sample wines from around the world.
Call 01325 78856.
Greek chic at Santorini Greek Cafe and Restaurant, Tubwell Row
If you’re looking for a little Greek chic, this is the place to visit.
It’s been opened by Georgios Latousakis, a talented chef who’s worked in a string of five-star hotels.
Now he’s gone back to his cooking roots and is serving up mouth-watering meze (Greek tapas) and other traditional dishes at his cafe and restaurant.
Choose five meze for£16 or £20 including feta saganaki (shallow-fried feta); dolmadakia (vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs); and tyrokafteri (feta with cream cheese, jalapeño, chilli and onion).
Beef stifado, lamb kefte and moussaka can be enjoyed for mains and Georgios offers a range of chef specials too.
Tapas Time at The Wandering Duck, Grange Road
Waddle in to Darlington’s new tapas bar and you’ll not be disappointed. There’s a delightful array of tapas on the menu, from sharing meat platters – with air-dried beef, chorizo and salami – hummus, sun- dried tomatoes and a good selection of cheese, too.
The new venture is the brainchild of Andrew Storey and Lyndsey Murray, owner of Black Olive Deli just a few doors down.
It’s not just their tapas that’s pulling in the crowds, on an evening, they have a cracking cocktail list with delicious concoctions such as Vanilla Berry, Basil Smash and the Film Star Martini. From breakfast in the morning, cakes and churros and lunch during the day, and tapas, wine and cocktails each evening, you’d be quackers not to try it.
Its slogan says “superb, fresh Italian food” but we think it’s more than that.
At Al Forno, you can enjoy Italian cuisine with seafood pastas, pizzas, risotto and steaks – but slip downstairs and you’ll find a sassy Champagne lounge that’s full of character.
In the main restaurant, indulge in antipasti sharing platters of cured meats and there’s an afternoon tea with
an Italian twist. It features marinated olives, cured meats and sun-dried tomatoes, and sandwiches are swapped for bruschetta and ciabatta with a variety of toppings and fillings.
When it comes to the desserts, cannoli, aragostine and barchette have various cream fillings, from hazelnut praline, pistachio, cappuccino and lemon and white chocolate. Every Tuesday and Thursday steak nights are held, with two steaks and a bottle of wine from only £29.95.
In Bar Forno, the Champagne and cocktail lounge, there’s a cocktail and meze menu – or why not enjoy a cocktail masterclass with the ladies or gents? www.al-forno.co.uk