Well, it was Derry good to say the least! THIS WEEK WE ARE AT THE DERRY IN LONG NEWTON. DAVE ROBSON GIVES HIS VERDICT.
Name and address: The Derry, Darlington Road, Long Newton, TS21 1BX.
Type of food: A better class of pub cuisine - or, as the website states, "the home of high quality food and drink in Long Newton". The Vane Arms along the way might stake a claim to share that accolade, however, and both are in the top 10 of 291 Stockton restaurants featured onTripAdvisor (The Derry's number one).
Cost of a drink: Pint of Foster's, PS3.70; large glass of house white wine, PS4.95; G&T, PS4.60; fresh orange juice, PS1.90; 10oz Pepsi, PS2.50. First impressions: It used to be called The Londonderry Arms, but the name was changed to the snappier Derry a while back, complete with tasteful refurbishment in a soothing palette of mushroom/grey/black/ cream finishes.
The mastermind behind that metamorphosis has moved on, but the current bosses look to be carrying on the good work and it really is very nice. The tables aren't too close together either, so you feel comfortable from the moment you're seated. And the beer garden - in which I vaguely recall having a refreshing drink a few years back while the children happily ran around - is still large and welcoming. The kids, however, opted against happily running around it this time, on account of now being aged 21 and 19.
Choice of food: Good but not vast, which I always find reassuring - I don't like the thought of chefs trying to do 200 dishes and spreading themselves too thinly. The Derry's choice, however, is ample but not massive - like the stomach it was about to hopefully satisfy.
What we ate: Me and Mrs R like to "dip the Camembert." But this is no euphemism - it's exactly what it sounds, dipping bread or bruschetta into molten Camembert and, washed down with red wine, letting life's stresses fade away as we watch First Dates. Well, spotting that the centrepiece of the PS14.95 "sharing platter" was, indeed, a chance to dip the Camembert in public for the first time meant it was an obvious choice as a starter. It was nigh on fifteen quid, but with its accompanying cured meats, sundried tomatoes, olives and toasted ciabatta, it was ideal to get the tastebuds limbered up.
Dipping bruschetta Camembert washed red For mains, Mrs and Master R chose PS12.95 parmos - and perfectly fine parmos they were - but I opted for a "hot seafood platter" (PS13.95) of baked Queen scallops, cod goujons, tempura king prawns, breaded scampi, fries, salad garnish and tartar sauce.
Incredibly for such a bon vivant as myself, I've never tried a scallop - yes, I know, weird.
But thanks to the Derry, my first taste was very enjoyable, even if they were a bit masked by the gruyere and cheddar crust covering them. The other deep fried, battered fruits de la mer were just right too - not greasy and served in a dinky little metal frying basket which may one day end up on Bargain Hunt.
Daughter opted for the BBQ pulled pork and chargrilled vegetable lasagne, house salad and sweet potato fries (PS13.95) but don't be fooled by the photo, which makes it look a bit over done - it wasn't. And she tells me she "loved it!" (brief but to the point). The other two wimped out of pud but me and my girl are made of sterner stuff, enjoying, respectively, the satisfying but not too sickly apple and cinnamon crumble tart with custard, and the sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel ice cream and butterscotch sauce (PS5.95 each).
The good bits: The food and the atmosphere. It was a busy evening, even though we turned up well before 7pm, but we felt happy and relaxed from the start - and the feeling continued as the courses came and went.
bread or into molten and, down with wine.
What could be improved? Can't think of much. There was a bit of a wait between main course and pud, I suppose, but that's a minor quibble. Otherwise, it was spot on.
Suitable for couple or family? Everyone. It's quite classy but kids are welcome too, especially with that big, enticing beer garden at the back. But it's just as suitable for a romantic meal, a classy lunch or teatime treat or, as on the night we visited, a large group get-together.
Value for money: Just about, given that I've just about recovered from when pubs started charging a pound a pint. But in the current market place - and given the quality of the offering - yes, I'd say so.
Would you go back? Definitely. I was even tempted to give it my first ever five star rating, but only Mrs R gets that, so... Stars: ???? ....
in public for the obvious nigh on but breaded scampi, tartar sauce. (PS5.95 each). The good bits: atmosphere. evening, turned but and as went. What much. wait and pud, I minor quibble. spot on. Suitable for couple or Dipping bread or bruschetta into molten Camembert and, washed down with red wine.
Apple & cinnamon crumble tart with custard
Sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel ice cream and butterscotch sauce
The hot seafood platter: baked queen scallops, cod goujons, tempura king prawns, breaded scampi, fries, salad garnish and tartar sauce
The sharing platter: baked camembert, cured meats, sundried tomatoes, olives and toasted ciabatta
Lasagne and sweet potato