An old cow barn in a windswept Northumberland field isn’t traditionally where you’d expect to find a nineteen-course fine dining odyssey. Yet, here we are at Pine, snuggled into a pair of leather-backed chairs, watching the rain hammer against huge panoramic windows. The view is no doubt better in the summer, but despite the storm raging outside, Pine has plenty in store to warm the soul.
The agricultural roots of this vast old barn are still evident, but not negatively so. The dining room is airy and spacious thanks to a vaulted ceiling high overhead, and pride of place is given to the open kitchen, where chefs busy themselves smoking whole ducks over the open grill and carefully tweezering starters at the pass. It’s clear that this is a restaurant that cares about the smallest things. Even the menus are a work of art - old menus are reconstituted to make paper for new menus, and sowed with wildflower seeds so guests can plant them in the spring.
This is just one of many strokes of genius at Pine. In the kitchen, Cal Byerley and Ian Waller assemble dishes with surgical precision and a painterly eye. The menu is clever in a macro sense too - nineteen courses have the potential to overwhelm, but there’s a gradual building of flavour and clear consideration of quantity and pacing. Delicious early snacks like blowtorched mackerel with sugar kelp and borage flower, and raw scallop with rhubarb and rose geranium lean into sharp, fresh and herbaceous notes to wake the palate ahead of bolder things to come. Pine’s Evergreen Sour (pine vodka, pine syrup and egg white) is somewhat of a signature and makes an excellent accompaniment to the early courses, before sommelier Vanessa Stoltz takes over to guide you through the rest of the menu.
From there comes a procession of brilliance - an outstanding einkorn sourdough with roasted squash butter and parsnip molasses, a chunky slab of monkfish, spooned generously with a frothy fennel sauce, and the duck we saw earlier, now carved off the bone and drizzled with glossy black garlic jus.
Service is breezy and charming, in a way that makes everything feel effortless and never too much trouble. From front to back, Pine is an incredible achievement, especially given its relative young age. We’re eager to see what else is in store for this rising Northumberland star.