The Orangery at Rockliffe Hall

British, Modern European·
Silver Award

SquareMeal Review of The Orangery at Rockliffe Hall

Silver Award

Rockliffe Hall has many strings to its bow – a cohort of luxury suites, a state-of-the-art spa and an 18-hole parkland golf course for example – but its flagship restaurant, The Orangery, is a gastronomic destination in its own right. This spacious, light-filled room is flanked by bronzed pillars and topped with a soaring glass ceiling, while soft carpets, widely-spaced tables and high-backed chairs place emphasis on its commitment to comfort and luxury.

A brigade of knowledgeable staff set the standard for an evening of well-rehearsed hospitality. Everyone seems to have a role: there’s a friendly-faced waiter to guide us to our seats, another to pour our water, one more to take our order, and another to deliver it to our table. There’s also an in-house sommelier on hand to answer any wine-related queries and recommend, expertly might we add, the perfect pairings for our meal.

The kitchen has recently been taken over by Paul Nicholson, who doesn’t veer far from the restaurant’s classic style, but clearly takes great care in attention to detail and execution. We dined a la carte, a three-course extravaganza which is proceeded by Paul’s take on a bread course: still-warm cheese scones served with cultured butter and an umami-rich onion and thyme cappuccino. More restaurants could do with a course like this.

Our starter, a tarragon-heavy risotto with crisp Hen of the Woods mushrooms, was creamy and warming, although lacked the nutty flavour of celeriac the menu promised. Main course was a triumph though: slow-cooked ox cheek that melted at the slightest nudge, served with a deeply flavoruful bone marrow puree and an intense sticky jus. It was a dish that you don’t ever want to end. Further evidence of Paul’s definitive skill came with dessert, a light and silky egg custard slice, topped liberally with powdery nutmeg and paired with a lip-smacking rhubarb ice cream.

These four courses are yours for the price of £70, while a bottle of wine starts from £40 (although the list includes 400 odd bins). So no, it’s not cheap, but you’re guaranteed a fantastic meal, fairly priced, accompanied by impeccable service in exchange.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
British, Modern European
Fine dining, Glamorous, Luxury, Quiet conversation, Romantic, Traditional, Widely spaced tables
Food Occasions
Alfresco And Views
Great views
Special Features
Vegetarian options, Wheelchair access
Perfect for
Birthdays, Celebrations, Romantic, Special occasions


The Orangery at Rockliffe Hall is a modern British restaurant headed up by chef Paul Nicholson. With an ethos rooted in sustainability, the menu changes often in line with the seasons and much of the produce used is grown in the walled kitchen gardens or foraged within the estate, so you can guarantee only the freshest items make it to your plate.

The space itself is a marvel to look at. As the name suggests, this room is flooded with natural light thanks to a glass roof and large windows which look out onto the hotel’s stunning 18-hole golf course. While vast copper-coloured pillars draw the eye upwards towards its impressive rooftop. The generous size of the room ensures parties are guaranteed plenty of space between tables, and indeed it would serve as a suitable spot for both large celebrations or more intimate dinners.

The restaurant offers a la carte and tasting menus, both of which focus on seasonal, fine dining dishes executed with finesse. All meals at The Orangery begin with cheese scones served with an onion and thyme cappuccino. While a typical three-course dinner might feature quail with turnip, garlic and madeira to start, followed by ox cheese with brassicas, malt and smoked bone marrow for main course. Dessert continues the classic theme, with dishes such as Valrhona chocolate mousse with banana and passion fruit.

There’s also a lengthy wine list which features around 400 bins, including some of the best wines from across the globe. This means that there’s a mix of more familiar bottles and rare and premium wines, so you’re guaranteed to find something you like. If not, an in-house sommelier is happy to advise with recommendations. While a team of expert mixologists concoct a series of cocktails for a tasty pre or post dinner tipple.


Who is the head chef?

The head chef is Paul Nicholson.

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Is there a dress code?

The dress code is smart-casual for evening dining (no trainers, denim, shorts or sportswear). Jackets and collared shirts are preferred for gents.

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Hurworth Place, Hurworth-on-Tees, Darlington, County Durham, DL2 2DU

01325 729999 01325 729999


Opening Times

Mon 18:00-21:00
Tue 18:00-21:00
Wed 18:00-21:00
Thu 18:00-21:00
Fri 18:00-21:00
Sat 18:00-21:00
Sun 18:00-21:00


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01325 729999 01325 729999

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