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It may be no more than a dot on the map, but the hamlet of Summerhouse now boasts one of the north-east’s more ambitious and ‘evolving’ kitchens – plus a magnificent wine cellar to boot. Occupying a Grade II-listed former inn once frequented by the eponymous hunt, this reinvigorated restaurant-with-rooms is elegantly contemporary in style with proceedings now focused on just one über-sophisticated tasting menu of 10-15 courses from the cutting edge of modern British cuisine – with added delights if you plump for the ‘chef’s table’ experience. Self-taught James Close is working wonders here and his cooking (now touting two Michelin stars) is exceptionally skilful – witness voguish nibbles ranging from crab tacos or Lindisfarne oysters cooked at 62 degrees. The seasons also rule when it comes to plates of autumn salad, Cumbrian lamb, raw beef or razor clams with celeriac and almonds. After that, flavours collide in a tart of mango, yuzu and coconut, while black olive and chocolate keep company with sheep’s yoghurt; also prepare yourself for the enigmatically titled ‘Skull and Buddha’. Service is top-drawer, and the magisterial wine list offers pedigree, class and value across the rangve.
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