Katie MacFarlane accepts a dessert challenge at one of Durham’s oldest hostelries

AS I’ve got older, my days of partying are getting less and less and at the grand old age of 27 it’s normally a good meal with loved ones or friends that I most look forward to.

Good food was at the forefront of my mind recently too as Ali and I popped down to the Bishop Auckland Food Festival to see what goodies were in store.

And after an afternoon with friends and a little too much gin, we decided to take ourselves off for an eating out review for a bit of time together before Ali headed back to camp for a few weeks.

So on the advice of my good friend Sarah, we decided to pay a visit to The Pub and Kitchen, in Cassop, one of many of the small villages south of Durham City centre.

It was a really sunny evening as we had enjoyed the first hot day of the year so as we approached at sunset the pub looked very sleepy and picturesque.

We walked in and the atmosphere hit me immediately with how warm and friendly it was with local starting their Saturday night get togethers.

Booking had been so easy with a polite gentleman slotting us in that same day and as we were led through to the restaurant at the back, we were allowed to choose our own table.

Anyone who has read any of my reviews knows I’m always unlucky in this regard so a little part of me jumped for joy when we selected a little table for two right next to the glass wall that had been installed.

The venue proudly boasts it is the oldest pub in County Durham so I’m guessing this feature was new by my gosh didn’t it flood the room with light and being able to watch the sunset really made it feel romantic.

Browsing the menu, we also felt spoiled for choice. I was a tad disappointed that the homemade pork and black pudding scotch egg wasn’t available but happily chose my second option of Craster Kipper pate with toasted sour dough crust and homemade salad (£5.50).

Ali chose the sizzling prawns with toasted ciabatta and crisp salad (£5.95).

When they arrived, both plates were beautifully presented and I instantly wanted to try some of Ali’s prawns as they sat sizzling away in a mini pan.

The juices and flavourings in the oil it was served in were divine and thankfully, being the good husband he is, he let me have one.

I must say they were actually some of the best prawns I have ever tasted as they were plump and juicy and oozed flavour.

My pate didn’t disappoint either although I totally forgot how many bones would be in it so on a few occasions I did have to pick them out but the bread had been ripped up into mouth sized portions and I quickly devoured it.

For main, I ordered the fillet steak with peppercorn sauce and homemade chips (£19.95 and £2.50) while Ali went for the enchiladas (£10.95) and a side of Halloumi fries (£4.50).

Both were quote large portions – I always have my dessert space in the back of my mind – but again beautifully presented and we happily tucked in to both.

My steak was cooked to perfection for the medium rare I’d ordered and came on a bed of chunky chips along with onion rings, salad and mushrooms.

The chips too were closer to potatoes but had that great balance of being light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Ali really enjoyed his enchiladas too which had a good kick of Mexican spice and were also accompanied by a good serving of chips.

He wolfed the halloumi fries down which were thick cut and gooey.

Sadly, we were both defeated by our mains and had to leave a few chips and the only thing we could even slightly complain about was the fact we needed another drink as the spice in the enchiladas really gave a lasting kick.

When the waiter asked us if we would like dessert, we both looked at each other to see if we could accept the challenge.

And even though he’s in the Army, I was the only one brave enough to take on the oh so easy task of ordering one – dessert space check!

I’d clocked the different desserts in a display cabinet as we came in so I knew it would be on my mind through the whole meal and I’ve often considered ordering pudding first.

From the little blackboard presented to me I chose the chocolate mousse (£4.95).

It came in a surprisingly deep dish on a plate and decorated with fresh strawberries, cream and a sprinkle of chocolate powder.

The mousse was rich but also lighter than I expected while the strawberries complimented it beautifully while the waiter anticipated Ali wanting to try and kindly brought two spoons out with it.

By the time we finished, I was definitely in my happy place and think this little gem will become a firm favourite from now on.

The Pub and Kitchen Cassop

Where: Front Street North, Cassop

Contact: 01429-598008

Open: Noon until 11.30pm seven days a week





Food offer: Pub food.

Cheap and cheerful: Creamy garlic mushrooms (£3.95)

Top dollar: Fillet steak (£19.95)

Scores on the doors (food hygiene rating): 4 (Good)