A COUNTY Durham venue promising to offer a "premium" experience has made its debut after more than three years in the making.

The long-awaited, The Curious Mr Fox in Durham City has finally been revealed after opening to diners and drinkers on Friday.

The bar and restaurant, which has three different "themed" rooms – and a "Michelin" chef, has been transformed from a barbers, cafe and derelict buildings.

Located on the edge of The Riverwalk development and Framwellgate Bridge, the venue has seen a barrage of bookings and interest in the weeks leading to its launch.

The Northern Echo had a first look around and met the people behind the idea, and those in charge of running it.

Explaining that it is aiming to have an exclusive feel, while being open to everyone, general manager Nick Alexander said the reaction from customers had so far been "unbelievable." 

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The Curious Mr Fox near Framwellgate Bridge in Durham City Pictures: JIM SCOTT

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The Fox's bar, which also includes outdoor seating, and is designed for pre-dinner drinks and those wanting cocktails 

He told The Northern Echo: "We're trying to do something in Durham that hasn't been done for a long time - we're trying to offer really high-end premium food, really high-end premium drinks.

"The people of Durham deserve this, and they need somewhere where they can come out and have a good night and do just that – and the reaction from people has been unbelievable."

Offering something different, the family-run venue is made up of a bar, and three themed rooms each with their own "mood" with a unique design, and even scent.

Each room serves a different purpose, with the more secluded Fox's Club designed for speciality drinks and comes complete with its own menu. 

Meanwhile, the "outside inside" inspired Ivy Room, and more ornate Oyster Room has been set up for fine-dining with meals curated by former Darlington Rockliffe Hall chef, Paul O'Hara.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr O'Hara - who has worked at Michelin star venues - said: "I believe in what the family is trying to do. That’s why I have come onboard."

Understood to be one of just a few of its kind in the region, an "invite only" table has been placed in the kitchen offering guests a chance to see exactly how their meal is prepared.

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Much of the interior design has been created by Seaham-based TCL, with input from the team 

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The Fox's Club has been aimed as a more 'private' setting, but remains open to those wanting to try its speciality menu

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The venue offers views of Durham's North Road right the way up to the railway viaduct

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The Ivy Room, which has its own scents and a mix of real and synthetic plants for decoration

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Those either dining or drinking in The Ivy Room will get views of Durham Cathedral

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It comes complete with its very own street lamp adding to its "outside indoors" feel

A total of 40 full and part-time jobs are set to be created once the business is fully underway with teams serving up to 90 customers at any one time, limited to keep service personal.

The idea of the venue came from professional chef and businessman Trevor Davis, who runs a number of other venues in the city including the Food Pit and Old Toms Gin Bar.

Mr Davis, who lives near Durham and is the co-owner of The Curious Mr Fox, said the project had very much been a team effort among family, friends and investors.

He said: "This is just fantastic to see it open, everyone that's been involved has put a lot of effort in to get this building working."

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The ornate and main restaurant, The Oyster Room which has been designed to include bespoke fixtures and fittings

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The seating area takes inspiration from its name, which was thought of by Mr Davis' son, Ben 

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Those seated in The Oyster Room can either see along Durham's Riverwalk or across Framwellgate Bridge towards the Cathedral

Admitting working with centuries-old buildings had been challenging, Mr Davis said three buildings had been converted into one as part of the project.

He said: "That's why when you come in, every room here is at a different height and level – but that adds to the quirkiness, and every room is different as a result."

He said that a great deal of time had been spent ripping out "rotting" parts of the buildings that have since been absorbed into the venue. 

But paying off, Mr Davis said that he believed the concept would bring a "boost" to the city and that he hopes it will attract interest from far and wide.

Hinting that he wanted to mirror the idea at another North East location, he added that plans for that were in motion.

The bar and restaurant at The Curious Mr Fox opens daily.