A Darlington wine bar will launch its restaurant this week with a menu designed by a MasterChef finalist.

Vesuvio in Darlington will be opening its restaurant, headed by MasterChef quarter-finalist, Matei Baran, on Thursday (October 5).

The restaurant held two tasting menus in September, the last being on Saturday (September 30), and a Sunday lunch this past week to prepare for the venue's debut.

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Mr Baran said: "Absolutely delighted and excited to be hosting the kitchen takeover at Vesuvio.

"The tasting nights have been a huge success and we're looking forward to the French tasting night at the end of the month.

"Looking forward to be bringing a fine dining experience to Darlington and my team and I are really looking forward to working with the team at Vesuvio. 

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Les Fry, owner of Vesuvio, said he could not believe how fortunate the restaurant had been to acquire someone of Mr Baran's calibre.

He said: "We wanted a chef who could do fine dining, but also add some character to the dining as well so it's quite visual.

"We can't believe our luck that Matei walked through the door looking for a place in Darlington.

"What is great is the amount of customers who are excited to be tasting the food."

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Mr Fry said he was looking forward to welcoming customers to the new Houndgate offering.

The lunch menu will consist of two courses and will include starters such as sweet potato and butternut squash veloute, ham hock terrine, smoked salmon carpaccio, and caprese salad.

Main course options will include roasted chicken supreme with braised creamy savoy cabbage; pork fillet wrapped in smoked streaky bacon, sweet & sour glazed bellypork; salmon, creamy light shellfish broth, samphire rosti, crab, dill oil, mussels; sun dried tomato & mozzarella risotto; the steak of the day with hand cut chips, roasted vine tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and peppercorn sauce.

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The dessert menu will also include a wide array of options such as a sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream; espresso martini cheesecake, with a coffee liquer shot and biscuit; and a double chocolate brownie, popcorn, and a vanilla ice cream.

The restaurant have said diners can expect "sublime food, exceptional service and a fine dining experience" delivered by a seasoned professional.

The venue's opening hours will be Monday to Wednesday, 5pm to 9pm; Thursday, 1pm to 11pm; Friday, 1pm to 1am; Saturday, 1pm to 1am; and Sunday, 1pm to 10pm.

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