James Close will open a new summer residency at Rockliffe Hall next month after taking over the culinary direction of the venue. 

The well-decorated chef will open the doors of his venture TERRA on June 13, with an ingredient-led menu and relaxed experience for dinner that brings the best of land and sea, from near and far.

Mr Close, former Chef Patron of 2 Michelin Star Raby Hunt, joined Rockliffe Hall, near Darlington, as culinary director in February 2024 to identify opportunities to strengthen the dining experiences at the five-star hotel.

The Northern Echo: Rockliffe HallRockliffe Hall (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

This residency brings his passion, creativity, and skills to diners in an approachable way and is part of developing several varied culinary experiences at the resort.

Mr Close will also open a brand-new restaurant in 2025 that will take diners on a unique journey inspired by global gastronomy.

At TERRA, Mr Close will source the best ingredients from across the UK and beyond to create dishes rooted in his experience, and with a focus on intentional simplicity.

The Northern Echo: James CloseJames Close (Image: Ben Benoliel)

The menu will be split into sections relating to size, offering guests the freedom to create their own dining story, which they can repeat or reinvent with each visit.

Guests will find plates including, Carabineros simply grilled over charcoal with garlic, wine, chilli, and parsley, and served with a fresh-baked baguette, or a signature sushi selection combining Kabayaki eel, foie gras, purple shiso and wasabi.

There will also be dishes for two such as Mr Close'stake on Bouillabaisse with lobster, scallops and seabass, or 65-day aged sirloin cooked on the bone over charcoal with confit red peppers.

The Northern Echo: James Close moved from the Raby HuntJames Close moved from the Raby Hunt (Image: RABY HUNT)

Mr Close, who has a personal passion for wine, wants the residency to offer a more relaxed approach in this area too.

Contemporary wines from around the world as well as some established old-world favourites will be available by the glass, allowing guests to pick and enjoy different glasses as they dine.

A new wine table will take a central position in the restaurant, chilling and displaying bottles to inspire guests’ choices.

The residency will find its home in a first-floor space at the hotel, which has a balcony for drinks and views over the 375-acre estate and 18-hole golf course.

Mr Close said: “At Terra, we are cooking food that focuses on great ingredients and great flavours, both from near and far.

"It’s a relaxed experience where guests can order a selection of plates from different sections of the menu, to share or not, and enjoy with a few glasses of interesting wine.”

Read more: 

Get more content including the stories that matter to your community from The Northern Echo for just £3 for 3 months for a limited time only here.

Shauna Robb, general manager at Rockliffe Hall added: “We are excited to welcome TERRA to the hotel to offer guests and locals a new relaxed dining experience that brings together James’ skills and love for high-quality ingredients.

"It also marks the first phase in developing the offering at Rockliffe Hall as part of our journey to become a world-class luxury destination.”

Mr Close was the first chef in the North East to be awarded two Michelin stars, making his restaurant one of just 20 two-Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK and the only two-star restaurant in the region.

It was also placed fourth in The Good Food Guide’s Top 20 Most Exciting UK Restaurants of 2022.