IT FEELS like it has been a long time coming but the much-talked about riverside development in Durham is nearing completion.

Though many of the eating establishments are yet to open, the Riverwalk is finally starting to get a bit of life about it after long months of refurbishment.

I say refurbishment, but it's almost unrecognisable following more than three years of work to turn it from a rather sad looking shopping centre into an open air complex containing shops, bars restaurants and an Odeon cinema.

The Odeon opened at the start of the summer and was joined in July by Cosy Club, a restaurant which claims to celebrate the "joy of relaxed dining"

Always keen to have a look at the latest going-ons in Durham, we set out one Saturday night to see what Cosy Club and the Riverwalk has to offer.

Having only managed to secure a reservation for the somewhat unfashionable dining hour of 5.45pm we were expecting it to be busy, and busy it was.

As it turned out we hadn't even managed to get any sort of reservation as I was apparently unwittingly outfoxed by their online booking system.

But they were able to squeeze us in at a table next to the patio, giving us a limited view of the river and St Nicholas' Church.

With its high ceiling, it's quite a noisy place - with more of an upbeat, social vibe than a cosy or intimate one.

The Northern Echo: Some of Cosy Club's quirky decorSome of Cosy Club's quirky decor

And there's plenty going on. It looks like it was decorated by a slightly hyper Victorian - paintings crowd the wall from floor to ceiling, while a collection of animal heads keep an eye on proceedings. One wall is a giant wooden carving, while the restaurant is lit from huge, crown like fittings which give an air of being in some sort of faux-medieval dining hall.

The best feature of the restaurant are undoubtedly the huge windows, entirely lining one side of the venue.

Giving a magnificent view of the river and Durham Cathedral, they absolutely make the most of the picture-perfect setting.

The menu itself is super trendy. There's a separate vegan and gluten free menu, and there are other vegetarian options as well.

Cosy Club has gone for a crowd-pleasing approach. Not tied down by any particular cuisine, the chefs have cherry picked popular dishes from all over the world. Thai green curry, Mediterranean mezze, beef brisket and good old fish and chips all sit alongside each other.

Embracing their style, we opted for a medley of tapas style dishes to start. Though each dish could have done just as well as an individual starter, we listened to our rumbling stomachs and opted for three tapas, which were £4.95 each or three for £13.95.

The Northern Echo: Our tapas startersOur tapas starters

Our choices of halloumi sticks with chipotle chilli jam (I told you the food was fashionable), crispy sesame chicken and pulled chicken and chorizo with crispy potatoes were all very tasty.

Like I said - it's a crowd pleaser. Things that were meant to be soft were soft and things that were meant to be crispy were crispy. It was all very well executed.

The Northern Echo: Our posh chicken burgersOur posh chicken burgers

Next up were some posh burgers. Carlo had a chicken, bacon and avocado one (£11.50), while mine was nicknamed 'the golden dame' (£13.75). There was quite a lot going on, with panko-crumbed buttermilk chicken, streaky bacon, smoky red pepper and garlic mayo and - perhaps tipping it over onto the side of too much - a macaroni cheese fritter.

What's that you ask? It's basically the savoury equivalent of a deep fried Mars bar. I could almost feel the saturated fat settling on my hips as the cheesy, carby morsel oozed in my mouth. Totally delicious, but completely unnecessary.

I have to say it almost defeated me but luckily I'm made of strong stuff and in ten minutes was ready to tackle dessert. My initial choice of salted caramel cheesecake was unavailable so I settled on a 'melting chocolate bomb' (£7.50) instead.

I have to say the dessert was good fun. A perfect sphere of chocolate arrived at the table, at which point the waitress poured a jug of hot caramel sauce over it, causing it to melt within a few seconds.

I enjoyed the bit of theatre and I enjoyed it even more when I got my spoon into it. Filled with ice cream and honeycomb, it was (thankfully) not too substantial but gave a good chocolate hit.

Having indulged in a couple of cocktails - which were both disappointingly on the sweet side for me (but then I do like my liquor hard) – the final bill came to £77.


Cosy Club, Unit R9, The Riverwalk, Durham, DH1 4SL

Telephone: 01912 058025


Open: Sunday-Wednesday 9am - 11pm; Thursday 9am - midnight; Friday-Saturday 9am - 1am

Food served every day 9am - 10pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food 8, Service 8, Surroundings 8, Value 7