As promised, our Durham Food and Drink ‘away day’ trip to The Talbot Hotel Melton. We’d taken the train from Durham Railway Station early doors on the Saturday morning, bound for York. This is about 45 minutes these days, and after a brisk walk across York Station to platform 5 we hopped on the Scarborough train. This trundled off through the NW suburbs, seemingly through people’s back gardens and out into the Vale. Hamby came and went, then we latched onto the River Derwent, past the beautiful Kirkham Abbey and Priory and some lovely Railside properties before arriving in Melton mid morning. Out from the carriage, across the river and into the town, the weather was colder and blustery. Mrs. DFD had bravely decided on just a dress and cardia. We disappeared fairly rapidly into a local café for warming coffee.
When we ventured into Melton Marketplace, there was a food market on, and the sun had come out, so we wandered around savoring the smells and sights until lunchtime. The fantastic Talbot Hotel is run by James Martin, the TV chef. You can see the hotel from the railway as you approach Melton, standing high up on the opposite side of the river. It has 26 bedrooms, so not huge by modern standards. The Restaurant and menus are overseen by head chef Jake Jones. We’d booked the lunch time meal on Open Table about a month previously, and had a 12:30 reservation. The lunchtime menu is set at £18 for a two course meal or £24 for three courses. We decided to just go for a two courser. The barman Steve was very attentive and took our drinks order, then came back for the food. Mrs. DFD had selected Poached Cod for starters and Pork Belly for her main. I went for Asparagus and Wild Garlic Soup and Talbot’s Burger (Venison Burger), which wasn’t on the set menu, but the barman said he could sort it for me for the same price. We garnished it with an extra portion of hand cut chips and purple sprouting broccoli, garlic butter and bacon.
A pint of Tail Gunner and a glass of Prosecco later, we were shown through to the restaurant. We were the first ones in for the lunch. It’s like a stately home inside, with the huge, strong equine oils adorning the walls and extensive views from the massive sash windows into the grounds and back across the river. We sat by one of the windows, taking advantage of the strong light that had developed. We sampled the bread and butter whilst we waited for our starters to arrive. Our waitress saw to it we were comfortable, then delivered our first course. Mrs. DFD’s Poached Cod was light and melted in the mouth, with a lovely delicate lemon salt taste. The asparagus and wild garlic soup came with strips of mushroom and the accompanying seared sour dough bread was fantastic. Now I’m not normally into anything too fancy, but the main course was well worth waiting for! The Talbot Burger of Venison came in a big rosy bun, with cocktail skewer, a little piece of seared lettuce, with a jingo fashion of chips and beetroot relish. I added broccoli which was covered in garlic butter and strips of bacon.
Debs’ pork belly was served on a bed of white beans with grilled leeks and parsnip, she also added some jingo chips and shared the broccoli and bacon. The burger was covered in ribblesdale cheese, which has a very strong flavor. The belly pork was the best i’ve ever tasted, with nice crunchy fat and dry meat beneath. I don’t generally eat beetroot as it’s not normally prepared as nicely as this, but it had a nice sweet soft relish taste and not the hard stuff i’d rejected as a kid. We passed on the desserts and just went for a coffee in the atrium. This totally relaxed us for another half hour. Steve the bar manager came in, clutching a large TV under his arm, saying that if he couldn’t go to Raintree, then Raintree would be coming to him. The Grand National was almost upon us. We left him to watch his race, paid the bill (£61) and disappeared back to the food market to buy copious quantities of cheese. The Talbot was everything I expected it to be, with great food and superb staff ensuring we enjoyed our meal. I’d like to stay there sometime and sample the full hotel hospitality as I think it would be awesome. I’d give this a perfect 10.