Graduation for many signifies a time of transition. We are going from our youth into adulthood. It means leaving the security blanket that is your parents and going off into the world to make something of yourself. Graduation is one of the most important events in our lives, a great step that we are taking forward. But graduation is not just scary, it’s exciting as well. It’s a time for celebration: celebrating the last three years of your life, the things you have learned, the friendships you have made. And the best possible way to celebrate is most definitely with good company and good food.
These are restaurants that aren’t in the close Durham area and do require a drive to get to. If you have the transportation to get there, these restaurants will not disappoint with their intricate menus and elegant setting.
The Morritt Hotel
The Morritt Hotel is a good choice for a fine dining experience outside of Durham. The hotel is situated in the picturesque Teesdale countryside, and has an award winning restaurant and bar. For two courses for £28.00 or three courses for £35.00, and dishes like Butternut Squash Veloute and Trinea Chocolate Ganache, it is definitely worth the drive.
Black Knight Restaurant
Being situated at the stately Lumley Castle, the Black Knight is a good choice for those who want to make their graduation dinner have that extra oomph! Lumley Castle is a grand 14th century castle that has been converted into a boutique hotel. With an a la carte menu serving dishes such as Pan fried scallops, Smoked haddock aranchini, Beetroot summer pudding and oven roasted sea trout, the food is sure to be a hit. If dinner is not what you had in mind for your graduation meal, Black Knight also has a lunch menu for two for £35 with dishes such as Parmesan Gnocchi and Confit Duck.
The Raby Hunt
The Raby Hunt is one of only 20 restaurants in the UK to hold two Michelin stars. Situated in Summerhouse in Darlington, The Raby Hunt has been an inn since it was built in the early 1800s. Chef James Close runs this thirty seat restaurant, with dishes inspired by his travels through Europe. With a ten course tasting menu, Saturday lunch at £85 per person and a twelve course tasting menu Wednesday and Thursday evening at £95 pp, it is definitely an upmarket choice.
The Orangery is the centrepiece of the formidable sprawl of hotel, golf course and spa that make up Rockcliffe Hall. As mentioned on their website, “Informal luxury is what The Orangery is all about.” The Orangery combines fine dining with a more relaxed atmosphere and a semi-casual dress code. The food, thanks to chef Richard Allen and his team, stands out, with exquisite dishes such as Sea bream and chorizo risotto and Duck liver parfait. There are a variety of menus to choose from including ones that cater to specific dietary requirements such as pescetarian and vegetarian. Most intriguing are their tasting and surprise menus which are nine courses and seven courses respectively. Not only is there variety in terms of food choice, there is also a variation in price points with the vegetarian set menu (four courses) staring at £60 and the surprise menu (nine courses) reaching £90.
Within the City
If you aren’t overly keen on having to drive to your dinner, here are some of the finest restaurants within Durham that will tantalise your taste buds. The best possible way to celebrate is most definitely with good company and good food.
The Cellar Door
A 13th Century cellar conversion, the Cellar Door within Durham is well known for its refined atmosphere. With a special graduation menu, Cellar Door is the perfect choice for those who want a low key, but elegant graduation lunch or dinner. With two courses for £32.95 or three for £36.95, there are a variety of dishes to choose from including Wood pigeon and Goat’s cheese wellington.
Flat White Kitchen
Everyone’s favourite cafe is also preparing a graduation menu. Beloved for its brunch and becoming increasingly popular for its evening meals, Flat White Kitchen is running a special graduation meal for students. The four course meal is by booking only and costs £40. There are plenty of choices with options for a pescetarian, meat and vegetarian main course. The dishes include Chicken Terrine, Red Wine Risotto , and Belly of Lamb. If you are looking for somewhere with a more relaxed atmosphere, but great quality food, Flat White Kitchen is definitely for you. But do hurry because it is sure to be a popular choice for many students!
Up on The Avenue, DH1 is a popular Durham restaurant serving seasonal dishes, using local ingredients. There are many tasting menus to choose from starting at £45. Within, you can find interesting dishes like Beetroot tartate and Goosnargh duck, and Lindisfarne oyster. DH1 is the perfect place for someone looking for sophisticated cooking within Durham City. Chef Stephen Hardy engages in ‘modern’ British cooking and has a complex menu – perfect for any food lover!
A La Carte
If set menus are up your alley, don’t worry, there are plenty of a la carte options within Durham. Here are a couple that we recommend.
Durham’s latest culinary addition is one you should definitely keep in mind if you are looking for a good family style sharing meal. The owners of the restaurant are from Spain so you know that you will be getting authentic Spanish cuisine. There are many wonderful dishes to choose from such as Paella, Patatas bravas, and Chorizo Frito. What’s great about this restaurant is that you have a vast number of options to choose from and they cater to many different diets. Definitely try Tapas Factory if you want to have a fun, casual graduation dinner!
You can’t ever go wrong with Italian so if you are looking for a nice relaxed dinner, Zizzi’s is another perfect pick. There’s a great number of dishes to choose from. There’s pizza and pasta, but there are other great dishes such as Seabass Verde and Spiedini Pollo. However, if you do want a set menu option, Zizzi’s offers a three course meal for £19.95.
Illustration: Charlotte Way