Spring has sprung, the snow has melted and the world is waking up to an exciting new season… of blogging.
We found ourselves in receipt of a very special invite this month – would we like to review The Northumberland Arms’ new Masterchef Special created by former Masterchef Quarter Finalist (2016) and Executive Head Chef at the Northumberland Arms Matei Baran?
Describing itself as an “elegant British restaurant with rooms by the river Coquet […] offering gourmet food”, you’ll discover the perfect blend of country pub and contemporary eatery at The Northumberland Arms.
Hitting the nail on the head with the quality of their food and decor, the venue appeals to a wide range of customers from across the region.
Its cosy, comfortable dining-cum-bar area doesn’t feel dingy, while the light and airy conservatory and dining area makes it a popular spot for everything from Sunday lunch (my Nanna is a regular, so special mention to Norah who I know will be reading this!) but also lends itself well to date night or dinner with the girls.
Bringing one of my best friends Laura along for the ride on a sunny Wednesday evening, we practically skipped out of town very much looking forward to finding out what the mysterious Masterchef special was all about.
The Main Event:
I should warn you that trying to decide what to order at The Northumberland Arms is no easy task, with star performers such as poached sea trout, smoked haddock scotch egg and venison loin on the menu, alongside classics like the Brown Ale Beer Battered Fish and hand-raised pie of the day with hand cut chips or sautéed greens.
I was almost glad of the choice being taken away as I opted straight for the highly anticipated Masterchef Special.
Available from 6pm – 9pm, the Masterchef Special is a set menu of artisanal design. The creation of former Masterchef Quarter Finalist (2016) and Executive Head Chef at the Northumberland Arms Matei Baran, the Masterchef Special changes weekly, paying special attention to locally sourced ingredients and homegrown herbs.
Think of it as a “blink and you’ll miss it” opportunity to be wowed, my meal started with king scallops, spring onions, chicken dashi and pui lentils served with chicken wafers. First impressions? The dish ticked all of the right boxes looks-wise, but more importantly this dish certainly didn’t fail in the style vs. substance stakes.
The chicken “wafers” were akin to the most delicious, moreish roast chicken crisps you’ve ever eaten – satisfyingly salty and crunchy. Portion-wise, the three king scallops and chicken wafers were enough to whet your appetite without spoiling the main course – another work of art in itself.
While Laura received a giant portion of beer battered fish and chips, I was presented with my second course: hickory smoked pork fillet served alongside a charred rack, glazed liver, charred corn, potato wedges and barbecue jus. Miniature apples stewed to fall apart in your mouth completed the dish and I promptly dug in.
Working my way through the dish though it were an ornamental garden, stopping to admire the colours, scent and flavours, before picking my way through the gloriously crisp Cajun wedges, succulent pork, sweet miniature apple and juicy corn; I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a meal this much.
Completing the trio of dishes on the Masterchef Special was an Amaretto and chocolate delice served with soured cherry sorbet and pickled cherries. The creamy chocolate delice melted in your mouth leaving a buttery almond flavoured biscuit base behind to enjoy afterwards.
As with the two previous courses, the Masterchef Special isn’t just a one-time taste sensation; it’s a firework display of flavour. Just when you think you’ve got the gist of it, a smoky barbecue tang drifts into the mix.
For research purposes I had to have a taste of Laura’s Eton Mess and can confirm it was heavenly: intensely creamy with pieces of meringue and popping candy scattered throughout.
It’s a rare thing, isn’t it, to leave a meal feeling well fed and fulfilled (not just full), so it’s a real pleasure to say that the Masterchef Special did just that for us.
Befitting his place on the TV series, Matei’s Masterchef Special was food theatre at its finest. No gimmicks, no pretence, no dodgy kitchen artefacts passed off as plates to disguise below-par food. The special was full of interesting and long-lasting flavours, culinary creativity and a real pleasure to eat.
Thank you to the Matei and The Northumberland Arms for bringing us out of blogging hibernation and our taste buds back to life.
A Note To Readers:
If you’re a regular reader of Prosecco and Pie you’ll notice there’s been quite the hiatus since our last post, we have been in blogging hibernation for the past few months.
The reason? I’m very fortunate to be kept busy running my business Bumble and Bloom Media, but also personally. Since becoming a carer for a loved one, there’s been little time for fun and foodie adventures while we navigate the murky world of mental health. So when an email popped into our inbox inviting us to review The Northumberland Arms’ new Masterchef Special we decided this one was too good to miss and poked our heads out of blogging hibernation to drive 30 minutes up north to the village of Felton (just past Morpeth) curious to see what was in store.
We kindly received a free meal in return for an honest review on Prosecco and Pie. For readers’ benefit our meal would have cost:
Scallops starts – £8.95
Hickory pork main – £17.95
Delice – £6.95