People may have preconceptions about what it is like dining in a college and eating food that has been cooked and served by students. I have to say, students are fully supervised and because they are there to learn, are keen and are trained to do things properly I think the experience ends up being a lot nicer than what I have received at many restaurants and would not let the fact that they are students put you off.
We arrived at the South Hylton campus on a cold, wet evening. There was ample parking and we followed the signs from reception to 'The Lounge'. When we opened the door to the restaurant it was not what I was expecting at all - there were high backed leather chairs, contemporary lighting, candle lit tables and beautifully polished glasses and cutlery on our table. I was impressed!
The Lounge is open on a Thursday evening from 7pm. The menu is small but changes seasonally. The price is just £14.95 for three courses. There are even more bargains to be had at lunch - the lunch menu is similar to the evening and is priced at just £4.75 for one course, £7.50 for two or £9.25 for three courses!
Our drinks orders were taken whilst we browsed the menu. I was pleased to be advised that a wide range alcohol and soft drinks were available and our server was very knowledgable and able to recommend without hesitation. We ordered our food and were brought out some freshly baked bread rolls which were still warm and wonderfully soft. I think it really does make a difference when bread has been made in house.
Chicken and roasted red pepper terrine with grape chutney
Mussels in a garlic cream with sundried tomato bread and brie glaze
We were absolutely blown away by both the presentation and taste. I was expecting a dish full of mussel's in their shells - nothing like this! Our salads were perfectly dressed and the portions were just right.
Smoked haddock brandade, soft poached egg, spinach and chives
Stuffed pot roast shoulder of lamb with roast vegetables and boulangere potatoes
Our main courses certainly did not disappoint - the haddock was again, beautifully presented and complete with a perfectly poached egg. My lamb was so flavoursome and you can really tell the difference when gravy has been made properly - it was so meaty and rich. Our vegetables were also stunning and in fact some of the best we have tasted.
Lemon Posset and Shortbread
Baked Apple with Cinnamon Cream
Our desserts finished off what was a delightful meal perfectly. My baked apple tasted of Christmas in a bowl and Steve's Lemon Posset was better than the one I make at home (and I like to think I'm a posset expert!).
Service throughout the evening was attentive and I loved how the staff took great pride in their work. I could not help but notice the special events the lounge had coming up including a six course tasting menu for only £22.50 and a Celebration of Tyne and Wear for £18.95 per head. We are looking into booking onto one of these nights as I think they'd be fantastic.
I can not recommend booking a table at The lounge enough. You can book online or call 0191 511 6270. Not only will you be supporting chef's and waiting staff in their training but you'll also have a fantastic evening with some truly delicious food at a bargain price.
SPECIAL OFFER: Free bottle of wine when booking a table for four or more people. Click here to download your voucher, contact The Lounge for terms and conditions.
It is an exciting time for The Lounge as it prepares to move to the new city centre campus in Spring 2016. I'm sure it will go from strength to strength and continue to be a success.