Each week our reviewers score each restaurant based on quality of food, service, surroundings and value. Click here to find out which restaurants are currently in our top ten based on those results.

The Fox Hole, Piercebridge, County Durham

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Fox Hole, Piercebridge.      Picture: ANDY LAMB (11489502)

10:05am Friday 24th October 2014

AS transformations go, the recent conversion of what used to be a very average boozer in the village of Piercebridge, just west of Darlington, into The Fox Hole takes some beating.

The Bay Horse, Hurworth-on-Tees

Darlington and Stockton Times: (11003506)

10:06am Friday 17th October 2014

IT is six years since the business partnership of Jonathan Hall and Marcus Bennett re-opened the Bay Horse in Hurworth, near Darlington, and set a new standard for top notch pub fare.

The Town House, Durham

Darlington and Stockton Times: EATING OUT: The Town House on Old Elvet in Durham. Picture: DAVID WOOD (10415253)

10:05am Friday 10th October 2014

“ERRRM, medium... please,” I said, timidly. That was as brave as I was prepared to be.

Freemasons Arms, Nosterfield

Darlington and Stockton Times: COUNTRY PUB: The Freemason's Arms in Nosterfield. Picture: STUART BOULTON. (10565782)

10:04am Friday 3rd October 2014

CELEBRATING celebrity customers is nothing new, of course.

Whitworth Hall Hotel, Spennymoor

Darlington and Stockton Times:

2:33pm Friday 26th September 2014

IT’S been a difficult year for Whitworth Hall Hotel, the minor stately pile near Spennymoor. In administration last October, it traded in limbo for three months before a buyer was found.

The Ship, Redmarshall

Darlington and Stockton Times: MARITIME THEME: The Ship, Redmarshall.    Picture: ANDY LAMB

4:51pm Friday 19th September 2014

The old pub which, it says here, earned its name because it was built from ships abandoned in the Tees 260 years ago, has recently undergone a refurbishment complete with ship’s rope, model ships on the wall, ship’s timber poles, ship’s lanterns, pictures of sailing ships...you get the idea.

The magic of Simonstone Hall

Darlington and Stockton Times:

2:30pm Tuesday 16th September 2014

Simonstone Hall is a unique 15th century magnificent Country House with 18 period bedrooms. Set in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Simonstone Hall stands in its own splendid grounds, inclusive of spectacular views over the dale and surrounding fells.

Il Palazzo, Barnard Castle

Darlington and Stockton Times: (9999829)

2:35pm Friday 12th September 2014

THERE’S been much speculation over the past year about the opening of a new Italian restaurant proposed for the former Beaconsfield Hotel in Barnard Castle.

Casa Rustica, Northallerton

Darlington and Stockton Times:

3:31pm Friday 29th August 2014

WE KEEP returning to something of a eating out conundrum. Why can’t Northallerton, on the surface a relatively affluent town, support some decent restaurants?

The Marine, 13 Marine Parade, Whitby YO21 3PR

Darlington and Stockton Times:

12:20pm Friday 22nd August 2014

AS a fairly regular visitor to Whitby, I’m not sure how I missed this but it’s a fact nevertheless – the place has gone a bit posh.

Lucky House Chinese Restaurant & Takeaway, 27 The Bank, Barnard Castle

Darlington and Stockton Times:

2:18pm Friday 15th August 2014

The Lucky House restaurant and takeaway has been trading in Barnard Castle for so long that it’s easy to overlook the familiar when trying to decide on a place to eat.

The Cafe on the Green, Durham

Darlington and Stockton Times:

4:32pm Friday 8th August 2014

ONCE again, we ending up eating at a destination we hadn’t intended but serendipity has served us well of late and it proved to be the case once again on a trip to Durham.

Cena, High Street, Yarm

Darlington and Stockton Times:

3:04pm Friday 1st August 2014

EVERY once in a while, I visit somewhere for this column that makes me feel a pang of guilt.

The Purple Pig, Yarm

Darlington and Stockton Times:

2:44pm Friday 18th July 2014

WE’RE well-versed in the noble art of finding our way to a cheap-(ish) family meal out in smart-(ish) surroundings and The Purple Pig seemed a perfect place.

Grantham Arms, Milby, Boroughbridge, York

Darlington and Stockton Times:

3:56pm Friday 11th July 2014

ARRIVING in Boroughbridge on a warm, drowsy summer Sunday lunchtime, it’s hard to imagine the days when this town was a dusty, choked staging post on the old A1, reduced to little more than a refreshment stop for folk travelling north or south.

Lord Stones Restaurant and Grill

Darlington and Stockton Times:

1:39pm Friday 4th July 2014

THE great British barbecue summer. Don’t bank on it.

Seasons, The Station, Richmond

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Seasons Restaurant at The Station, Richmond. See DST Eating out.  Picture: RICHARD DOUGHTY (7289063)

2:17pm Friday 27th June 2014

A lovely summer’s day saw us board Hodgson’s bus from Barnard Castle to Richmond for a meander and hopefully a spot of lunch.

Cafe Lilli, 83 High Street, Norton

Darlington and Stockton Times: Cafe Lilly, in Norton

3:58pm Friday 20th June 2014

WORK-LIFE balance. Keeping your working life fresh.

The Smiths Arms, Carlton Village, near Stockton

Darlington and Stockton Times: CONVIVIAL: Dining at the Smiths Arms is a pleasant experience – and excellent value

11:23am Friday 13th June 2014

REALISING I’ve never written a no-messing-about, noholds- barred, you-can’t-bendit, really scathing review the thought struck: ‘I’m too soft.’ Maybe, just too filled with the bonhomie of enjoying a meal with a couple of drinks, I’d soft-pedalled on some legitimate criticism, even if I had not failed altogether in my duty to report it.

Taste of Arabia, 50-52, Borough Road, Middlesbrough

Darlington and Stockton Times: BORO EXOTICA: A Taste of Arabia in Middlesbrough’s Borough Road – one of the few Lebanese restaurants in the North-EaST

12:59pm Friday 6th June 2014

FROM the sublime to the ridiculous, to the slightly surreal. The omens had not been good for this night out. The first two options were shut on a Sunday and closed for refurbishment, respectively.

The Black Bull, Moulton, Richmond

Darlington and Stockton Times: NEW LOOK: The Black Bull has been comprehensively refurbished. The main dining room

4:41pm Friday 30th May 2014

IT is probably the most eagerly anticipated restaurant open since the ultimately ill-founded rumour that Jamie Oliver was to open one of his FIFTEEN restaurants in Middlesbrough.

The Fox Hall Inn, East Layton, Richmond

Darlington and Stockton Times: NEW ERA: under new ownership, the Fox Hall Inn on the A66 has been refurbished inside and out

3:27pm Friday 23rd May 2014

HAVING heard nothing but good things about the Fox Hall Inn since its purchase by the Barker family, we were delighted to be asked to review it, the editor having previously called on spec only to find no room at the inn.

The Dog & Gun, Cooper Lane, Potto, near Yarm

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Dog and Gun in Potto had a pleasant atmosphere

2:47pm Friday 16th May 2014

THERE was once a hostelry in this small, oddly-named village, known to all as The Pub That Never Opened.

The Green Dragon, Exelby, Bedale

Darlington and Stockton Times: MUTED ROAR: The Green Dragon at Exelby failed to excite our reviewer, either with its decor or the menu

3:20pm Friday 9th May 2014

NOT many kitchens glory in an engraved potato peeler. Ours does. It sits, unused and pristine in pride of place on the plate rack, adorned with a date in 2007, our names and those of two dear friends. Oh, and one other word: “Result!”

The White Swan, 51 High Street, Gilling West, near Richmond

Darlington and Stockton Times: CONTEMPORARY: The bar and dining areas of the new White Swan, a slightly different reworking of the traditional village inn

3:59pm Friday 2nd May 2014

IT was one of those evenings when the bestlaid plans took us somewhere we really didn’t expect to be.

Kill the chill and I’ll be back for more

Darlington and Stockton Times: RENDEZVOUS: Smart dining, at the King’s Arms, which is clean, tidy and traditional

3:20pm Friday 25th April 2014

PPERMITTED to stray outside my North Yorkshire borders for this one, we found ourselves in a village I’d not been to before.

Amritsar, Houndgate, Darlington

Darlington and Stockton Times: SMART: What was the Golden Brown coffee shop and bistro has been transformed over two floors and the result is classy and colourful dining

3:36pm Wednesday 23rd April 2014

ANOTHER week, another Indian restaurant opens in Darlington. Such are the comings and goings of this particular ethnic cuisine, a new opening hardly counts for anything these days. So what if yet another Bangladeshi curry house is making a pitch for the five-pints-of-Cobra-and-avindaloo market?

The County, The Green, Aycliffe Village

Darlington and Stockton Times: AWARD WINNING: The County on the Green at Aycliffe village

2:21pm Friday 11th April 2014

ONE has to feel sorry for the couple who run The County in Aycliffe Village. For Stuart Dale and Colette Farrell run a famous pub.

Brasserie Hudson Way, Middlesbrough

Darlington and Stockton Times: STYLE: The restaurant says its design recalls the grand cafes of Europe

3:25pm Friday 4th April 2014

IF I was mayor of Middlesbrough and trying to woo some big-time investors into parting with millions, this is where I would bring them – and let the view at sunset do the talking.

The Park, Sutton on the Forest, York

Darlington and Stockton Times: MENU: The Park Restaurant, venue for a taste of many foods and flavours

12:22pm Friday 28th March 2014

IF YOU like plenty of choice, then you might panic at the thought of being faced with a single option on the menu.

Penleys Cafe and Bistro, Leyburn

Darlington and Stockton Times: CAFE STYLE: Penleys Cafe and Bistro in Leyburn

4:12pm Friday 21st March 2014

TO Leyburn on a beautiful spring Saturday morning. I had business at the auction mart, Sylvia had a coffee rendezvous with a friend – and shopping.

Bistro 21, Aykley Heads, Durham

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bistro 21, Aykley Heads, Durham

3:52pm Friday 14th March 2014

IT says much of what the uninitiated would need to know about Bistro 21 that when we told friends of our plans for a cold, wet Wednesday in mid-February, a quiet, unspoken envy would cloud their eyes.

Haynes Arms, Kirby Sigston, Northallerton

Darlington and Stockton Times: CHANGES: The Haynes Arms at Kirby Sigston has been given a restrained makeover by a new owner

11:18am Friday 7th March 2014

IT’S hard to think of a road – particularly one as prosaic as the A19 – as a conduit for anything special. It is just a functional connector, the A1’s poor relation, between Doncaster and Seaton Burn in Northumberland and who wants to go to either of those places?

The Corner House Hotel, Leeming Bar

Darlington and Stockton Times: HARD TO MISS: The Corner House Hotel in Leeming Bar offers unpretentious and straightforward pub food in rather attractive and cosy surroundings

3:01pm Friday 28th February 2014

ONE of our party on this night out has a very serious head for figures. With a high-flying accountant among us, I know we’ll have no problem sorting out the bill at the end of the meal.

Knitsley Farm Shop and Granary Cafe, East Knitsley Farm Shop, Consett

Darlington and Stockton Times: IMPRESSIVE: Award-winning Knitsley Farm Shop and Granary Cafe turns perceptions about the rustic nature of farmshops on its head

3:44pm Friday 21st February 2014

A READER recently took us to task for reviewing breakfasts on the grounds that it wasn’t most people’s idea of a meal out.

Fox and Hounds, Teesway, Neasham, Darlington

Darlington and Stockton Times: VALUE: The Fox and Hounds, Neasham

3:33pm Friday 14th February 2014

THE search for a pub meal within easy striking distance of home brought us to the Fox and Hounds at Neasham, just south-east of Darlington.

Bettys Northallerton, High Street, Northallerton

Darlington and Stockton Times: A TREAT: Bettys on Northallerton High Street

2:03pm Friday 7th February 2014

WE’RE in the middle of a cost-ofliving crisis, the politicians (well some) are telling us. Wages still lag behind inflation so we’ve less to spend.

The Crathorne Arms, Crathorne, North Yorkshire

Darlington and Stockton Times: NO FANFARE: The Crathorne Arms, Crathorne, which has been re-opened

3:30pm Friday 31st January 2014

WITH no fanfare whatsoever, not a single press release, not even a sign outside the pub door, one of our few genuine culinary superstars has opened a new pub-restaurant.

The Stables Restaurant, Best Westem Beamish Hall, Beamish

Darlington and Stockton Times: STABLE CONDITION: Sunday lunch at the Beamish Hall Hotel is served at the The Stables, which has been refurbished with wooden fittings

1:58pm Friday 24th January 2014

I DO love a top notch Sunday lunch in posh surroundings – the posher the better really. An expensive hotel, a small stately home, a yacht on the Med, that’s the sort of thing I’m talking about.

The Cleveland Tontine, Staddlebridge, Northallerton

Darlington and Stockton Times: VENUE: The Cleveland Tontine, open again after a recent refurbishment

4:00pm Friday 10th January 2014

Limited access for disabled at the moment. ONE day long ago I got on my bike, rode down the A19 the seven or so miles to the Cleveland Tontine (don’t try this from home, kids) and asked for a job.

The Tuns, Sadberge, Darlington

Darlington and Stockton Times: TOP MARKS: The Tuns at Sadberge offers cracking value with its dining

4:03pm Friday 3rd January 2014

THE new year starts rather where we left off in 2013 – lauding the rebirth of the village pub.

Proof is in pudding for village pubs

Darlington and Stockton Times: REPUTATIONS: The Horseshoe Inn, West Rounton

12:30pm Monday 6th January 2014

THIS really has been the year of the country pub. Time after time in 2013 we came across rejuvenated village inns, many reopened after periods shut.

Bells, Market Place, Durham

Darlington and Stockton Times: SEAT: The dining room at Bells offers great views over Durham’s Market Place

11:17am Friday 20th December 2013

I HAVE a theory. Admittedly, it’s not much of a theory, and not the sort of theory that would stand up to much scrutiny.

Los Toreros Muertos, The Bank, Barnard Castle

Darlington and Stockton Times: PARTY TIME: Los Toreros Muertos in Barnard Castle put the birthday girls in the mood

12:57pm Friday 13th December 2013

THERE we were, a trio of friends determined to celebrate our December birthdays, bemoaning the fact every eatery was sure to be decked with festive decorations.

Houndgate Town House Hotel, Darlington

Darlington and Stockton Times: STYLE: The Houndgate Townhouse with its restaurant and bar Eleven on the ground floor

2:59pm Friday 6th December 2013

GOSH, this finedining malarkey is really catching on in Darlington.

Artisan bakery rises to the occasion

Darlington and Stockton Times: USING THEIR LOAF: Olivia’s Artisan Bakery, in Thirsk, has clean and simple decor

2:23pm Friday 29th November 2013

IT’S confession time again. Following my admission two weeks ago of the great Frenchgate Hotel flooring gaff, I feel the need to don the hair shirt again and tell you of a further editor’s misdemeanour.

Quayside deserves some limelight

Darlington and Stockton Times: HISTORIC: The Quayside has a string of national awards for its fare

3:35pm Friday 22nd November 2013

REWIND three weeks.

The food here still cannot be flawed

Darlington and Stockton Times: CLASSIC: The elegant dining room at the Frenchgate Hotel

12:01pm Friday 15th November 2013

WE start with an apology. Eight years ago, when we last visited Richmond’s Frenchgate Hotel, we made not one, but two, references to laminate flooring.

Identikit pub but the food’s just fine

Darlington and Stockton Times: VIEWS: Outside and in The Manor House - a working pub and not a fancy restaurant

1:10pm Friday 8th November 2013

WE meandered into this modern, brightly lit chain-pub, spied laughing post-work drinkers, noted the relaxed-if-slightly loud atmosphere and thought we knew what we were in for: standard, warmed-up pub grub.

Gourmet menu that hits the Spot

Darlington and Stockton Times: TREAT: The Gourmet Spot is a bit of a hidden gem on Durham’s The Avenue.

11:59am Friday 1st November 2013

WHEN Stephen Hardy, head chef at The Gourmet Spot – widely recognised as one of the region’s finest eating destinations – learned I had visited for the purposes of these pages, he admitted to “a little bit of nervousness”.


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