BARNARD Castle is one of my favourite market towns in County Durham and always offers something for the whole family.

My husband, Ali, like to wander around the gift shops or the castle, or take a trip to the Bowes Museum on a rainy day, and now the town has a community arts centre that attracts everyone from crafters to famous comedians, it is starting to get its name on the map for evening entertainment, too.

There is no shortage of pubs in the town and in a place that Richard III loved so much that he gave it his coat of arms, there’s plenty of history to get engrossed in for hours.

One of my favourites is The Three Horseshoes Hotel, an old coaching house in Galgate.

The traditional style of the building matched with a smart front and signage is always inviting and once you step inside you are immediately hit with the cosy atmosphere. Quite literally hit, as Ali has to duck a little to get through the front door – I imagine people were a little shorter back then.

The hotel was given a £750,000 transformation by the Green family before they took it over in 2013 and has been proving popular with both locals and visitors ever since.

Dark furniture and a large bar keep the traditional feel of the pub while the restaurant at the back has a more modern feel with large windows letting light flow in.

Ali and I thought a little date night was in order and booked a table on a Tuesday night. It was simple to book and we were greeted by friendly staff and shown to our table.

The menu is both traditional and extensive which played havoc with my indecisiveness, but I was pleased there were several dishes I knew I would enjoy.

For starters, I chose the salmon and cod fish cakes with creamy potatoes and sweet chill dip (£5.95) while Ali went for the spicy barbecue chicken wings (£5.50).

Both were presented beautifully and were full of flavour and I was surprised at how big the portions were.

The crumb on my fishcakes complimented the delicate filling while the sweet chilli sauce gave it a kick not often associated with fish cakes.

I just about managed to get a bite of Ali’s chicken wings too as he dived straight into them and as a chicken lover, gave them the thumbs up.

As I’d ordered the fillet steak (£22.50) for my main, I was starting to worry whether the good old dessert space would be left intact, but it didn’t stop my mouth watering when it was brought out alongside Ali’s pan seared duck (£13.50).

The fillet was hidden under three large and crispy onion rings, grilled tomato and mushroom and accompanied with separate chips and peppercorn sauce. It was literally a feast for for King Richard.

The fillet itself was perfectly tender and cooked to my medium rare preference.

The creaminess of the sauce complimented it beautifully and I drizzled it over the chips too which were fluffy and plentiful.

Ali had to finish my chips – by this point I was seriously worried about the dessert space – but I have to say it was definitely one of the best steaks I’ve had in Teesdale and I love the fact the hotel uses meat and other ingredients from local traders.

Ali was also giving off happy sounds from across the table with his duck which was presented as a fan of meat drizzled with black cherry and Kirsch reduction.

It lay on a bed of wilted greens while it was accompanied by a side portion of creamy gratin dauphinoise potatoes.

The duck itself was beautifully tender and I found it refreshing to have something other than an orange sauce – it seems to be a favourite on all menus with duck.

Ali loved the dauphinoise potatoes – about the one dish he has never mastered himself – although I found them a tad too herby for my liking, although until now I have always had to contend with Ali’s version of the dish which features potatoes that are still raw no matter how long they’ve been in the oven.

We were full by the end of our mains but when asked if we would like to look at the dessert menu, I could not resist.

I had already spied the salted caramel and popcorn pots (£5.50) while Ali chose the chocolate brownie with white chocolate chips, thick Chantilly cream and raspberry sauce (£5.50).

I was intrigued by the presentation of my pots as the pot of gooey caramel with set milk chocolate custard and a toffee drizzle was decked with shards of popcorn-topped caramel.

I eat with my eyes so this was hitting all the right notes for me especially as it was accompanied by a shortbread biscuit.

The pot itself was rich and creamy and I had to use the biscuit to break up the sweet hits of the chocolate. I must admit by the time I got to the bottom, the caramel was defeating me slightly and was a bit strong for such a lavish dish.

Ali’s brownie came warm and beautifully presented again. We originally thought there was a scoop of ice cream on the top but it turned out the cream had just been shaped to look like it. It hit a punch with the accompanying raspberry sauce and was polished off in no time.

All-in-all we had a very relaxing evening and would highly recommend this venue for both lunch, dinner and afternoon tea – just make sure your stomach is ready for it.


The Three Horseshoes Hotel, 7 Galgate, Barnard Castle, DL12 8EQ

Tel: 01833 631777


Open: Monday – Friday 10am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, Saturday 10am to 9pm, Sunday noon -4pm

Disabled access. Plenty of dietary options and allergy advice.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, service 9, surroundings 8, value 8