WHEN I heard rumours there was a new foodie spot in town, it immediately went on my list of places to try.

Whitechurch, in Durham, opened last October in the pub formerly known as the New Inn, opposite one of the university’s main sites off Stockton and South Road.

It’s run by the same people as Flat White and Flat White Kitchen, in Saddler Street, which have built up quite a reputation in Durham since the first café opened in 2010.

While Flat White Kitchen, known for its brunches and never-ending queues during university term time, offers more of a day-time offering, Whitechurch has allowed the business to venture into a full dinner service.

By day it’s a café , largely populated by students, and by night, a restaurant and bar.

The New Inn was probably best known as a student haunt, conveniently close to the library, and is said to have closed last year because of the difficulties in turning a profit year-round.

Since then, it has undergone a substantial refurbishment. Gone is the dimly lit bar, the sticky floor and lingering smell of disappointing burgers, replaced by very on-trend décor.

Much brighter, whiter and with house plants aplenty, it has a casual but modern vibe.

The menu is pleasingly select, with just a handful of almost equally-delicious sounding dishes.

Despite the limited choice, the style is relatively diverse with options ranging from the Northern staple of mince and dumplings (tarted up by using veal and serving with cavalo nero), to more exotic offerings including macadamia hummus, and falafel scotch eggs.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The macadamia hummus was one of the stand out dishes of the evening

My potted shrimp starter was good, but much less memorable than Carlo’s macadamia hummus, served with rosemary, raisins and flat bread, which was truly delicious.

In fact, much as I love potted shrimp (which was smothered in butter and served with thin slices of toasted baguette) I did have some pangs of food envy after he spared me a corner of his flat bread to dip in the hummus.

While the once exotic dip may have become a staple up and down the country, I’ve never had a macadamia nut one before.

Deliciously smooth and richly nutty, it had me googling to see if I could recreate it in my own kitchen. The raisins added more to the dish than you might imagine and the flat bread was toasty and fragrant with spice.

For me, it was the stand out dish of the night, and I would go back just to have it again (all to myself).

Darlington and Stockton Times:

A warming bowl of yellow fish curry, which was served with brown rice

Next up was two generous plates of yellow fish curry and mince and dumplings (£14).

The curry was a surprisingly elegant dish. Made up of chunks of white fish and some generously sized mussels, it was served with tenderstem broccoli and brown rice. The sauce was on the delicate side, but still packed a punch in terms of flavour.

Meanwhile the mince and dumplings were also delightful. The best home dinners can be ruined by chefs with ideas above their stations but thankfully the cook in charge of this meal hadn’t messed around too much with the classic.

The gravy was thick and rich, the dumplings were light and fresh with herbs, while retaining enough stodge to properly soak up the sauce.

In the dessert section I would say my choice of dark chocolate and morello cherry tart (£7) was the winner. It really was decadently rich. Having declared before it arrived that “I wasn’t even that full”, it almost defeated me, even as a seasoned pudding lover.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The rich and decadent dark chocolate and morello cherry tart

The darkness of the chocolate was offset by the fruity cherry and an amaretto cream, which I, if good manners allowed it, would probably have licked off the plate.

Carlo’s waffle tiramisu (£6.50) sounded more exciting than I felt it was in reality.

Two hefty slabs of waffle encase a coffee cream, topped with more cream (including what looked like a rich chocolate icecream, but turned out to be just chocolate cream), it looked impressive.

But I have to say, even for me – a seasoned pudding eater, it was just a little bit much for the end of a meal.

We finished up the meal with a coffee and espresso martini and the total bill came to just over £70.


Whitechurch, 29 Church Street Head, Durham, DH1 3DN

Tel: 0191 386 8897

Open: Tuesday – Saturday 8.30am-10pm, Sunday 10am-9.30pm, closed Mondays

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