Brand new look – still great scran

Sunday Sun - - Eating Out -

THE last time we vis­ited the Raby Arms we had thor­oughly en­joyed our meal but had thought the place, while cosy, looked like it needed a spruce up.

Roll on a cou­ple of years or so and we heard that was ex­actly what had hap­pened so de­cided to take an­other look.

We jumped into the Eatsmo­bile and headed to the Hart Vil­lage pub, ar­riv­ing very hun­gry hav­ing taken ad­van­tage of the nearby seafront at Seaton Carew where we had en­joyed a long stroll.

Friendly staff greeted us and showed us to the ta­ble we had for­tu­nately booked as the pub was packed with a mix­ture of cou­ples and fam­i­lies in­clud­ing one large birth­day party.

We were handed a Sun­day menu which had a small but var­ied se­lec­tion of mains and starters.

The choice was a far cry from our last visit when it was a lengthy pub chain menu but with a fairly ba­sic of­fer­ing.

We had read the head chef was trained un­der Rick Stein and the food choices ap­peared to re­flect this.

I chose sauteed gar­lic field mush­rooms on toast with a basil pesto while and Mrs E went for the soup of the day –tomato – served with crusty bread and Netherend Farm salted but­ter. Both looked de­li­cious when they ar­rived and tasted as good as

t h e y Car park..................... Kids al­lowed...................... Real ale..................................... Wine by the bot­tle........................ Credit cards..................................... Veg­e­tar­ian food............................. Dis­abled toi­lets............................. looked. The soup was creamy and served with huge chunks of bread with but­ter. The mush­rooms were out­stand­ing, gar­licky but not drip­ping in but­ter which is so of­ten the case.

Both were large por­tions and too good to leave which meant we both started our mains al­ready on the full side.

I had opted for braised feath­erblade of beef while Mrs E went for roast pork shoul­der. Both were served with sea­sonal veg­eta­bles, goose fat roast pota­toes, York­shire pud­ding, cau­li­flower cheese and rich gravy.

Again two large por­tions ar­rived. Mine had a thick piece of beef which while ten­der was a lit­tle fatty. She who must be fed had no such com­plaints – hers was three large pieces of lean and ten­der pork.

How­ever, for me, it was the veg­eta­bles which were far and away the best I’d had in a long time. Very cheesy cau­li­flower cheese, car­rots, green cab­bage and broc­coli plus a de­li­cious red cab­bage which re­minded me of Christ­mas.

Full we might be but there is (al­most) al­ways room for a dessert and this was no ex­cep­tion.

I couldn’t leave with­out try­ing the sticky tof­fee pud­ding with cus­tard, while Mrs E wanted ‘some­thing light’ and chose the Red Vel­vet Cake.

While her sponge cake was cer­tainly light, the rich choco­late and cream meant it was any­thing but – not that it stopped her eat­ing ev­ery last mouth­ful.

My sponge was also light and moist but the tof­fee sauce had a sug­ary tex­ture as though it had been over cooked. While I still thor­oughly en­joyed its crys­tallised feel, oth­ers might have a dif­fer­ent view.

It might only be two and a half years since our visit but the place and food was very dif­fer­ent.

The pub looked far more up­mar­ket, def­i­nitely no longer worn but taste­fully dec­o­rated. As be­fore it was re­lax­ing but now it has var­i­ous quirky touches such as the re­served signs on the ta­bles made out of Scrab­ble tiles and the ta­ble num­bers on tiny easels.

But for She Who Must Be Obeyed the big­gest change was the ladies toi­lets.

She had frozen on our last visit while in the loo which was des­per­ately in need of a re­vamp.

Now, I’m told, they are bright, new and clean with hand­wash and match­ing hand cream – a big plus in Mrs E’s book!

So we were very pleased with our de­ci­sion to make a re­turn visit – and no doubt it will not be our last.

The Raby Arms at Hart, near Hartle­pool which is un­der new man­age­ment and has had a re­fur­bish­ment.

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