Ensconced as we are each summer in deepest rural County Durham -- a beautiful spot but not too many chowish places within a hours drive -- it's always great to find a spot that if not close, is at least a reasonable drive away.
This year it's the Feathers Inn in the tiny village of Hedley on the Hill, which was named the Northumbria dining pub of the year by the Good Pub Guide and also is a finalist for the North East Regional section of "Food Heros". This truly is a country pub -- not a fine dining restaurant -- that is carefully sourcing all local ingredients and the best of the North East, in both food and beers. Great wine list and excellent selection of non-alcoholic drinks too, including the Fentimen's line.
We were there for Sunday lunch, which has the lowest number of choices on the menus which change twice daily (except no food on Mondays). The Sunday selection this week included a 28 day aged roast rib of beef, with the usual fixings (which were excellent including incredibly flavorful carrots). The beef was probably the best roast I've eaten in many, many years -- very tender and with lots of flavor. Other selections were a huge portion of beer battered North Sea haddock, a roast lamb with spinach and summer beans, and a Doddington's cheese and potato pie. A similar number of starters and puddings were also on the menu. Definitely too full to order the sweets, but they sounded good -- mostly fruit-based tarts and puddings that day plus Wheelbirk's ice creams.
Other days see a wider menu and variety of offerings, often including wild salmon or trout from the Tyne River, and sometimes interesting pies (local rabbit, cider and mushroom or pigeon and highland cattle). Always at least one veg main and sometimes more.
Several times a year, they invite all their purveyors in for a farmers' market on the grounds.
A lovely place, which I wish weren't quite so far a drive from us.