It was a Thursday afternoon and I was on my holidays so I wanted to treat myself. Of course, my stomach was rumbling too. So where could I go that was going to wow me from the off? As I scrolled through checking my options, I came across a setting I’d lost touch with, Seaham Hall. Needless to say, as soon as I read the following from their website, my mind was made up,
‘Seaham Hall is one of the most luxurious spa hotels in County Durham. Situated amidst 37 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens in a striking cliff top location, this immaculately restored Georgian country house fuses contemporary luxury with classical elegance to create a truly unforgettable five star experience.’
Without delay, we set off for Ozone, one of Seaham Hall’s restaurants. On arrival, we were amazed by our surroundings. If you’re ever fortunate enough to visit Seaham Hall, my advice is to stop, take in the stunning architecture, sense the calming ambience and grab yourself a photo by the wonderful, whirling water structure. As excitement was brewing steadily by the second, we weren’t prepared for what Seaham Hall had in store for us. Their major wow factor is when you come to the bottom of a spiralling staircase to two brown doors that open to a radiant, purple lit hallway. Abracadabra – I couldn’t help but be taken aback by its magical beauty.
At Ozone, which for 2pm on a weekday afternoon was near on fully-occupied, we were taken to our table adjacent to the window by Stuart, our pleasant waiter for the day. Fit for royalty, each table was sleekly finished and the elegant cushioned seating was comfortable. With many drinks on offer from cocktails to wines, we went for two cocktails; The Seaham Godfather and a Long Island Iced Tea. In the fanciest of huge curved glasses, both cocktails were brilliant and lasted us the duration of our experience.
On with the food! The Ozone’s menu consists of starters, sharing platters, salads, curries, wok dishes as well as noodle dishes. Those of us with allergies will feel at ease with the menu as each element is lucidly specified as to what is suitable or not. As we were on holiday and treating ourselves, we ordered starters, deciding on Chicken Satay; Marinated Chicken Skewers in Thai Spices with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Pan Fried Spicy Thai Fishcakes; a mixture of Fish Fillets bound together with Thai Flavourings and Fresh Herbs served with Cucumber Relish. Both were gluten and dairy free. After around fifteen minutes, Stuart brought us our food on two snazzy rectangular plates that had a red tapered finish which looked amazing. Sloped at an angle and looking as pretty as can be, the trio of succulent, glazed chicken skewers hovered over the colourful salad which sat beside the boulder of fiery, nutty sauce. It was out of this world. The fishcakes were in the same formation but instead they were accompanied by a bowl of wet Thai flavours which complemented the dish fittingly. An enjoyable start.
Excitement was fully embedded in my body by now and my digestive system was in full swing. Next up, for our mains, we both chose curries – Gaeng Phet Thai Red Curry, Belly Pork, Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Green Peas topped with Fresh Chilli and Gaeng Khiao Wan Thai Green Curry, Chicken, Courgette, Green Beans and Bamboo Shoots topped with Fresh Chilli (both were served with Steamed Jasmine Rice too). Our dishes again were gluten free and dairy free. My red curry was outstanding: hot, spicy, bursting with flavour. My tender belly pork was mouth-wateringly delicious; it was probably the best belly pork I’ve had to date. The vibrant colours and smooth textures from the butternut squash and sweet potato further enhanced what was a thoroughly satisfying and memorable plate of food. My colleague was in awe of his green curry although it was a little fiercer than expected as it packed a pungent punch. The chunks of chicken were huge and in both cases the jasmine rice was tremendously sticky. Our curries were marvellous!
Even though we were stuffed (our curries were some size), our brains won the battle over our stomachs to order dessert… Could Seaham Hall make it a clean sweep? Our choices from a selection of six were Coconut and Coffee Panna Cotta with shaved coconut flakes (gluten free) and Sticky Toffee Pudding served with Vanilla Ice Cream. The Panna Cotta was presented perfectly in a lovely circular glass. Refreshing and vivid, the sweet silky texture was balanced by the coconut crisp and raspberries depth. Owning its plate, the sticky toffee pudding was the winner of the desserts. Stuffed full of fruit and so sweet on the palate, its delightful decadence reminded my colleague of Christmas. Our desserts were an ideal end to top off a wonderful afternoon.
Overall, the beautiful Seaham Hall is a luxurious setting that smacks of 5 star panache. As for their cuisine at Ozone, there are so many positive superlatives I could describe it with. Seaham Hall will blow your mind and have you craving a return the moment you leave. I for one will be back sooner rather than later…