This piece is brought to you in association with Taste Durham.
County Durham’s coastline is one of the many jewels which stud this beautiful part of the North East, and the sublime natural beauty of the area is reflected in the emphasis which Seaham Hall places on refinement and quality. The hotel’s Byron's Restaurant is one of the many illustrations of the way it gears itself toward making the very best out of the natural resources afforded to it by both the local area and the North East at large.
‘My views on food are very simple: I buy the very best I can,’ says Byron’s Head Chef, Damian Broom. ‘By this I mean I would rather buy the very best, freshest sardine possible instead of buying a mediocre turbot. The best ingredients are rarely the most expensive, but they take a lot of time, care and understanding to find.’ That means that 90 percent of all the produce Byron’s uses comes from within 20 miles of the hotel.
This commitment to quality also means that Damian and his chefs need to be particularly sensitive not to crowd out the natural flavours and textures of the produce they find. ‘Everything we make has the same ethos,’ Damian explains. ‘Can we get any more flavour out of it?’
This commitment to pushing every aspect of the dining experience isn’t born of some need to be part of the prevailing mood of the moment – it’s fundamental to Seaham Hall’s ethos. ‘The food we buy is seasonal for the right reasons – not because it’s a trendy word at the moment but because we work closely with the suppliers who share our beliefs that seasonal is the best way forward in terms of flavour and sustainability,’ says Damian. That means using fish comes from day boats in Hartlepool, and meat born and reared in Yorkshire, and Damian has even learned how to safely tap trees for sap to turn into deliciously chewy Danish-inspired sweets.
While he loves working with seafood, Damian is enthused by all the produce which passes through his kitchen. ‘I can get excited over a bunch of carrots if they are stunning,’ he says, ‘or if a bunch of radishes have perfect leaves.’
That said, the best produce in the world will only take you so far if you don’t know what you’re doing with it – fortunately, Damian and his team have skill in abundance. ‘Any dish always needs to revolve around the best ingredients – thinking intelligently about what works together, then looking at what techniques to use to really make the produce sing. Innovation isn’t always about being different; it’s about using technique and produce to showcase the product.’
That approach, of adhering to the highest standards of quality in every aspect, above chasing fashions and trends, informs Seaham Hall at large too. From the bright, contemporary garden suite rooms with their private lawns, and the coastal views from the penthouse suites, to the exclusive toiletries in your bathroom and the hotel’s complimentary mountain bikes, Seaham Hall does both grand gestures and tiny details perfectly.
Those mountain bikes should come in handy when you get out and explore the Durham Heritage Coast – indeed, a walk along the 11-mile coastal footpath between Seaham and Crimdon shows off the wildflowers, insects, birds and magnesian limestone grasslands which make this part of the country unique. After an yomp along the coast, you’ll have earned a relaxing treatment at the hotel’s Serenity Spa. From start to finish, a stay at Seaham Hall is an experience like no other.
October is Taste Durham month, and to celebrate we’re giving away a fine-dining treat of three courses, wine and champagne for two at Seaham Hall’s award-winning Byron’s Restaurant. To be in with a chance of winning, go to www.thisisdurham.com/livingnorth