The Gastronome Restaurant Reviews - Raby Hunt Inn & Restaurant, Summerhouse, Darlington DL2 3UD

Raby Hunt Inn & Restaurant, Summerhouse, Darlington DL2 3UD

Visit: August 6, 2021

Price: ***


Award: 2 Michelin Stars


The Raby Hunt is a two Michelin star restaurant located in Summerhouse, County Durham. It is housed in a 200-year-old Grade II listed building.  We booked dinner and a room for the night (the room plus breakfast costs £275 per night).

The courses at The Raby Hunt use the best possible ingredients they can source, regardless of where they come from.  The tasting menu in the restaurant costs £230 per person, and there is an option to book a kitchen table for £330 per person.  The taster menu comprised 15 courses when we visited.  This might sound a lot, but the courses are perfectly balanced, so you will not feel you have eaten too much.  The courses are served at the correct temperature for you to eat immediately, so you should avoid taking too many photos!

There are six “Global” courses that are all one-mouthful.  These comprised an oyster tartlet (from Lindisfarne), cod ceviche (Peru), suckling pig taco (inspired by Mexican cuisine), nigiri and langoustine tempura (both inspired by Japanese cuisine), and a superb pastrami and foie gras roll (inspired by a New York style ham burger).  All these courses were exceptionally good.  The stand-out course for me was the “burger”.  This combined barbecued pastrami with foie gras all in a perfect miniature bread roll.

These were followed by six “Signature” courses comprising a superb laminated brioche, made by pastry chef Maria Guseva, a razor clam course, steamed halibut with a creamy caviar sauce, a lobster ravioli with an a L’Americaine sauce, squab, and finally a perfectly cooked A5 Wagyu beef.  Again, these were all exceptional.  The razor clams were superb, the lobster ravioli perfect and the Wagyu was outstanding.

The “Pastry” courses that followed comprised a raspberry and lychee Ile Flottante, a mango and jasmine Mille-Feuille and then the famous chocolate skull with a smoked, salted caramel centre.  All of these were very good, especially the Mille-Feuille with three layers of exceptionally light puff pastry, filled with mango and pastry cream, with a superb mango ice cream on top.Stuart Clarke Restaurant Review

The service was of the highest calibre.  Everyone was passionate about the restaurant and the food, and could explain each course in detail.  The sommelier was very knowledgeable and introduced us to some new wines and an exceptional Vermouth.

Our bedroom was situated above the restaurant, up a steep flight of stairs.  We were assisted with our luggage.  The room is relatively small and does now have air conditioning.  There was a fridge with cold drinks available.  The bathroom has a walk-in shower.  The room is perfectly acceptable for a one-night stay while you are enjoying the food in the restaurant.

The breakfast in the morning was unusual in that the eggs and bacon, or smoked salmon, were served on a waffle with avocado on the side.  I surprised myself and really enjoyed the combination!

This restaurant is a very strong 2-star, and a 3-star contender.  I will be returning, and I recommend you visit.  You won’t be disappointed!

The Menu:

The Food:


Breakfast menu:

The Breakfast:

The People

James Close was once a labourer then a professional golfer, and now he is a renowned Michelin Starred chef.  It was on a holiday in Girona, Catalonia, that James ate at El Celler de Can Roca, a three-Michelin Starred restaurant, and he was inspired to become a chef.

James’ family bought the property which would become The Raby Hunt in 2009, and he and his mum started out cooking pub grub for local drinkers.  James taught himself to cook, largely from books but also from visiting restaurants and eating the best food.

Within 3 years, in 2012, the restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star. In 2014, it appeared in the Good Food Guide’s Top 50 restaurants and remains there to this day.  It received a second Michelin star in the 2017 guide.

James was awarded Chef of the Year in The Good Food Guide 2017.

James’s partner, Maria Guseva is sous chef and oversees the restaurant’s incredible pastry creations.

The Restaurant

Outside the restaurant:

The Raby Hunt is housed in a 200-year-old Grade II listed building.  As it offers overnight accommodation it is classed as a Restaurant with Rooms


Inside the restaurant

The skull displayed by the entrance to the restaurant:

The motif skull, nicknamed “Freddy”, encased in the restaurant entrance doorway:

The hare on the way to the toilets:

The restaurant:

The Wine:

There are two wine pairing options – the Classic at £125 per person and the Prestige at £330 per person.  We chose a Gavi di Gavi white wine at £45 per bottle with all the initial courses, with a glass of Clonic 2015 red wine (at £15 per glass) to accompany the squab and a rare Horst Sauer 04 Riesling (at £20 per glass) to accompany the desserts.

The Celler Cedo Anguera, Clonic 2015 red wine is from Montsant, Spain.  It is rated 4.1 / 5 on Vivino.  The wine is slightly peppery, with black berries, and was perfect with the squab:

The dessert wine was a Horst Sauer, Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Beerenausese 2004 from Germany.  This superb, pale gold Riesling wine is rated 4.4 / 5 on Vivino.  Its sweet, but not overly so, with honey, marmalade and orange peel notes:

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