Swine & Dine at The Impeccable Pig - Eat Out to Help Out

26 Aug 2020

One little piggy may have gone to market, and one little piggy might have stayed at home, but this little piggy ate out to help out and went the whole hog! Yes, it's about time I did a blog post that detailed somewhere I've eaten during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and where better to talk about than The Impeccable Pig? If you've been a reader of this blog for a little while, you'll know that this is somewhere I've always wanted to visit (and stay at - those rooms look beautiful), and there was no better time to give it a go than during August for a cheeky little 50% off (or up to £10).

So if you haven't been properly introduced to The Impeccable Pig yet, let me do the honours. This somewhat unsuspecting restaurant sits on the Front Street in Sedgefield, and it's somewhere that you may have driven past countless times and never even noticed. It's set back from the road and has the look of a typical country pub, but let me tell you, it's so much more than that.

This eaterie boasts beautiful bistro food, 10 hotel rooms with luxurious decor and hot tubs, and an extensive wine list that the staff are happy to make recommendations from. And from the outside, you might never know that these things lie behind the doors to The Impeccable Pig, let alone the absolutely exquisite decor.

It's almost TARDIS-like, in that it looks like a little pub from the outside, but on the inside, it stretches much further back than you may expect, and has high ceilings adorned in trailing flowers. With plush seating, brass accents and countless Instagrammable spots, it's certainly a stylish venue for those of us that like a little bit of luxury.

But of course, what you're here for is to hear about the food. We booked our time pretty far in advance, and by chance, our date happened to line up with Matthew's first week on his new job, so it was like a little celebration. We turned up promptly and were impressed by all of the distancing measures in place. We were seated right by the open kitchen, which is where we love to be - my ex-chef other half bloomin' loves being able to see the kitchen at work. We set about choosing our courses and feasting our eyes on all of the delicious dishes that made their way through the pass.


Starters


As I say, we were treating this like a celebration dinner date, so we really went the whole nine yards and did three courses! You could say that we really pigged out...

For me, it was all about the pigs in blankets - not only because I love Christmas and those little bacon-wrapped sausages that only seem to make an appearance at that time of the year, but also because I'd seen photos of them during the lead up to our date, and they had my name all over them.

I definitely wasn't disappointed. My little dish was brought to the table with a stack of five pigs in blankets on a bed of salad. These sleepy sausages were wrapped up in their bacon blankets, ready to get comfy on top of the leaves and onions, and topped off with what I believe was a mustardy dressing and crispy pork rinds. It was all simply phenomenal! The sausages were gorgeously juicy and they paired up so perfectly with the tang from the mustard. The pork rinds added some extra texture, which made the whole dish a real taste sensation.


Matthew being a proper foodie and not caring if something was Christmas-related or not, went for the local home cured pork belly. This was served up with pickled carrot, radish, baked apple and English mustard puree, and as you can see, the presentation was simply stunning. Everything was arranged so neatly on the plate, which was a recurring theme for our dinner at The Impeccable Pig, and it shows that real time and consideration goes into every dish.

And while it's one thing to make your food look impressive, it's all in the eating, and I'm pleased to say that my other half snaffled down his starter as fast as his little trotters could carry him.

His pork belly was cooked to perfection - it wasn't chewy or tough, just delightfully juicy and tasty. He surprised himself by enjoying the pickled veg, which wouldn't usually be his bag, but it all worked so harmoniously. The baked apple sauce added some lovely sweetness, while the English mustard cut through with a sharp tang. Plus, that extra curl of pork crackling on top was a fantastic bonus!

Main courses


I feel almost slightly ashamed to follow Matthew's unbelievably delicate and poised starter with my choice of main course. Yes, I was that person who chose the cod and chips, but listen, I've only recently started enjoying fish and chips, and because of that, I've been trying it wherever I can. So it only seemed right that I try some from a place that I deem as 'fancy'.

Funny story, because we were sat right by the kitchen, Matthew saw my fish on the pass and was like, 'Olivia, have you seen the size of your fish?' I brushed it aside, thinking it was for someone else or it wasn't actually fish at all, and the kitchen were going to slice up whatever it was for a starter. I was totally wrong and when the killer whale of a fish was placed in front of me, all Matthew could do was laugh and say 'good luck!'

Monstro the battered cod was sat ever so neatly on top of some homemade chunky chips, and accompanied by a little dollop of mushy peas, a pot of tartare sauce and a wedge of lemon. And when I say I was head over heels for this dish, I completely mean it.

The fish was extremely light and the batter was a beautiful thin coating, rather than thick and oily like you might experience from a seaside fish shop. It cut so perfectly and the cod was flaky, but not dry at all. The chips defeated me because my goodness, they were huge, but I loved that they were homemade and you definitely can't go wrong with a chunky chip or two.


Of course, Matthew had to opt for something that was a lot prettier than my fish and chips, so he chose the crown roasted corn fed chicken, which was served up with sauteed cabbage with pancetta, porcini mushroom powder, black garlic, mushroom and thyme risotto, and chicken jus. Again, the presentation on his plate was just beyond anything I could ever dream of creating - it was like an edible piece of art!

I think chicken is one of those things that is always a bit hit or miss. Sometimes it's a bit dry or lacks flavour, and other times, it's absolutely spot on, and as you can probably guess, this occasion was the latter.

The chicken was brilliantly crisp, but inside, it was moist and almost fell apart when cut. It was seasoned to perfection and had that lovely warmth that only comes from roast chicken. The bed of risotto was somewhat homey and familiar, and the perfect accompaniment for the chicken, while the cabbage and pancetta added a whole other layer of flavours. The drizzled sauce was also a very welcome addition, and all round, the flavours were punchy and so mouthwateringly good.

As you may have guessed, we were both absolutely stuffed after these two courses and feeling happy as pigs in mud, but we couldn't help but cast our eyes over the dessert menu ever so slightly...



Desserts


While I was most definitely feeling swined and dined after our two courses, my attention had been caught by the dessert on the specials board. So I did what any respectable young lady would do... I waited 5 minutes for my food to settle and I ordered! How could I not when raspberry panna cotta was up for grabs? Especially when it's served with white chocolate ganache, vanilla sponge pieces and lemon sorbet - it sounded way too good to ignore.

And I'm bloomin' glad I chose to go with my gut, quite literally, because this dessert was just out of this world. It wasn't a heavy pud, like sticky toffee, but instead had a super light texture and just the right amount of sweetness after a pretty big meal.

The panna cotta had a gorgeous set to it and the tart raspberry flavour was simply divine when paired with the white chocolate ganache. The little sponge pieces were also a fun touch, and again, they were particularly lovely with the white chocolate. The lemon sorbet was absolutely delicious and provided just a touch of sour to the sweetness - it was a match made in heaven.

For my date, ever the chocoholic, he simply couldn't resist the chocolate, cardamom and orange torte, and I have to say, this was one of the desserts I was considering too. It sounded simply sensational, with its sides of honeycomb, tonka bean and hazelnut ice cream, and roasted hazelnuts. After seeking reassurance that he'd like cardamom and tonka bean, Matthew confidently ordered this pud and we were both amazed at the display on the dish.

I don't know anyone who doesn't love a torte, but this one was just something else. The only way I can think to describe it was that it had body. It was set in such a way that it was like cutting through semi-solid chocolate, so it was thick and soft, and kept its shape with ease. It was super rich and heavy, like on another level, which is why the portion is so petite, but that's definitely all you would need.

The chocolate was unmistakably dark and full of flavour, and this was highlighted by the orange and cardamom that peeked through. The pieces of honeycomb showed yet more cooking skills and provided a bit of sweetness and crunch to go with the smooth torte texture. But for Matthew, it was all about the ice cream and he's even described himself as being mesmerised by it. A lover of hazelnut, he was head over heels for the sweet nut flavour, as well as the slightly grainy texture from the ground hazelnuts inside. It was a real treat for the senses and overall, the whole thing went together like a dream!


So after this feast, this little piggy definitely needs to hit the gym, but believe me when I say that this is one of the nicest meals out I've had in a long time. From the food to the decor, everything was simply sublime and I've already decided that I need to visit again, if only to try the towering burgers that were leaving the kitchen.


It's hard to believe that Matthew and I only live a 10 minute drive from The Impeccable Pig in a nearby village, and that we've never visited before, but after this trip, it's well and truly on our radars. And for those who may be wondering, our three course dinner with two soft drinks and an alcoholic drink came to a little over £50 with the help of Eat Out to Help Out, so thank you Rishi Sunak for that sweet little discount!


Sometime in the future, we're definitely going to be staying in one of their rooms, so keep your eyes out for more foodie photos and hotel coveting soon!


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