Feeling Peckish At The Scruffy Duck, Norton

2 Oct 2020

 


Norton is a pretty up-and-coming area of Teesside, and even seen it compared to the food and social hotspot that is Yarm. And to be honest, I think I have to agree! This area of Teesside isn't one that I've explored too much, but there are a few places there that I've been itching to cross off my list for a while and one of them was The Scruffy Duck

Now, this is a pretty new food venue on the scene, having only opened officially in July of this year after lockdown, but it's a spot that's been on everyone's lips. I'd seen people raving about the decor, I'd seen people going mad for the breakfasts and I wanted in! So you can only imagine my excitement when I saw that they were taking part in Teesside Restaurant Week and I booked as quickly as I possibly could to avoid any sort of disappointment.

Before I dive into telling you about the delicious food we ate on our trip, let me take you on a little trip down memory lane with the history of this beautiful gastropub. The Scruffy Duck building as a whole is a piece of Norton history, as it was built around 1870 as an inn and coach house called The White Swan. Known by locals as The Mucky Duck, the owners wanted to preserve this history with a new name! They have poured a lot of love into the building, using reclaimed and vintage pieces to bring it back to life as a traditional and cosy British pub. The panelling throughout the building is 100+ years old, with the bar front being reclaimed from a Welsh church and the tiles in front of the bar are original Art Deco. The overall look is just stunning and it's worth going, even if just to soak it all in!


If you haven't been keeping up with the Tees news, Teesside Restaurant Week is now over for 2020, but it was a week from September 28th - October 2nd, where we were all able to grab a three course meal at a selection of indie restaurants for only £15. Yes, a starter, main course and dessert kind of deal for only £15. It was a complete steal and a brilliant way to support some local restaurants! Obviously, I couldn't say no to trying out one of the top places on my list for such a fantastic price!

First things first, the covid measures were fab. We were asked to scan the QR code with Track & Trace, we used the sanitiser before walking fully into the pub and we wore our masks until we were seated. All of the staff wore masks (which were personalised with little orange duck beaks - adorable) and the tables were well spaced to keep to social distancing. It was pretty fab all round!

Starters

To start, I chose the oak smoked salmon parfait, which wasn't the prettiest thing to photograph, I can't lie, so it didn't make it into this blog post. However, it was absolutely gorgeous! Served up with caper popcorn, apple creme fraiche and ciabatta crisps, this was a deliciously fresh and light way to start my meal. I was obsessed with the crunchy ciabatta crisps, which paired so perfectly with the salmon flavour. I will say, though, if you don't like fish, this isn't the starter for you!

If salmon doesn't float your boat (see what I did there?), the soup of the day maybe the one for you. This is what Matthew chose, without even asking what the soup was, and was pleased when a steaming bowl of root veg soup turned up, topped with garlic and herb croutons, and accompanied by sourdough toast. This was a hearty starter and something that was ideal for the cooler temperatures we've had as of late. It was peppery, filled with chunks of tender veg and didn't last long at all! Despite it being something that Matthew wouldn't normally choose, it went down a total treat.


Main courses

After our scrumptious starters, we had pretty high hopes for our main courses. The menu was short and sweet, so we each picked something different from the four options that were available - mainly because we like to try as much of the food on offer as possible, but also because it's a bit boring to get the same thing!

If there's steak on the menu, it's hard for me to look elsewhere, so when I saw that marinated barvette steak was available, I absolutely jumped at the chance. I asked for mine to be cooked medium rare and as you can see from the photo at the top of this post, it was cooked to perfection. It was pink, juicy and so tender - just how a steak should be.

One thing that threw me off was the thought of the bone marrow sauce that it was served with, but I surprised myself and absolutely loved it. It was sort of like a very rich gravy, except quite thick with a very meaty flavour. It was honestly beautiful and it just goes to show that you shouldn't judge until you try! It paired up so well with the meat, but I also enjoyed dipping my crispy fries too!

Matthew also had no troubles choosing his main course (in fact, he'd already peeped at the menu before we arrived and decided what he was having) and went for the jambalaya. We like to make a similar meal at home, but the Scruffy Duck's version was leagues ahead of ours. His plate was filled with seasoned rice, chicken thigh meat, chorizo and prawns - seriously, the portion was more than generous.

This was quite the filling dish, thanks to the huge amount of rice and meat, but he certainly wasn't complaining. The chicken was tender, the prawns were massive and incredibly juicy, and the rice had just a slight hint of heat to it that made for a lovely warm belly. This, combined with the root veg soup, made for that quintessential comfort food meal that you have during autumn or winter.

It's fair to say that both of us loved our main courses and there wasn't a scrap left on our plates!


Desserts

You guys know me, I'm a dessert person and if I didn't have something sweet after my meal, I'd feel a bit incomplete. Luckily, the third and final course was included in the £15 price tag, so it would've been exceptionally rude to say no.

For me, I wanted something warm, homey and nostalgic, so I chose the orange and cardamom steamed pudding. This was served up with a pool of ginger creme anglaise and let me tell you, the whole combination was to die for. I wasn't even entirely sure if I like cardamom before I ordered, but the idea of orange steamed pudding with a ginger creme anglaise just sounded heavenly. Lo and behold, I think I like cardamom!

Contrary to what you might think, the steamed pudding wasn't at all stodgy, but it was quite light and spongey, and topped with an incredible orange syrup. The main flavour was definitely the orange, but the cardamom sang through and added a little hint of spice to the sweetness. Then of course, the ginger creme anglaise was a match made in heaven for this cake - just the whole combination of spices and warmth... it was a taste sensation!

For Matthew, after two courses of comfort food, he took a turn down the cold dessert route and opted for the dark chocolate marquise. This was something that he said he'd never had or even heard of before, so I was curious to see his thoughts. He surprised himself by finding it quite moussey in consistency and less 'dark' than he expected. It was a winner!

The marquise featured an embedded brandy sponge, adding a slightly different flavour and texture to the chocolate, as well as a side of boozy brandy cherries and white chocolate ice cream. It was a particularly decadent dessert and I helped myself to one or two (or all) brandy cherries, just so I could weigh in on the action. It was a lovely light finish to Matthew's heavy meal.


All together with three drinks, this meal cost us just under £40, which is definitely thanks to the Teesside Restaurant Week menu. The food was amazing quality, the ambience in the restaurant was lovely and we couldn't fault anything to do with the covid measures.

However, our only negative is that it took an extremely long time to get our bill. We asked for it, then watched as our waiter served other people and took other people's money. It took him around 20 minutes and another prompt for him to tell us that he'd completely forgotten about us. It wasn't the best way to end the meal, but it definitely won't deter us from coming back in the future. We want to sit in the bar with the terrace, so we'll absolutely be returning soon.

Have you tried The Scruffy Duck yet?

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@thenorthernist