Food & Drink Reviews
The Waiting Room
When I heard that one of the north-east’s top destination restaurants was launching a calendar of Sunday night entertainment events under the title of Matchbox Cabaret, I felt compelled to check it out. So eager was I in fact, that my companion and I arrived an hour ahead of schedule. It’s easy to overestimate how long it takes to get to Eaglescliffe, with its nearby train station providing rapid transport links from as far north as Newcastle and as far south as Saltburn. No problem however for the excellent staff who warmly ushered us in from the autumnal weather to the comfort of the stripped pine, retro-lit surroundings of the main dining room, and had us seated, menus in hand within seconds.
Operations were in full swing to convert the second dining area from the venue of that afternoon’s charity event run by the resident branch of “Knit Club” (oops just forgot the first rule!), to something more befitting the entertainment that was to follow later. That didn’t hamper the swift delivery of our selections from the reasonably priced menu of organic wines, ales and beers, or the arrival of our first course. Mine was the mushroom, cashew and basil pâté (£5.45), a rich, unctuous, nutty delight perfectly complimented by the lingering hint of basil, and the gorgeous, oven-warm, homemade seeded bread. My friend’s pear, pecan and morden blue salad (£5.95) evoked appreciative murmurs verging on groans. My main of red pepper, chickpea and smoked paprika goulash with bubble and squeak cake (£11.95) delivered a mellow aromatic heat, while my friend opted for the more immediate kick of the spicy chilli enchilada with salsa, sour cream, grilled cheese and jalapeño (£10.95) and was certainly not disappointed. Desserts which included a deconstructed banoffee pie served in a vintage tea cup, and a light and piquant lemon cheesecake (£5.45) were duly despatched having been drowned in cream from accompanying pouring jugs.
The same consideration applied to constructing these interesting and varied menus has clearly been utilised when selecting the eclectic mix of acts on the Matchbox Cabaret calendar, which includes lauded Fringe festival comedians, vaudeville acts and musical performers. A short stagger to the rear dining room revealed that Knit Club had now morphed into something akin to the Kit Kat Club, and after squeezing ourselves into the corner of a comfy sofa we savoured our remaining wine, while listening to the soulful sounds of that evening’s headlining chanteuse. The perfect antidote to those HYPERLINK "x-apple-data-detectors://6"Sunday night blues!
The Waiting Room, 9 Station Road, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees. 01642 780 465. Check out their website for details of the new autumn menu and listings of future events: the-waiting-room.co.uk