As a vegetarian, there is nothing I love doing more than eating at vegetarian restaurants. Having a choice about what I want to eat is a delightful treat. However, like the majority of vegetarians, I am surrounded by friends and family that are meat-eaters. When I do go out to eat with my husband, friends and family, my dietary requirements remain firmly in the minority. Being vegetarian is therefore about fitting in around meat-eating companions, putting up with eating what is available rather than what you want. It is therefore about compromise.
While I have got one exclusively vegetarian restaurant listed below, I have included cafes and restaurants that cater for both carnivores and vegetarians. More importantly, I have included venues that have interesting and tasty meals for vegetarians.
Hexham and its surrounding area is a stunning place to visit. OK, so I might be a bit bias here as it is the place I grew up. But every time I visit my parents, I am astonished by its beauty and the fact that it is not inundated by tourists.
It is also a county that produces fantastic food. Hexham is the capital of the farming community that stretches as north as Kielder and as far south as picturesque Blanchland. Pubs, restaurants and cafes in this area often serve brilliantly high quality, good, wholesome, locally sourced food.
Barrasford Arms Cottage
Tel: 01434 681237
The Barrasford Arms is about a 20 minute drive north from Hexham and Corbridge and I have visited on some evenings when the restaurant area has been a little on the quiet side. This is such as shame because the standard of the cooking here is fabulous. Everything is made to order and the service is fantastic. However, don’t come here if you are vegan as the vegetarian options do centre around cheese (although I’m sure the chef could rustle something up for you). Personally, I think it is worth going to the Barrasford arms for the vegetarian starter alone. Each time I have visited, this has been a cheddar cheese soufflé which has always been outstanding. The vegetarian main course option changes with the seasons.
Tel: 01434 609943
If you can stomach the bizarre sexy boudoir-like interior decor, Bouchon, a lovely French restaurant tucked away in Hexham, is well worth a visit. To be fair, the decor was a hangover from its previous owners but it is probably about time it had a face lift. This restaurant won national acclaim by winning Gordon Ramsay’s best local French restaurant award in 2009. The menu changes a lot and I’ve had some beautifully crafted vegetarian meals which have included dainty tarts as well as herby gratins topped with a poached egg. The food here is rich and sumptuous and often includes fresh truffle and cream. It is therefore a great place to visit for a real treat.
The real stars at are Bouchon are the deserts. I’ve previously had a cherry clafouis which was unbelievably good. My dad recently had an Armagnac and prune clafoutis with walnut ice cream which he said is one of the best deserts he has ever had.
Bouchon gets quite busy with the great and the good of Northumbrian society so be sure to book before you go.
The Corbridge Larder
18 Hill St
Tel: 01434 632948
This deli-come-cafe is a gem in the heart of Corbridge. Downstairs is a shop selling local produce which include some of Britain’s best cheese from the Northumbrian Cheese Company. Upstairs is a bustling little cafe which is a great place to enjoy a bowl of hot soup or a freshly made scone.
11 St Mary’s Chare
Tel: 01434 656284
The Hexham Tans is a little vegetarian cafe tucked away on St Mary’s char, or ‘back-street’, as it is more commonly known in Hexham. It is a social enterprise for those who experience mental health issues providing training and experience in work related skills. The food is simple and hearty. Soups, stews, sandwiches and salads are on offer at very reasonable prices. It is cheap, the staff are lovely, and the profits all go to charity. What’s not to like? It is certainly a cafe worth supporting.
The Garden Station
Langley – On – Tyne
Tel: 01434 684391
The Garden Station cafe is set in a restored Victorian railway in a woodland garden a few miles from Hexham. It is in a quiet and peaceful corner of Langley and offers food they describe as ‘eco-gastronomy’. By this, they mean they use fresh seasonal ingredients that is locally sourced wherever possible. They describe themselves as a slow food, fair trade, ‘nourishment for the soul’ type of establishment. While this seems to promise a lot, it is essentially an afternoon tea, soup and a sandwich set up. The food is lovely and simple – but what I really like about this cafe is the scenery in which it is set. It has incredibly peaceful surroundings and be sure to have a romp around the woodland walk after you’ve eaten.
The Feathers Inn
Hedley on the Hill
Tel: 01661 843 607
Ok – so the Feathers Inn is a slight drive from Hexham and Corbridge (about 20 minutes), but this has to be one of my favourite pubs for food. Local produce is a high priority for the patrons of this pub. Fantastic vegetarian meals I’ve enjoyed here have included locally picked wild mushroom parcel which is delicate and fragrant. They also have a great autumn vegetable gratin with a chestnut sauce.
If you opt for the cheese to finish, a trolley is rolled out and you get to take your pick from both local and European cheeses. The burnt Northumbrian cream (or crème brulee and it is more commonly known!) is favourite among family and friends that frequent this pub.
There is nothing ‘chefy’ about food at the Feathers. They serve large and hearty portions that are likely to make you feel totally stuffed. So try to turn up to the Feathers hungry if you can!
Duke of Wellington Inn
Tel: 01661 844446
The Duke of Wellington serves lovely food. At the moment, they have a rich vegetable masala as well as a open wild mushroom lasagne for us veggie types. You can’t help but like the cosy, warm interior and exposed stone walls despite it moving slightly into generic country gastro pub territory
Vallum Farm Tea Room, Ice Cream Palour, Restaurant and Shop
1 Vallum Farm Cottages
Newcastle upon Tyne
This Farm has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. The number of artisan produces that stock its shop seems to be ever increasing, the ice cream parlour continues to sell incredibly rich and sumptuous ice cream made by Brown Swiss cows in nearby fields while the tea room is becoming ever more popular with visitors. What I really like about Vallum Farm is the restaurant run by David Kennedy. If possible, keep an eye on the website and try to visit on a vegetarian themed evening. You won’t be disappointed with the beautiful and robust local food on offer.
They seem to have everything covered here from cookery classes, a kitchen garden, wedding facilities and an in-house florist specialising in wild flowers. It doesn’t feel a million miles from Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s River Cottage.
Dipton Mill Inn
Dipton Mill Woods Path,
Tel: 01434 606577
I love this little pub. It reminds me of cold winter afternoons when I have walked over the South lip of the Tyne Valley into the warm and welcoming arms of the Dipton Mill. A roaring fire greets it guests on cold days while a beautiful and large garden adjacent to a tricking stream greets summer visitors. The food on offer here is very simple and rustic but it is mainly a great place to have a pint of local ale (there are usually five on offer). I once visited when the husband and wife team that run the pub spent the evening nit picking at each other but it was all in good humour and their eccentricity adds to the pub’s charming character.
The Rat Inn
Tel: 01434 602814
Much has changed in this country pub since my sister worked here as a grumpy teenager with bright red hair a doctor martin boots. She once grumbled at me for ordering a vegetarian meal as she was worried how the chef might react. Now under new management, this pub is a failsafe establishment serving pan haggerty of parsnips and wild mushrooms, topped with Doddington cheese to us ‘difficult’ vegetarian types.
If you think I’ve missed a great restaurant, cafe or pub from this list for the Hexham and Corbridge area, feel free to leave a comment below.