Review: The Rib Room Steakhouse & Grill
We visit County Durham's leading steakhouse.
We’d never been to The Rib Room before July 2020, always grabbing a bite to eat at Fusion on visits to Ramside Hall. But now that we’ve tried it, we’ve been twice in two weeks and we’re planning our next visit already.
The restaurant is situated in the main hotel and on both occasions that we visited (once at the weekend and once mid-week) it was packed – fully booked with tables still sitting down to dine at 10pm.
There was a good mix of hotel residents and locals who obviously enjoy having the quality steakhouse on their doorstep.
There’s a heavy French bistro influence which adds to the atmosphere. Walls are covered in prints depicting various French wines, Hotel Head Chef, Jim Hall, is classically French trained (more on Jim later), and the star of front-of-house is undoubtedly Jean Rouselle who has everything running like clockwork, has a fantastic memory, extensive wine-knowledge and a really welcoming style.
When we arrived we had a drink in the hotel lounge which is right next to the restaurant – great for people-watching with a mix of golfers, families, couples and guests.
The dress code is smart casual and it’s an establishment where people still do make a real effort to dress up for dinner – perhaps something to do with the classic vibe of the place.
We were greeted by Jean and shown to a large leather booth with our wine arriving on the table immediately – a great start of course. If you know your wines, the wine list is a good size with varying price points and an obvious love for Sauvignon and Beaujolais with plenty of options. If you don’t know your wine – ask Jean after you’ve ordered your food and you’ll be in safe hands.
The menu is extensive and obviously, meat is the main focus here. The steaks are all grass-fed Hereford beef, sourced locally in Durham and aged for 28 days in the hotel’s meat locker (which you can visit, if that takes your fancy).
There’s also a real focus on seafood at The Rib Room Steakhouse & Grill too though – well, in particular, lobster – which you can find in a tank at the back of the restaurant. Surf and Turf (£40.95) is a favourite of mine and this one doesn’t disappoint. Half a lobster, 8oz filet steak, garlic and herb butter, fries and salad. A tip from me, swap out the fries for the handcut chips because they are unmissable.
I’ve never had a Surf and Turf Burger (£25.95) and on our first visit, I just couldn’t resist trying it. Without fail when eating burgers in restaurants, I always ask for them to be cooked rare. In France, never a problem. In the UK, never possible – except here and I was delighted. When it arrived the beef patty was cooked to perfection (for me) and was topped with a really succulent and tasty piece of lobster in garlic butter. Divine.
One thing to note here is that the portion sizes are very good. Something we love, as on more than one occasion recently we’ve been disappointed by meagre food portions. But bear it in mind and come hungry!
Case in point, the starter of Prawns Pil Pil with Green Olive and Rosemary Bread (£12.00). The starter portion came as three of the largest, juiciest prawns I’ve ever tasted, with plenty of bread to mop up the delicious sauce.
The truffle linguine starter (£8.95) was better than most pasta dishes on offer in an Italian restaurant and again, a really hearty portion. For those looking for something lighter so that you can really leave room for your main, the mozzarella and tomato salad (£8.00) would be a good option as it’s the lightest starter we’ve tried so far.
For mains, meat lovers are in for a real treat here. On our second visit, I went for the 10oz Rib Eye (£24.50) which again, came perfectly cooked with a good amount of fat and a gorgeous homemade bearnaise sauce.
Those looking for a challenge, try the House Special of a 20oz Rib Eye (£34.95).
The menu really does offer something for everyone though, with plenty of vegetarian options too. I haven’t tried it but the Beetroot and Manchego Risotto (£15.00) on another table looked very good and was receiving high praise.
Jim Hall is Hotel Head Chef at Ramside Hall Hotel. We spoke to him to find out more about life in the kitchen at The Rib Room.
What’s your favourite cuisine?
I always find this a tricky question! I love all foods, from classical French cooking, Indian, Mexican and obviously steak. At the moment I’m really enjoying visiting Warsaw and trying the resurgence and refinement in Polish food. It’s traditionally such wholesome hearty food but they are starting to refine their cusine and my old colleague Patryk is at the forefront of that. But I just love all food, to be honest. If you start with fresh seasonal ingredients and show them respect you can’t go wrong.
If you could cook dinner for anyone in the world who would it be?
Friends and family, every time. Nothing beats sitting down to a feast of a meal, all washed down with some nice wine.
Which chef do you take inspiration from?
Quite a few, but mainly my older brother Rob who I trained under at the Oxford Belfry and Sam Hughes from my time at Sir Charles Napier. And of course Marco Pierre White – he’s the Godfather of chefs for me. Absolute legend.
What is your background?
I’m classically French-trained and have always worked in rosetted kitchens in hotels and restaurants.
Tell us why you love The Rib Room steak?
Hereford beef is renowned for its flavour so it’s about showing the beast respect and considering how we hang, age and look after our meat I think we do that really well. Butchering every single steak we sell by hand just makes it all more personal. You have a bigger sense of pride in the product knowing that you have aged it, butchered it down and cooked it. When I cook a chateaubriand or tomahawk and it gets carved on the passè I always get excited checking if it is cooked perfectly. Chefs do this nod of approval to each other every time – like bragging ‘i cooked that’. But honestly, the flavour in the end product is second to none. We render down all the fat to make dripping and cook all of our steaks in that. Our stocks and sauces are made from the bones, so we utilise every bit with no waste. All of this really shows in the end product.
In our opinion, The Rib Room Steakhouse and Grill is the real deal when it comes to steak in the region. For connoisseurs, the butchery and cooking methods make for a really delicious steak which has been cooked to perfection to various ‘doneness’ orders from various members of our party.
The varied menu means there is something for everyone but everything comes at a really high quality.
Finally, we love the hearty portions and French bistro atmosphere.
Laura’s ideal order:
To start: Prawns Pil Pil with Green Olive and Rosemary Bread
Main: Surf and Turf Burger (upgrade to hand-cut chips)
Dessert: Petit Fours to share