One of my favourite philosophies in life is to work hard and play hard and if I can combine the two then that's even better for me.
When Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle's only independently owned boutique hotel, asked me to come along to review their Champagne Breakfast, I didn't hesitate. This sounded absolutely ideal for me given that I work for myself so often need to meet with clients and if I'm not meeting with them, then I'm meeting with friends.
Jesmond Dene House has been on my radar for quite some time now. I've been hearing great things about its award winning restaurant for years now and since it is owned by the same people as the St Mary's Inn, who serve a fantastic afternoon tea which you can read about in this post, I kind of already knew that I would love it before I even went.
Steeped in history, Jesmond Dene House has been around since 1822 when Newcastle architect, John Dobson, designed it for the Mayor of the city. It was bought by Sir Andrew Noble who had many notable figures stay or dine at the house, including Rudyard Kipling! The house was acquired by Newcastle City Council in the 1930's and since it has served as a number of establishments including as a place for Civil Defence, of which there are still tunnels under the house, and most recently as a residential school.
In 2005, the grade II listed property opened as the boutique hotel that we know today and although it has had many improvements and additions over the years, the house has remained very authentic.
What I loved instantly about Jesmond Dene House is its setting and location. The building itself is absolutely stunning and is surrounded by woodland. It is that peaceful and surrounded by so much nature that you'd be forgiven for thinking you're in the countryside when really you're a 5 minute drive away from Newcastle city centre.
The fantastic location makes Jesmond Dene House an ideal place to stay if you're visiting Newcastle on business or for leisure and it is the perfect meeting spot for those in the area to catch up with friends, family or business associates.
The idea of going out for breakfast really appeals to me, although for some reason, up until the last year or so, I have always thought of it as quite an American thing to do; perhaps I watch too many films.
I started meeting friends for brekkie last year as our schedules often meant that that was when we both had time free and I quickly loved the idea. A great breakfast really sets you up for the day yet it is a meal that I often neglect so to get up, get ready and head out the door for breakfast is really beneficial for me.
Upon entering Jesmond Dene House, my friend and I felt immediately at ease. For such a grand building, it has a very relax, laid back atmosphere that makes you feel at home straight away. It has the right balance between being traditional and modern and it is packed full of local artwork and sculptures, including these fantastic dog status made out of wire.
We were seated at a beautiful table right next to the window where plenty of natural daylight flooded in. There's something about the morning sun that really gets me motivated for the day. The restaurant has plenty of different seating areas with a great mix of larger and smaller tables so whether you're dining with your family or as a couple, there is plenty of space and the opportunity for privacy.
I love that they have tables outside too for if you'd prefer to sit outside when the weather is warm or for if you're passing, walking your dog and would like to rest your feet with a glass of wine later in the day.
The Jesmond Dene House Champagne Breakfast is served daily between 7 and 10am Monday to Friday and from 7.30 to 10.30am on weekends and it is open to both residents of the hotel and non residents, which I don't think many people actually know about.
My friend and I ordered fresh coffee and orange juice with toast and preserves, before choosing between the sweet and dry champagne options.
Jesmond Dene House have recently introduced a new House Champagne to hotel residents and diners of their 3 AA Rosette Restaurant.
The Champagne Palmer & Co, Brut Reserve, NV is describe as 'gold in colour with an ultra-fine bead of mousse, the Palmer Brut Reserve expresses subtle notes of white flowers with citrus and whispers of field mushrooms on the nose. The palate is creamy and silky in texture; citrus fruits up front are backed by notes of buttered brioche high notes. Soft chalk minerality draws up the finish which lasts on the palate.'
For me, this was very much an easy drinking champagne, if such a thing should exist; I think it will appeal to many people. This champagne isn't too dry, has subtle honey and brioche notes and a fresh taste, making it the perfect accompaniment for breakfast time. Both my friend and I really enjoyed it and we do have different tastes when it comes food and drink.
Those dining from the Champagne Breakfast receive their choice from the varied cooked breakfast menu as well as the option to help themselves to the full continental breakfast spread in a room adjacent.
Since we arrived right towards the end of service, the continental selection wasn't as fully stocked as it would have been first thing that morning but there was still plenty of choice available across all of the different types of food. This shows how fresh the food is and we found the selection to be plentiful, with more than enough for us to choose from.
Everything that you should expect from a continental breakfast spread was there and more; from bircher muesli, cereals and yoghurt to smoked salmon and home-cured gravlax, along with cold meats and cheeses, freshly baked bread, a Danish and croissant selection and fresh fruit salad, fruit compote and poached pears.
Since I was saving myself for the main event, together with my champagne, I opted for a few slices of cooked and cured meat, some fresh honey to have with a slice of toast and a slice of watermelon. Everything tasted high quality and fresh which is what I would expect from an establishment like this.
It wasn't long before our cooked breakfast arrive and it certainly didn't disappoint.
I chose the Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs with Toasted Brioche, served with a sprig of watercress and a slice of lemon. It tasted indulgent and light in equal proportions and was the perfect way to start my day.
I don't like to have anything too heavy on my stomach first thing on a morning but I do like to feel satisfied, comfortably full if you will, and this was perfect.
One thing that I must note is that my eggs were cooked to perfection. I rarely order scrambled egg when I'm out for breakfast as I'm very particular about my eggs; sometimes they end up so over done that if you threw a spoonful across the room, it would stick to the wall. I'd hate to appear rude but I just can't eat them when they're all rubbery like that but I decided to take a chance at Jesmond Dene House and I'm glad that I did; they were delicious!
My friend ordered the most Instagram worthy dish; the Haggis, Duck Egg and Salsa Verde which looked absolutely incredible! It tasted indulgent and filling thanks to the haggis and duck egg yet it had this fresh kick to it from the salsa verde which was a welcome contrast.
It is a real treat when you get a meal that tastes as good as it looks and this one was so delicious that we both agree that we would order the same again on our next visit!
If you're a visitor to the Newcastle area, working or living there then I'd highly recommend popping by Jesmond Dene House for breakfast. The Champagne Breakfast gives your day an indulgent and luxurious start in peaceful, relaxed surroundings.
I'm so grateful to have visited as I didn't realise how accessible the hotel was for non residents. It is very much a place where you can pop in for a coffee or a glass of wine with a friend, meet over breakfast with a colleague, enjoy lunch or dinner with family and indulge at night with their tasting menu on a date.
You can find Jesmond Dene House on Jesmond Dene Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE2 2EY.
For more information and to book, head to their website here or call 0191 212 3000.