The cold weather has officially set in. ❄️?️That means one thing…a trip to Alnwick for the Christmas market, barter books, and of course, some delicious food.
During our recent visit to the historic town, we decided to dine at the Cookie Jar. As well as a bistro restaurant, they’re also an 11 bedroom boutique hotel. They’re clearly knocking the hotel game out the park, being named as one of the top 15 British hotels to stay in the North by the Sunday times and owning a certificate of excellence and a five-star rating on TripAdvisor.
The Cookie Jar aims to bring a level of hospitality to Northumberland, with an approach to sleeping, eating and service that is full of individual character, attention to detail and bags of style. We offer simple food, locally sourced, created and prepared by renowned chef, John Blackmore. We also serve specialist coffee from Pumphreys and are well equipped for all the outdoor pursuits you love.
The hotel is found directly opposite Alnwick Castle (perfect for anyone visiting) in an unassuming sandstone building. It turns out this historic building was previously a convent for 120 years!
From the exterior, the establishment seems much like any other in the area. That soon changes as soon as you enter.
The hotel is beautifully decorated, with a stunning dark-blue colour scheme throughout. The building benefits from ample natural light, so even on the overcast day we visited, it was still light and fresh.
We were welcomed at the reception and lead down the hallway to the rear of the building and into The Bailiffgate Bistro.
The dining room was impeccably modern and stylish. It was entirely different from what I expected from the outside of the building. The room was filled with eclectic dining themed decorations, including ornate framed cutlery to beautiful in-keeping plates.
From the beautifully patterned chairs to the metal-topped tables, the room was utterly brilliant.
The dining area was flooded with natural light from the rear windows, which overlook the garden area. Although it was too cold to sit outside during our visit, I have no doubt whatsoever that the garden would be an incredible setting in the summer, in which to enjoy afternoon teas and light bites.
The Bistro launched their new menu at the start of November. As we visited on a Saturday afternoon, we were treated to their Lunch Menu.
You can check out their full dinner and lunch menus on their website here: https://www.cookiejaralnwick.com/brasserie/
As well as their larger dinner dishes, they offer a traditional selection of soft drinks, hot drinks and baked goodies. After seeing their afternoon teas on Facebook, I’ve definitely got that in my sights for my next visit. Their selection of cakes on the sideboard looked more than a little tempting too.
Their lunch menu is reasonably priced, with a good selection of dishes. Again, it’s quite different from what you would expect from an Alnwick based hotel.
The table next to us were well impressed with the Geordie inspired dishes, pontificating over what a stottie was and regaling each other with stories of past visits to the toon. I’d give their Geordie impression a 3/10 but hey…can’t win them all ?
I was pretty torn between the risotto of the day (smoked chicken), the famous mac and cheese with ham hock (sounds amazing right!?) and the chicken souvlaki. After a little while of staring at the menu, I decided to flip a mental coin and went for the souvlaki.
When the dish arrived, I was happy with the choice I made. The portion was more than enough and it looked fantastic. The chicken was tender and perfectly seasoned, accompanied by soft, warm pita bread and tzatziki sauce (a personal favourite).
The crisp salad was made with really fresh veg and drizzled with a vinaigrette. Personally, I would have used shredded lettuce and gone more towards a Greek salad to match the dish. Maybe with tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, or olives. It felt a little like two separate dishes as opposed to one selection with which to fill the pita bread. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the dish, far from it, but it felt a little mismatched.
My wife went for the soup of the day which was spicy lentil. This came with the option of artisan bread or a scone. She opted for the cheese scone and if what came out isn’t the epitome of comforting Northern winter food then I don’t know what is.
The hearty soup was packed full of veg and flavour and exactly what you need on a cold day up North. The fresh cheese scone was a great option and went down a treat.
We also enjoyed a couple of hot drinks (their coffee is incredible by the way) and got some great tips from the owner about where we could visit during our trip. The service was fast, friendly and not overbearing in the slightest, which too many restaurants seem to struggle with these days.
The Cookie Jar in Alnwick is a fantastically stylish and relaxing bistro which I will no doubt be revisiting in the future. Their menu is a bold change of pace from what you would expect from a hotel in a medieval town like Alnwick.
They offer a great selection of Northern inspired dishes and mouth-watering baked goods which I look forward to trying on my next trip to the town and wouldn’t hesitate to book a stay there too.