Fine fare at the Flagship

The Flagship Restaurant at the Hartlepool College of Further Education.
The Flagship Restaurant at the Hartlepool College of Further Education.

A QUICK bite to eat is the stuff of most modern people.

But every so often, it’s a good idea to step back and enjoy the world.

And when the surroundings are as good as this, I think I will be stepping back more often.

I was at The Flagship Restaurant to try out its quite superb selection of foods. It was my first visit to the college’s new restaurant. It’s impressive.

It is spacious, airy, modern and inviting.

From the moment the waiter delivers hot, home-made bread it becomes clear that this is classy cuisine.

While this is a place designed to train up the next generation of catering talent, you’d never have guessed that it was anything other than the best in fine dining.

The menu itself is a good illustration of that, with a choice of a two-course menu for £10 or a three course for £12.

Each course comes with an option of four choices.

The starters included Whitby crab with a fennel salad, mango salsa, lemon grass jelly and a wasabi yoghurt, but I opted for pressed ham hock terrine, home-made piccalilli, with honey and sunflower toasts.

It could be summed up in one word. Outstanding. It was fresh, tangy, and the taste of every element stood out individually. The highlight was the piccalilli, which was unlike anything you will ever buy in a supermarket.

Good food is the sort which leaves you wanting more. I could have easily tucked into that starter as a main course as well.

However, I am glad I didn’t because the main itself was a winner.

I opted for slow braised pork belly with bubble and squeak, roasted parsnips, apple puree and crisps.

It’s hard to describe, but you know that feeling you get when you have had a top-notch meal and feel so good, you could happily nod off in front of a fire? I had it in abundance.

Happily, I was still awake which meant I could tuck into the best part of the meal – a warm chocolate fondant with banana crisps and galliano ice cream.

This was over-indulgence at its finest and I loved it.

The Flagship has other highlights including a stunning room-high “wine rack” filled with tipples for every taste.

Take my advice. Get there.

Chris Cordner

The Flagship Restaurant, Hartlepool College of Further Education, Stockton Street, Hartlepool. Tel. (01429) 295000