LEGEND has it that a demonic eel caught in the river Weir by a man called Lambton grew into a monster, terrorised the area and cursed his family for nine generations.
Known as the Lambton Worm, this legendary beast is the inspiration for its namesake inn in Chester-le-Street.
Driving through a respectable leafy suburb there is no missing The Lambton Worm, with its imposing facade and contrastingly quirky Union Jack front door. Pushing open the door, we stepped into the welcoming bar, a Sonnet 43 Brew House. An uber-friendly manager was on hand to check us in and show us upstairs to one of the 14 newly refurbished guest bedrooms.
The Lambton Worm is proud to describe itself as a micro-brewery tap pub and boutique inn, and our family room certainly lived up to its description. Decorated entirely in monochrome, the room oozed character with its luxurious, ornate rococo bedstead and matching vanity furniture painted in shiny silver. Splashed across a feature wall was a beer-related quote giving food for thought and a big plump sofa to sit and reflect on it. The theme continued into the black and white checkerboard bathroom with a bath and power shower, perfect for rejuvenating us ready for a night sampling the ales and food downstairs.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
It’s boutique with a brewery and pub thrown in.
WINING AND DINING
Unlike the bedrooms, the bar and restaurant are more in keeping with a traditional English inn with the addition of a few interesting nuances. With a couple of hours to while away before dinner we settled ourselves into the cosy bar and wondered “How Do I Love Thee?” We hadn’t had a few too many (at this point) – this is a line from Sonnet 43, the best known work of 19th century poet and local girl Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and it’s the inspiration for the brewery’s name and the six craft beers on tap. From the clean and crisp blonde beer to the moreish rosy brown, The Lambton Worm inn showcases the cream of Sonnet 43’s splendid wares. They were so good I had to try them all.
After our aperitif of beer, we moved into the restaurant, with its chunky wooden tables and hearty menus. Despite its large area, the restaurant felt inviting and intimate. The à la carte dinner menu made choosing what to order difficult due to the number of delicious sounding options. After deliberation I went for the smoked haddock Florentine to start. It was light and flavoursome and whetted my appetite perfectly for what came next. For the main event I opted for the braised pheasant with red cabbage, bubble and squeak and blackberry jus. It was delightful. Even my 10-month-old son Reuben (a budding critic) flapped his arms for more. For dessert I chose my all time favourite of sticky toffee pudding, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant with local produce and generous helpings. The full English is the perfect start to your day.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
If you can tear yourself away from the beer, there is lots to do in the surrounding area. We decided to take our son to the world famous Beamish open air museum, close by in Stanley. A delightful step back in time to the Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian eras, Beamish explores the folk history of north-east England in a hands-on, interactive way. Set in 300 acres of beautiful countryside, if you don’t fancy walking, travel by vintage tram or open air bus between farms, railways, villages and country estates. Buy old-fashioned sweets in the sweet shop, have a pint in the Sun Inn and visit a mine, a school, and for the brave, a gruesome Victorian dentist – all with fun activities.
The warm and friendly staff at this endearing and unique inn will be happy to tell you how the story of the Lambton Worm ends. It’s definitely worth a visit for that alone.
This place is also a beer drinkers’ paradise. Rather than recommending wines to match the food, the Lambton Worm recommends which beers to complement your meal. I was more than happy to accept their advice.
Rooms from £70 per night including breakfast.
North Road, Chester-le-Street, Co Durham DH3 4AJ. Tel: 0191 387 1162, www.thelambton.com