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The Gretna Green (Newton Aycliffe, Durham)

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Address: Great North Road / Newton Aycliffe / Co. Durham / DL5 6JG / Tel: 01325 300100

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      04.05.2012 14:18
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      An ideal family pub with great prices in the County Durham area.

      Located on the Great North Road (A167) at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, The Gretna Green Hotel is a large family pub restaurant which I have visited a few times over the years. It is located just a couple of minutes drive from the junction with the A1(M) and therefore offers a good alternative to the MacDonalds and Burger King restaurants you will find at service stations in the area, if you are travelling and want to stop off for refreshments. It shares its large car park with the adjacent Newton Aycliffe Premier Inn and therefore is usually a busy place with local and passing trade as well as the guests staying at the hotel. Part of its appeal for families is the fact it includes a Wacky Warehouse play area for the kids, ensuring they don't get bored. When I first visited the Gretna Green a few years back it was part of the Two for One chain which meant you got two meals for the price of one all day everyday. It is now a Fayre & Square restaurant and whilst it is no longer two meals for the price of one here, they instead offer many 'square deals' which includes two meals for £10 or buy one meal at £7 for example and get another for £5. All deals are clearly explained on the menu and it still represents great value for money and is a place where families can afford to eat reasonably cheaply in my opinion without compromising on quality and portion size. Inside the pub restaurant it is large but cosy with dark wood furniture and tables and chairs, wood beamed ceilings and low lighting, although at one end the large windows allows a lot of natural light. At this end there is a raised seating area as well as floor level and over to one side is also a pool table and gaming machines. This is very much what I would call the adult area of the pub restaurant. The large bar sits in the middle, dividing this area slightly from the rest of the restaurant which is the larger part and where you will find the Wacky Warehouse. When you visit, this is the area where families tend to sit and so if you are a couple or with adult company then you are better off sitting in the quieter area. I have visited many times and never been bothered by noise or children running around at all. There is also a large outdoor patio area with tables and umbrellas which is popular on warmer days. I used to enjoy the meals served here when it was a Two for One pub restaurant, but my last couple of visits around 2007 I found were a little disappointing. The quality of the meals seemed to have gone downhill and therefore I didn't return again until last year when I noticed it was now Fayre & Square and decided to give it another go. Our meals were lovely and when earlier this year I needed a hotel in that area, I didn't hesitate to book the adjacent Premier Inn and we ate in the restaurant again. My last visit was just a few weeks back. It was a Sunday and the restaurant was very busy during the day. It was a warm sunny day, unusually warm for the time of year and many people were sitting outside as well as in. As well as the Wacky Warehouse, there is an outdoor play area for kids too. We were meeting up with friends on the evening and there was a pub quiz taking place later on. We decided to eat first and I ordered a 10oz Gammon Steak which came served with eggs or pineapple, peas and grilled tomato. This was part of a 2 for £10 deal which I thought was great value for money. The gammon steak was large and grilled just how I wanted it, juicy and full of flavour. The overall portion size was large too and whilst I am not particularly looking for large portions, I would rather be served them than the skimpy portions I have experienced at my local Wetherspoons when I counted six chips on the plate and the meal was more expensive than here and the quality quite poor. Therefore it is good to know that there are still decent meals being served at many pub restuarants at low prices like this which don't compromise portions and quality. Others in my party ordered a Square Burger which came in a toasted square bun with cheese and onion rings. It looked very tasty and my friend confirmed it was. This was part of a number of square burger deals on the menu. Other meals ordered were Steak and Bombardier Ale Pie and Rump Steak. Everything was perfectly cooked and tasty and all plates were cleared. The price of meals for the four of us was just £22. As well as the meals we chose there are a variety of chicken and fish dishes as well as other favourites such as Toad In The Hole. There are also vegetarian options available such as cheese, leek and potato pie and vegetable burritos for example. Drinks are also reasonably priced with the draft ales and lagers as well as a selction of wine and spirits. We took advantage of an offer whereby you bought two glasses of White Zinfandel and got the rest of the bottle free. We didn't bother with starters or desserts as the meal was enough for us, but there are a wide variety available on the menu and whilst we did consider ordering a cookie dough pizza to share as it looked lovely on the menu, we simply didn't have room. It was basically a large chocolate cookie designed to look like a pizza with upturned edges and the filling was made up of chocolate brownie chunks, marshmallows, white and milk chocolate and popping candy with sauce swizzled over the top. It looked delicious and we made mental note to try it at some point maybe with one of the Costa coffees they serve. Being a lover of Costa Coffee Lattes this is another reason I enjoy a visit to the Gretna Green. The pub quiz was ran by the bar manager and was a fun experience including music rounds where clips are played and there was a really good atmosphere. Some people appeared around 9pm just for the quiz and a couple of drinks and probably do this on a regular basis, but everyone was made to feel equally welcome. Toilets are large and spotlessly clean with good disabled access and smokers are catered for with outdoor areas with heat lamps. Meals are served from 12 noon until 10pm every day (9.30pm on Sundays) Overall I can recommend The Gretna Green if you are in the area or as a stop off on a journey on the A1(M), the adjacent Premier Inn is also a place I can recommednd if you need a place to stay in the Newton Aycliffe, County Durham area. The Gretna Green Hotel Great North Road, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, DL5 6JG Tel: 01325 776 871

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