“ Address: Queen Alexandra Road / Sunderland SR2 9BT / Tyne & Wear „
The Rosedene on Queen Alexandra Road, Sunderland is a pub that's featured through my entire life in some way or other. In fact my very own christening party was held here thirty-four years ago, though I of course don't remember that. I do remember though as a child thinking it was rather grand. It's located in one of Sunderland's more affluent and leafy areas, surrounded by large houses I dreamed of living in as we passed. My parents would often go for drinks here on a Saturday night and I thought it was very sophisticated. In truth though I was seeing it through childish eyes and it wasn't as posh as I believed, although it has always been a very, very nice pub.
Over the years I've made sporadic visits, but a move from the area in 1990 meant that for the following couple of decades I never thought about The Rosedene at all, much less visited. But then a couple of years ago on a visit to my elderly grandmother with my parents, which requires an obligatory trip out for lunch, we decided to try something different to the usual garden centre and The Rosedene was suggested.
Over the years The Rosedene has changed a lot in some ways, becoming part of the pub chain Greene King. At the same time it's kept it's original charm and features and retains a slightly grand atmosphere. The building itself is a huge Georgian mansion and the company have respected how it fits into its surroundings and signage is minimal and tasteful. At the front is a huge car park (an indication of how popular this pub is, particularly on a Sunday lunchtime) while round the back an airy conservatory spans it's length offering additional eating space. A wooden veranda with outside TV screens provides outdoor seating popular on match day. I like how modern conveniences have mingled in discreetly with the beauty of the front of the building without compromising it at all. The entrance leads into a large vestibule, which in turn leads to the bar, function room and toilets. It's decorated traditionally, with thick deep coloured carpets and chandeliers adding a little luxury. Both the bar and the function room retain that traditional design too with brass and dark wood furnishings.
We decided to sit in the conservatory on this particular visit and found ourselves a large table that seated the four of us very comfortably. The menu is a standard company menu, although more comprehensive than most and specials are offered on chalkboards. The Rosedene offer a 2 for £10 menu and as there was something we all fancied there, we ordered from this. The waitress took both our food and drinks orders and within fifteen minutes we were tucking in. I'd ordered Salmon Quiche, served with salad and chips and it's possibly the nicest quiche I have ever eaten. It was warm, light and packed with salmon which tasted fresh (I have had salmon quiche in other places were the salmon tasted overcooked and rubbery due to reheating. This wasn't the case here) Considering it was part of a 2 for £5 deal, the portion size was extremely generous, though I still managed to finish every mouth-watering bite. The chips were also very good and the coleslaw was exceptional. I thoroughly enjoyed it all.
My Father had ordered a tika masala, which he also enjoyed very much and was impressed with. As this is his dish of choice every time we eat in a pub he has a lot to compare it with, ranking it in his favourites. Both my Mother and Grandmother ordered fish and chips, although it looked more like a whale! The fish were huge and the light crispy batter was filled with chunky white cod. I had a nibble of my mums and almost wished I'd ordered it myself. As it was so large, my grandmother only managed half her plateful and when the waitress came to clear the plates she was very concerned that she hadn't enjoyed it. When my Gran explained it was delicious, just too much she advised her to order the children's portion next time and it wouldn't be a problem. She was very chatty and friendly and put us all at ease. Although the desert menu looked delicious (I was tempted by the white chocolate cheesecake) we just couldn't fit another mouthful and decided against one. We were all very happy with our meal and service, the only slight downside was the air conditioning was a little chilly in the conservatory despite it being a warm day and as I was sat directly below, I felt a tad uncomfortable at times round my neck.
Having been impressed with this visit, my mother returned several times when taking my Gran out and was always impressed (and also managed to try that cheesecake and reported it was out of this world!) When my Gran's Eightieth birthday approached this year and we decided to have a small get together with close family and friends, The Rosedene was the obvious choice. We arranged for twenty people, including ourselves, to eat in the function room. Unfortunately as our party was relatively small we wouldn't get the room to ourselves but we were given our own space at the far end and despite other guests it still remained intimate. We'd agreed that Sunday lunchtime would be the ideal time, as my Gran is quite frail and would never cope with a huge evening do, and decided we'd make it a little surprise. The staff at The Rosedene were all extremely helpful in setting this up, allowing us to deliver a cake earlier and seating and entertaining our guests who arrived before us.
We arrived just after 12pm, and although the car park was busy, the function room was large enough to not feel crowded and our party of twenty seated easily and comfortable at one long table. My Gran was overjoyed to see everyone, believing we'd only came for a small meal, and especially my brother who had brought his family up from Essex. His stepdaughter uses a wheelchair and her mother found it easy and roomy to manoeuvre her around the room and felt she was accommodated very well both in the restaurant and the toilet facilities. All together there were 4 children under the age of 6 years, but not once were they made to feel out of place and were welcomed by the staff who even found them some old wedding balloons to play with.
Our menu was a cut down bar menu, but the majority of the party opted for a Sunday roast (steaks, salads and vegetarian options taking up the rest) and we were all served quickly and efficiently despite how busy the pub was by this time. Everyone enjoyed the meal and I'd be happy to go here again anytime for just a general Sunday lunch. We had brought our own cake, and the lovely waitress brought it out to my Gran, and even added a sparkler to it. They were just so attentive and thoughtful it made the whole experience fantastic. After coffees and a couple of rounds of drinks our guests left at around three pm and we went to pay the bill feeling a little nervous. However, the total cost for all twenty of us was just short of £250 and considering the delicious food, a couple of drinks a piece and the brilliant service we felt this was extremely well priced.
Having now recently used The Rosedene for a midweek pub lunch and a small function I feel I can highly recommend it. The building is stunning, the food is delicious but what makes it worthwhile is the friendly and attentive service from the staff who go out of their way to make sure you have what you need, despite the fact more often than not they're rushed off their feet. I'm only sorry this isn't our local pub anymore, although it will always be top of the list of places to go and eat when visiting my Gran. They cater well for both the elderly and children, showing great consideration to both and making it an ideal family restaurant. If you're looking for somewhere to have a nice bar meal out of the bustle of the town centre, or a function then I suggest you take a look here.
More info: http://www.therosedene.co.uk