Visit Newark and take a trip along the River Danube
It was her travels around Europe, coupled with her passion for food, which led Ramona Holland to leave her career in finance and set up Danube Cafe and Restaurant in Newark. Inspired by the Danube River, which starts at the Black Forest in Germany and meanders through 10 countries to the Black Sea off the coast of Romania, it celebrates not only the cuisine but also the culture and customs of this beautiful region.
My colleague and I visited the restaurant one Friday lunch time and we were greeted with the warmest of welcomes from Ramona and the young waiter Benjamin who showed us to a window seat looking out towards the ancient ruins of Newark Castle. Inside, the restaurant had a distinctly continental atmosphere; pictures of imperial cities hung from the wall while the sound of classical music filled the room.
“It’s not just a food experience. I also want it to be a cultural experience,” explains Ramona who came to the UK from Romania 15 years ago.
“I wanted to introduce people to central and southern Europe. All the music, all the photos on the wall are all about the River Danube. Everything we cook is a family recipe but made using local ingredients.”
The carefully-created menu immediately transported me back to holidays spent in Germany, Austria and Slovakia. There were hearty dishes such as Schnitzel and Frikadellen (a type of meat ball) but after much deliberation I chose the whitebait cooked in breadcrumbs followed by the 24-hour slow cooked ox cheek, which was perhaps the most tender I have ever eaten. My colleague, meanwhile, went for a vegetarian option – goat’s cheese salad followed by a sweet potato and parsnip bake which was bursting with aubergine, courgette, tomato, garlic and basil sauce.
Ramona, who worked in the financial sector for most of her working life, set up the restaurant just over two years ago and although she creates all the dishes herself, she now employs a chef so that she can concentrate on front-of-house. And despite the fact that it has only been open a relatively short period of time, Danube has already won lots of loyal fans including the team from TV show Bargain Hunt who have taken advantage of Ramona’s outside catering service when they have hosted events at Newark Showground.
Danube, which is on Castlegate, is the perfect place for a lunch or dinner stop while you are exploring the attractions around Newark. Lunch is priced at £10.95 for two courses and £13.95 for three courses. A set menu of £13.95 for two courses, or £16.95 for three courses is available in the evenings along with an à la carte menu. In addition, the restaurant also hosts numerous events – and there are plenty to look forward to including a Father’s Day celebration and a German and Austrian wine tasting evening. Updates will be available on the What’s On section of our website.
Further details on Danube, including menus, are available on the website. For outside catering enquiries contact Ramona on 01636 610661.