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|Address:||Swinton Park, Masham, Ripon, Yorkshire HG4 4JH|
|Price: £66.00||Wine: £15.99||Champagne: £41.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12.30-2pm 7-9.30pm (Fri-Sat -10pm)|
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We stayed at Swinton Park on the first night of our honeymoon, which happened to be my birthday to boot, so hopes were running high for a luxuriant, romantic, gourmet meal. Hopes compounded by spotting a cookery school in the grounds. Would this be a case of practice what you preach or physician heal thyself? I started with a beautiful chunky rabbit pate thing (although I am sure it was described as something posher like “parfait”) with a refreshingly sharp apple/celeriac shredded garnish, a nice marriage of flavours. My duck main lacked seasoning, but that was easily put right by a quick shake of the salt cellar, and was juicy, pink and perfectly cooked, if a touch rare. An unusual strawberry/basil sorbet concoction rounded the meal off nicely. The wine list is a joy to behold: a myriad of bottles in the £25-50 range with a few expensive outliers to tickle the fancy of any big spenders; we enjoyed a modest Mendozan Malbec. Service is solicitous (perhaps a bit too much- I don't need to be asked twice if everything is OK with the main!) but that's a reflection of the very high levels of service in the hotel generally. The aristocratic-portrait lined dining room is impressive, I just wish there had been a few more bums on seats so we didn't have to talk in those hushed reverential tones we so Englishly employ in near empty restaurants. This place tries hard to avoid milking you for the captured audience that you are: the cuisine may not be quite Michelin star worthy but it uses plenty of quality local ingredients, is interesting and competent, and doesn't cost the earth. Dinner was a very reasonable £57 a head (plus wine). I would highly recommend staying the night: DB&B packages are worth every penny in a place which combines an extremely grand location with perfect personal touches. It's so good in fact we've just booked in for the last day of our honeymoon too.