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“Special, unique, warm, unpretentious” is one reader’s verdict on The Black Swan, while another settles for “inventive, sublime, always pleases”. Either way, you shouldn’t mistake the Banks family’s 16th-century pub-with-rooms for a bog-standard country boozer – even though it still has a rustic flagstoned bar, ‘Mouseman’ furniture, local ales on tap and lovely views of the rolling Yorkshire Wolds from the highly productive kitchen garden. The serious business takes place upstairs in the Michelin-starred dining room, where chef Tommy Banks offers “exemplary, creative AND tasty food” built around a challenging 12-course tasting menu that reflects the best of Yorkshire’s seasonal larder and produce from the family’s smallholding. Langoustines are paired with salted strawberries, scallops are cured in rhubarb juice, lamb is given the salt-aged treatment, and a signature dish of crapaudine beetroot is cooked slowly in beef fat – although other dishes such as cod with cauliflower and parsley strike a more conventional note. As proceedings head towards their conclusion, you might be offered ‘damson and kernel’, sheep’s milk with Douglas Fir oil or even ‘root vegetable toast’ – not exactly your run-of-the-mill desserts. Saturday lunch is a trimmed-back version of the full works, while the impressive global wine list offers a staggering selection by the 100ml glass (thanks to Coravin). The atmosphere is engagingly welcoming, the rooms are “beautifully furnished” and the whole place has alluring appeal.
SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2018 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2018. Thousands of readers took part and the results were moderated by SquareMeal’s editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The UK survey does not include any restaurants in London. Click here for the full list of SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
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Thirsk Station 12km
Northallerton Station 21km
Shandy Hall 2km
Byland Abbey 2km
Mon-Sun 6pm-8.30pm Sat 12N-2pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Whilst browsing the menu, an amuse bouche was presented. This was a demi tasse of celery soup, with almond and goats cheese garnish, (I couldn’t detect the almond) it was hot and tasty.
With the set lunch menu offering two choices for each course, we opted to have “one of each”, to cover all the options. (full a la carte is also available)
We were soon shown to our table where a bottle of chilled tap water was on the table, and one of each white & brown warmed bread rolls. These were a touch salty (though it could have been the butter but I don’t think so). Having swiftly devoured these between us, we were offered more bread when the starters arrived, which we duly accepted.
The mackerel fillet was crisp skinned, the finely cut ratatouille had a nice hint of spice, the courgette puree a touch of mint, for overall a nice combination. The terrine was well pressed and seasoned, and with the crisp shards of bacon and peas three ways (puree, whole peas and pea shoots) a sweet contrast.
For the main dishes, the coley was from a large fillet, with the flakes having just that hint of translucence, showing perfect cooking, the mussels plump and moist, and the lettuce still having texture although “creamed”. One minor complaint here. The sauce was a little thin, so although delicious, it would have to be left in the bowl. So a spoon had to be called for, to enjoy the luscious broth. (another table near us had to do the same – so you would hope they take the hint!)
Four large cubes of belly pork graced the other plate and this was very tasty and nicely seasoned. The crackling thin and crispy, an apple julienne for contrast and wilted baby gem lettuce leaves refreshing. Not sure where the “parsley” mentioned on the menu was, and the “boulangere” potatoes seemed to be randomly shaped small chunks cooked in stock, slightly firm but flavoursome none the less. The white onion puree needed “something”? to make it more part of the dish than “just a puree”.
Dessert of a raspberry and vanilla pavlova was a deconstructed dish. The raspberry in the form of fresh, dried, coulis and sorbet, the cream in two lightly set cubes, with vanilla seeds evident in them. The meringue in the form of sticks. Sometimes such as this can be too sweet, but the sharpness was contrasted well with the sugar of the meringue and cream.
The other “dessert” taken was a cheeseboard, after they had first tried to serve the “other” lemon dessert until my brother pointed out he had asked for the cheese (another mark gone for service!)
Three types of cheese, quince jelly, assorted crackers and a homemade chutney. Nothing wrong with that once it arrived.
A coke and a coffee were the drinks, and petit fours served too. A nice touch, but the “garden mint” chocolate was a little strange taste.
Overall an excellent meal, with a couple of minor faults, although the service could have been a little speedier, given the small number of other diners, I wonder how it would transpire if the place was full? A bill for £56 was well acceptable (coke £2, coffee & petit fours £4) for 1* Michelin lunch.
Absolutley another fine eating establishment not far from the A170, well worth a visit.
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