“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 – a two-time winner of Great British Menu - offers “exemplary, creative AND tasty food” built around a challenging 12-course tasting menu of “gutsy flavours dressed in finery”.
Banks’ family has lived in the area for generations and the menus reflect the best of Yorkshire’s seasonal larder and produce from the family’s smallholding or foraged from the surrounding hedgerows and woodlands.
The “knowledgeable yet approachable” staff “explain every course in detail”. 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 vegetarian and vegan tasting menus can be provided with advance notice.
To drink, the impressive global wine list offers a staggering selection by the 100ml glass (thanks to Coravin) and there are “interesting cocktails and juices”, too, with homemade cordials and liqueurs to the fore. The atmosphere is engagingly welcoming with a “great vibe”, the rooms are “beautifully furnished” and the whole place has alluring appeal. Quite simply “a wonderful experience”.