Country Pub Dining In Yorkshire (2006)
Yorkshire is home to many a good traditional pub, and with the cask beer and the horse brasses and the quaint rural location often goes hand-in-hand a reputation for home-made pub grub. People travel miles to find such places, the survivors, that haven't yet succumbed to the great pub chain massacre.
The Millbank near Sowerby Bridge is a relative newcomer to the pub gastro scene. This used to be the Anchor Pub -- mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the pub with the heaviest pub sign, an anchor! Then Glen Futter came along, having trained at London's Chez Nico, and gave the renamed pub a new claim to fame for offering top-quality food at reasonable pub prices. He's already made it into the Good Food Guide, picked up a Michelin Bib Gourmand, and been awarded the Yorkshire Post Dining Pub Of The Year 2005 and Manchester Evening News Restaurant Of The Year in the same year.
Nestled on a hill, once a watermill, in the riding of West Yorkshire is Shibden Mill Inn, just outside Halifax. In fact it was once a manorial water corn mill, first mention going back to the 15th century. This is a delightful old pub with plenty of character, good food and ale, set in its own grounds with plenty of parking -- on what was the now drained lake that fed the mill. You'll find other guests here who'll be very happily taking full advantage of the very comfortable, characterful and well-appointed accommodation. Well worth a visit and stay. Aside from the beautiful restaurant with equally well prepared food, you can take advantage of a private dining space, complete with antiques and exposed beamed ceiling. A really charming place all round.
Another classic country pub -- and in fact a sister establishment to Shibden Mill Inn -- has to be the Black Bull at East Marton, not too far from the tourist and market town of Skipton, with its castle, canal and pleasant town centre. Here in this olde worlde stone-and wood-lined bastion of tradition, you'll find a lovely warm welcome, open log fire, and warm and nourishing food, including Cassoulet, the classic Freanch stew that so rarely crosses the channel. And you certainly have ample room outside either on the terrace or in the attractive surrounding countryside. The nearby Broughton Hall (the pub is actually part of this estate) is set amongst 3,000 acres of beautiful Yorkshire parkland, and provides for an interested visit. Neil Butterworth is chef-patron here along with wife Jane who runs front of house. Neil was former Head Chef at the Shibden Mill Inn where he won the prestigious Yorkshire Life "Dining Pub of the Year" award alongside his AA Rosette for excellent quality of food.
A little further towards the border with Lancashire is another handsome pub that is full of charm and a huge open log fire, the Cross Keys at East Marton. Again great beer and a sizeable well-appointed restaurant in a traditional fit. You can also relax before or afterwards in comfortable chairs and sofas.
The Angel At Hetton is renowned the country over for its food excellence and warm and friendly character. This is in fact a very serious gastropub, with accolades coming out of its beams and ginnels, with the emphasis on comfort, relaxation and primarily the food. This is centred on modern Britsh, but with French and Italian influences in particular. It is also a marvellous place to turn up to just for a beer, coffee or a bowl of soup as they knowingly suggest - knowing full well you won't be able to resist the temptation to indulge as you've travelled all the way there. They also take their wine very seriously here, and have a marvellous converted cellar they call the wine cavern, where on a lunchtime, for a minimum of 12 people, you can partake of their tutored wine tastings. Aside from the restaurant, they also have a bar brasserie. All truly wonderful. The Angel's latest accolade was the 2005 White Rose Awards - Yorkshire Pub of the Year.
In keeping with the theme of culinary excellence, the Crab & Lobster at Topcliffe, near Thirsk, is a must for seafood lovers, where you can find an excellent seafood pie and much else besides, including a great wine list. This place oozes character, from the outside, in, with its thatched roof and eclectic interior. You'll feel cosseted and relaxed, indeed pleasantly surprised to find such a refined atmosphere in what is essentially a traditional country pub. But there is much more to it than this. They have superb accommodation and set in extensive grounds, it's a destination venue without a doubt.
Situated in what is one of the best pub locations to be found anywhere - next to Hardraw Force in Wensleydale, England's highest waterfall at 100ft -- is the famous Green Dragon Inn. This place exudes charm, character, and indeed boasts a lady ghost who wanders the rooms above the bar. Accommodation is provided with 17 en-suite guest bedrooms and seven self-contained apartments. With home cooking and a hearty breakfast, together with live music on occasion,, it's got everything you'd want from a Yorkshire country pub. And if you don't want to go to the expense of paying for the good value accommodation here, you can always pitch your tent on the campsite at 3 per person per night. Take a very scenic walk around Hardraw Scaur to the impressive waterfall -- especially so after rainfall - and further on into ancient woodland. It's a must.
The Windmill at Linton , just outside of the market town of Wetherby, is a disarmingly charming old place with its wisteria and ivy on the outside and characterfully poky wood-beamed interior. It does have a more modern, yet tastefully done, conservatory adjoining the more spacious main restaurant to one end of the pub, which looks out onto the rear beer garden, which in turn verges onto the river and a view of the local golf course. Again you'll find good beer here.
The Bay Horse in Kirk Deighton, north of Wetherby, affords a great little bar at one end, with the restaurant occupying the greater part of the pub at the other. It offers great food in very charming surroundings with a sophisticated rustic ambience. Their other gastropub venture, the Fox & Hounds, lies just a few miles east in the village of Walton, just next door to the 'other' British Library and document supply centre in Boston Spa. The Chequers Inn at Bilton-in-Ainsty between Wetherby and York is another pub of note that hasn't changed its essential character over the years from its earliest days as a coaching inn, and is also worth a visit for its beer and local history -- Cromwell fought one of his famous battles nearby. You can stay here and make it your inexpensive base with which to explore the area, with York and Leeds an easy 20 and 30 minutes respectively.
The New Inn, in the charming village of Clapham, is set in some spectacular countryside high up in the in the high and mighty Yorkshire Dales, where the buildings often reflect the light grey rocky limestone landscape in colour, contrasted beautifully with the vibrant green fields dotted with sheep and clear flowing rivers, waterfalls and the intriguing subterranean world of its hidden caves. This is National Park country, and this 18th century coaching inn boasts some fine rooms for accommodation, including a four-poster bed, and a fine dining room, which almost reaches the levels of ostentatiousness. The place is full with local character though, including oil paintings, photographs and locally made tapestries. Head Chef Andrew Whaley uses local produce wherever possible. Their milk and cream is from the cows in the fields around the pub and processed at the dairy down "The Green", delivered daily. Eggs are from Keasden and Game is purchased from local gamekeepers when available. The mainstay of beers hail from Copper Dragon Brewery, Tetleys, Thwaites and Dent Brewery. Ingleborough Cave, scattered with stalactites and stalagmites, and Gaping Gill -- the most dramatic of North Yorkshire's pot holes where water hurtles down in a single jet over 365ft to the floor - are nearby.
The General Tarleton at Ferensby, near Knaresborough, is exceptionally well appointed for a pub, and has a very high reputation as a high quality gastropub. The dishes are artistically presented and well balanced, rich in texture and colour. Heavy smart fabrics and stone walls provide a fresh and characterful setting in the restaurant to sample the fine fare on offer, while the bar itself is rich in dark oak wood and the same wonderful warm stonework. Contrastingly, the conservatory provides a light, relaxing space. Its accolades are too numerous to mention.
The Fountain Inn and Rooms is an old 17th century coaching inn, that not only provides great food and drink, but 4-Star accommodation too, in what is some of south Yorkshire's prettiest countryside, within a stone's throw of the area made famous in the series 'Last Of The Summer Wine'. Here you're in the foothills of southern Pennines close to the Peak District National Park and literally within a stone's throw of Ingbirchworth reservoir. Other attractions include the alien yet graceful and impressive mobile structures of the windmills of Royd Moor. The traditional dishes on the menu are spiced up and contrasted with more experimental dishes here. Everything fresh and again, locally sourced, as much as possible.
The Star Inn at Harome near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, has been awarded a Michelin Star every year since 2001. The thatched 14th century Star -- a fine example of a cruck-framed longhouse -- has been described as a, "Small but busy higgledy-piggledy Michelin-rated gastropub with rooms". Quite so. But you must see it to appreciate its endearing charms, from the quaint rustic bar with its open fire and bench seating, through to its dining rooms which range from the curious and quaint to the sublime. (the latter being the glass pitched roof of the private dining room up in the rafters, with heaven's branches wafting above you and a view of the blue or cloud stitched skies, or the starlit romantic night sky, whichever you chance upon). Then right up to the amazing bedrooms that look like you should only be spending special occasions here. Certainly much work has been put into setting the very high standards here.
The Rythre Arms (pictured above), situated in the North Riding in Ryther (interestingly spelt with an alternative ending), does a very good steak and is set in the pleasant flatlands of the vale of York, between Selby and the famous brewery town of Tadcaster. Flatlands aren't necessarily interesting places, but in fact this turns out to be so, complete with its dykes full of wildlife, several windmills -- both ancient and modern -- and further wildlife when the rains have fallen leaving interesting lake features to attract the birdwatcher or 'twitcher' variety.
The 250-year-old historic features of the Blacksmiths Arms in the pretty village of Flaxton, between York and Castle Howard, should charm the socks off your weary feet if you call in to find its open fire, beamed ceiling and Free House choices which include some stalwart favourites such as Timothy Taylor Landlord, John Smiths and Black Sheep. As all of our listed country gems here, this pub does a goodly line in home made dishes that are freshly and locally sourced where possible. Accommodation is available in the guise of a couple of tastefully converted barns.
The Duke of Wellington is out on the east coast in Danby, near Whitby, is an attractive ivy-clad traditional 18th-century inn. As it has accommodation as well, it's an ideal base for exploring the moors, Whitby and the coast. Built in 1732, the inn was used as a recruiting post during the Napoleonic Wars. An iron plaque of the Duke of Wellington was recently uncovered on the outside of the building and has been mounted on the fireplace in the bar. While it does not pretend to be up with the best of the gastropubs, it serves up simple, traditional British fare in a very traditional pub which has been marginally refurbished, keeping much of its character intact. It is simple traditional pub cooking, with no pretentious whatsoever. Reflective of the location.
The Hermit Inn in Highham, near Barnsley, in Yorkshire's South Riding has a lot to boast about in the form of its much-praised food, good beer and excellent surroundings -- both internal and in its location. Don't let the fact that this is located in an ex mining area put you off; there are some real gems around along with some characterful and charming villages in attractive countryside. The interior comes with that very welcoming beamed ceiling and plethora of brasses. Another good bet is the Spencer Arms in Cawthorne near Barnsley. With its open fires, beams, nice-planted exterior and good food, it's well worth a jaunt, especially as it's set in a nice little village, complete with a good antique shop.
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