An interesting looking turn off from the main road led us accidentally to a village where I dropped off my wife, in the pouring rain, at the door of the Inn at Hawnby. Whilst I parked the car she was unimpressed by the lack of service at the bar, especially as the bar was fairly busy, but staff eventually arrived to deal with the increasing queue. Despite the level access into the bar the only WC on that level was the Gents, but staff dealt with my wife's needs with good humour and tolerance as she used those facilities (with which she was most impressed). As I enjoyed an excellent pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord bitter, and Mrs Riverdale a glass of still, somewhat sweet, apple juice from the kitchen, whilst perusing the menu, the bar was filling up. Exploration revealed a pleasant, airy dining room so, despite the muzak, we decided to decamp there.
The restaurant service showed signs of the busyness of the place with long-ish waits between courses and crashing of crockery and dropped cutlery when plates were cleared, however there was a good understanding of my wheat allergy (except when a rather glorious looking piece of fruitcake arrived with my cheese) and time was found, as things quietened down, to discuss the menu, the cooking and the premises.
Pan Fried Fillet of Mackerel was perfectly under-cooked and accompanied by a salad/garnish of raw fennel and orange which was nicely balanced.
My rib eye steak was very good, cooked exactly rare and served with beautifully roasted shallots but over dressed with rocket and pecorino shavings, so much so that one couldn't see the steak on the plate because of the pile of greenery on top. Pan Fried Fillets of Sea Bass were again perfectly cooked as was the bed (more a scattering but none the worse for that) of mediterranean vegetables with vine tomatoes and a basil and garlic dressing which was good.
A dish of general vegetables comprising good new potatoes, carrot batons which were a tad over-cooked, as was the cauliflower but not unpleasantly so, and fine green beans which were perfectly cooked, accompanied.
No wheatfree desserts but the cheese board was adequate, in places excellent (the Wensleydale) and included a local quince cheese. The White Chocolate and Strawberry Cheesecake came with a serving of local ice-cream and a separate strawberry sauce and was excellent.
A fair few wines by the glass of which the chosen Rioja was interesting, not typical but I liked it a lot, not so much Mrs Riverdale who thought it 'musty'. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc was as expected. Another cup of the good espresso that seems to be the norm in the better restaurants in North Yorkshire.
It was good to see linen napkins in the restaurant (I don't know about the bar), and interesting glassware and crockery, but the narrow rectangular plate my steak arrived on couldn't be set close to the edge of the round table we sat at.
The bill of just over £70 was less than other places we had tried locally whilst providing much better food.
Set in an idyllic position between Helmsley and Osmotherley this inn would
be the perfect place for a holiday for the physically active accompanied
by fine food and drink. For me it didn't quite match the Fox & Hounds
at Goldsborough for the quality and style of the cooking but that may well
be down to personal taste, it was a lot cheaper though. The owners, though
busy, had time to chat and showed their obvious care for their project.
They hit every target they set themselves.
As I said; they were busy, with cyclists, hikers, residents, pre-booked and casual callers, but they set up a table for 6 casual callers quickly and with very little fuss. The menu doesn't really cater for those who want a quick burger in a bun so I was surprised at how many of the hiking/cycling fraternity were there, but everyone seemed more than satisfied with what was on offer.