Durham Ox, Crayke
As sturdy as it sounds, the Ox is a much loved fixture in the pretty hilltop village of Crayke, 16 miles north of York. Whitewashed outside, inside it gives you the full deal expected from an English country inn: wonky walls, old beams, brass candlesticks, polished oak, log fires, good food and real ale.
The family-oriented clientele have long travelled from miles around for the scoff. The menu runs from sandwiches of brie and red onion or smoked salmon and prawns to more substantial standards like steak frites or duck confit. Specials, chalked up daily, are typified by black bream with ginger and lemon grass or roast monkfish. And lovely homely puds, all shot through with plenty of local produce. Sunday lunch with sides of beef and all the trimmings is a big deal for families so it’s best to book. House wine starts at £14.95 and runs to 23 by the glass.
The Ox has a collection of smart bedrooms and suites behind the main pub and upstairs is a gorgeous private dining room and sitting room for pre-drinks.
The man behind this appealing inn is Michael Ibbotson who ran the Ox for over 12 years before joining Chris Blundell a former Morrison’s boss to create Provenance Inns, that include the Carpenters Arms, the Punch Bowl, Oak Tree the once iconic Black Bull at Moulton. For his services to the industry Ibbotson was named by the Publican, 2011 Publican of the Year. Since then Michael has left Provenance Inns to concentrate on the Durham Ox which remains as good as ever.