Hare Inn, Scawton
Paul and Liz Jackson moved to this pretty country pub in 2013 after successfully running the Crown at Great Ouseburn. It’s on a quiet back road not far from Rievaulx Abbey but this is not your usual rural walkers’ pub. Forget about having a pie or a ploughman’s; instead there’s a choice of three tasting menus at £60, £45 and £30.
Regular readers of Squidbeak will know that we are not unreserved fans of tasting menus – too many tiny courses, too many ill-assembled ingredients – too much Masterchef. But we were bowled over by Paul Jackson’s cooking. Yes, courses were small, dishes complex, but they are also well constructed and skilfully cooked. Imagine venison partnered with beetroot, blueberries, goat’s cheese and walnuts; raw, chopped Dexter beef with watercress, macadamia nuts, smoked oil and grated bone marrow. This was an inspired combination and given raw beef would never be my first choice on a menu, it turned out to be my favourite. I’d even nominate it as my ‘dish of the year’. A dessert of buttermilk mousse with strawberry, green tea and lemon grass also impressed.
It’s a risky and uncompromising approach for a country pub off the beaten track; I’m fascinated to see if it has the happy ending it deserves.