King’s Head, Ravenstonedale
Nestled just behind the church in the picture postcard village of Ravenstonedale on the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and we admit a few miles into Cumbria, the King’s Head may seem like a workmanlike country boozer offering typical pub grub. There’s a drinkers’ bar complete with dart board, and a menu which doesn’t appear to frighten the horses. It was closed for three years until the present team took over last year and began transforming what’s on offer.
The dining room has had a makeover (as have the bedrooms upstairs), oak floorboards, tartan soft furnishings, soft grey/green walls with interesting art. Tables are set with placemats not linen, all delightfully unfussy. On a Saturday night it was pleasantly busy.
But it’s what’s coming out of the kitchen, delivered by chef Garry Fothergill and his team, that’s most exciting. They claim that everything which can be, is, home-made, so no corners cut here. Yes, there’s steak and chips (with divine, big hand cut home-made chips) but particularly on the starter menu there’s real talent and innovation. Scotch bantam egg delivered crispy hot scotch egg, the yolk meltingly soft, sprinkled with crispy shards of ham and home-made brown sauce. Beetroot and goats’ cheese cannelloni were tubes of sweet beetroot stuffed with salty goat’s cheese mousse, with dots of pine nut and balsamic reductions. Endearingly, the waitress felt the need to point out that the dish wasn’t actually pasta.
Mains include meltingly tender rump of lamb with perfect vegetables, Smoked Cumbrian farmhouse cheese and truffle macaroni. Wild mushroom and leek suet pudding, and sweet cured pork sirloin with black pudding bon bon, mustard mash and a poached duck egg.
Prices are fair and portions generous. Starters between £4 and £7.50 and mains around the £12 mark, apart from the steak, the most expensive dish on the menu at £17.50. The desert list is short but all home made with the likes of golden syrup crème brulee, lemon pannacotta and sticky toffee pudding with toffee crunch ice cream. The wine list is fairly priced but unexciting, beers good and service warm and friendly. Soups, salads, ploughmans and sandwiches are served during the day, alongside home-made scones and tea.