White Swan Inn, Pickering
We do admit a liking for the clean lines and minimal design of a modern bistro like Eric’s say. But hell, it’s still hard to beat the log fire, antique rugs, winged armchairs, a touch of brass and good claret out of a well polished glass. This is the deal at the White Swan, a traditional old coaching inn on Pickering’s Market Place, and it’s one that’s hard to beat.
Darren Clemmit is the chef, Victor and Marion Buchanan are the owners. Victor inherited the inn from his parents, who as well as running the hotel had a taste for fine wines. Victor’s mother, Deidre amassed a fine cellar, specialising in St Emilion, well before prices for claret skyrocketed in the late 90s.
Their list, says Victor, beats many a top London restaurant on both price and quality but he admits he couldn’t afford to stock a cellar of such class now. So when your lottery numbers come good, there’s a 1975 double magnum of Chateau Angelus waiting for you at £790. But not everything comes with such a scary price tag. The list starts at £25 and moves upwards with plenty by the glass around £6.50.
Food is all homemade. Whitby fishcakes, potted pork and black pudding Scotch quail’s egg, venison carpaccio are among some tasty starters. All their meat comes from Ginger Pig, who farm in the next valley at Levisham. Tim Wilson provides steak from his Longhorn cattle, and pork from the delightfully named breed of Plum Pudding Pig served with killer crackling. Puddings are classics: crumble, brulee, and sticky toffee. The cheeseboard is Yorkshire sourced. There’s fish on the menu, but veggies don’t get much of a look in apart from the oh so familiar omelette or risotto. The Buchanans have children of their own, so they’ll be nice to yours, and feed them with proper food too.