Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pipe and Glass Inn

Sun 14 Dec 2008

Back in July I'd tried to take Andy to South Dalton's Pipe and Glass Inn and had been turned down because the pub was playing host to a wedding. The nerve.

I'd subsequently spent some time looking around for nearby accommodation but it finally dawned on me that I'd have to drive or we'd never go. I was horrified when it was mentioned recently on Saturday Kitchen. I thought we now had not a hope in hell of securing a table.

Of course, things are never quite that bad and, by Friday lunch time, a table was booked for a late Sunday lunch and the car hire was in place. We took a scenic route from Leeds (not the M62) and, after somewhat disconcertingly driving through a park, we arrived in the village. My tip - if you're not using sat nav, make sure you take the route involving the B1248!

Pipe & Glass Inn

The village is truly tiny: the pub and a handful of houses. The pub's car park is a significant part of the layout. The pub itself is a typical, gorgeous country pub. With winter and Christmas now upon us, the pub was even more pretty. And this was certainly true inside, where the Christmas decorations were stylish, the fire was blazing and the leather sofas fat and welcoming.

As it was 2pm we were quite peckish, so we chomped away on some olives while inspecting the menu and specials. It was all proper winter food and our choices were predictably seasonal. I started with spiced potted Gloucester Old Spot piggy, with a crackling and quince salad, followed by cider braised pheasant, with baked apple, thyme mash and black pudding and chestnut stuffing. Andy began with rabbit rissoles and finished with the most enormous plate of roast goose imaginable.

I was driving - so alcohol was limited to a couple of pints for Andy while I had an orange juice and water. I didn't even look at the wine list although there was a selection of reasonably priced Champagnes available by the glass.

The pub indulges in the weird (to me, at least!) practice of letting you sit in the lounge more or less right up until the moment your starter is ready. Once seated, we took our slices of bread and were presented with our starters. The first indication of how relaxed (a little too relaxed) service was came as Andy's neatly piled rabbit rissoles went tumbling around the plate as it was placed in front of him. Although both starters seemed quite small portions, no doubt enhaced by how famished we were after the drive, the food was delicious. I definitely thought I had won: my coarsely chopped pork was presented in a tiny pot, with matching spoon and was perfectly spiced and seasoned. The word 'spice' instantly conjures up all sorts of ideas of chilli, heat and exotic flavours from the far east - but this was spiced with sage, capers and pepper and was delicious. My crackling salad was generous with the crackling but, while I enjoyed the candied quince very much, I felt the salad had been dressed with just a little too much of the syrup. Andy's only complaint about his rissoles was of a similar nature.

In fact, this was something of a theme throughout the meal - well balanced flavours and perfectly cooked meats rather drowned in sauce.

Our main courses were both very generous portions, Andy's ridiculously so! He had a massive plate, with sliced roast goose breast piled high on creamed cabbage, accompanied by a very festive redcurrant sauce, with potato and deep fried haggis (and yes, that is as delicious as it sounds!). My pheasant (with just one piece of shot) was as described: the baked apple was gorgeously soft and sweet, the stuffing and the mash did a valiant job of mopping up the excessive sauce, and the meat itself was lovely. Our mains were accompanied by three dishes of vegetables: roast potatoes, braised red cabbage and a mix of broccoli and courgette.

The menu was the height of seasonal eating and our food was ideal for a cold, winter's afternoon.

After finishing all of that (Andy did a far better job of clearing his plate than me) we weren't technically hungry but, faced with the dessert menu, we found ourselves sharing cinder toffee icecream with chocolate honeycomb with a pot of coffee. The icecream was served gorgeously soft and the coffee was really, really good.

The bill came to just under £70, which means we rated the experience as pretty good value. Our only complaint with the food was the excessive saucing. Now, a large part of that is personal preference - and we did notice that some dishes were coming out with sauce boats. Maybe this should be extended to more dishes. I know it's hard with something like pheasant, in particular. The meat tends to dry and you want to make sure the diner has plenty of gravy. However, my gravy was so rich (helped in no small part by the cider) that I would have preferred a degree of control.

The service at the Pipe and Glass was good: friendly and efficient, but a bit too casual for the overall ambience. The chef built the little tower of rissoles presumably for them to stay that way, I don't like people unnecessarily leaning across me to collect my bread plate, and there's no need to collect so many plates at once that you create a racket by having the glass jar from the potted pork skittle across a plate.

That's only two small grumbles - both of which could be fixed easily. At the end of the day, the food is good and the restaurant is spacious, well laid out and has a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. It is also worth mentioning that it's very child friendly, and that you might find yourself feeling slightly under-dressed in your jeans!

1. The Pipe and Glass Inn, West End, South Dalton, Beverley, East Yorkshire, HU17 7PN, phone: 01430 810246, map.
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