[Harome, North Yorkshire] Pheasant

The Pheasant describes itself as a “country hotel” but the restaurant punches above that modest description. This was the sort of meal someone probably had in mind when the phrase “Modern British cooking” was first coined.

Perhaps surprising for a restaurant in rural Yorkshire, the amuse bouche was a take on Lancashire Hotpot. Very long cooked lamb, so it was almost a puree, incorporating chives and a fine dice of carrot, topped with crispy potato puffs. Really good - we are northwesterners so are picky about our hotpots.

For one of us, there was a risotto starter, using Whitby lobster, broad beans and Cheddar. Perfect consistency – quite wet as you’d generally find in Italy but rarely in the UK. That was followed by halibut – just cooked through and almost a tad translucent. I sympathise with whoever is in the kitchen who has to do the very fine chopping but there’s another fine dice, this time of potato and there’s some sprigs of tendersteam broccoli. Hollandaise sauce came, thoughtfully, in separate jug.

Across the table, butternut squash soup was perfect for early autumn. It’s enhanced with a swirl of cream and a sprinkle of pine nuts. For a pasta main course, the kitchen took good ingredients and did very little cheffing about with them. Perfectly al dente rigatoni, crab, sun dried tomato sauce, halved cherry tomatoes and smoked burrata. It’s the sort of dish you’d like to think that, on a good day, you could prepare in your own kitchen – but probably couldn’t.

As often the case, desserts weren’t as good as the savoury ones. Versions of “Death by Chocolate” can be an opportunity for the kitchen to prepare a rich and indulgent plate. This wasn’t. It was certainly OK though. Chocolate delice, ganache, a scattering of brownie crumbs and an indeterminate sorbet. The other plate was a take on Bakewell tart, topped with a baked apricot and sprinkled with almonds. A lemon thyme sorbet didn’t work as well as you might have hoped.

We finished with good espresso and petit fours - chocolate truffle nd a lemon & raspberry tart. Chocolate always works with coffee, lemon not so well.