[Pickering, North Yorkshire] Willowgate Bistro

With times still being very tough for the hospitality industry in many parts of the country, it was good to see the Willowgate full on a Friday night. It offers a well priced set menu (£36 for two courses, £42 for three) , with four choices at each course. In fact there’s three menus – the main one for omnivores, another for vegetarians and a third for folk needing gluten free. With them all priced the same, the profit margin on the veggie one must have them hoping they get lots of vegetarians at every service.

You can, of course, mix and match, so my companion’s starter came from the veggie menu whilst the main course came from the omnivore version. So, that was a tasty tomato risotto – sun dried and cherry tomatoes. In comparison with the fairly wet ones you get in Italy, this was quite dry –no doubt so the chef could press it into one of those metal cooking rings, so it sits on your plate like a hockey puck. A balsamic drizzle round the edge set it all off. That was followed by sirloin steak, accurately cooked as requested. Classic accompaniments of tomato, mushroom and chips, with an equally classic peppercorn sauce.

I went with a twice baked soufflé which was OK but really needed more oomph from a more mature cheese. No issues with my duck main course. Breast cooked to “pink”. Spuds – a really well made dauphinoise. Red cabbage and some mixed greens ( sugar snaps, kale and broccoli), Good sauce as well.

I finished with cheese. Yorkshire Blue and a Wensleydale with cranberries. There’s crackers, grapes, slices of apple and a nicely tangy chutney. My companion’s Eton mess was whipped cream, not overly sweet fruit compote, topped with meringue. It worked.

It was a nice evening to finish off a week’s stay in the area.


Pickering is so picturesque. Glad I saw it before the plague.

Did you get to the castle? Magnificient views from up there


My mind is blanking. We had a day trip with a driver to Pickering and Whitby from York, in Nov 2016. I can’t remember the Castle. I mostly remember the tea room and the main shopping street.

There’s pretty good food shopping along the Market Place. For even a large village it’s surprising to see they still have a butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer and at least two good bakers. Not least as they have a small Co-op supermarket and fairly recently opened Lidl