[Pickering, Yorkshire] White Swan

The White Swan is a hotel and inn, right in the centre of town. So that meant it was very handy for dinner on the first night of a week’s break in the area – only a short walk from where we were staying. We’ve been to the area before and, indeed, been to the White Swan before. It’s reliably good food. Not the best you’ll ever come across but you’ll not be short of a nice dinner with a goodly number of dishes drawing attention to the food’s local provenance.

There was a chunky venison terrine to start. Richly flavoured with a good contrast coming from the sharpness of lightly pickled vegetables – carrot, cucumber, beetroot. There’s an unusual addition in the form of a slice of buttered maltloaf. Its sweetness brings another contrast. Good dish. And, for the other starter, there’s well made salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes, served with a lemon sauce. A frisee and brown shrimp salad works well alongside.

For mains, there was a dressed Whitby crab – perfect for an early autumn meal. There’s fries, a mixed salad and a little dish of mayo for dunking. The other plate was also relatively straightforward. Pork ribeye cooked precisely to medium so still moist and flavoursome. Celeriac remoulade brings a sharpness that cuts through the richness of the meat. New potatoes, very al dente tenderstem broccoli and a little thin gravy completes the plate.

Affogato is as simple a dessert as it gets. A scoop of vanilla ice cream and an espresso to pour over it. Cheese was good. Unlike many places. the kitchen obviously knows that it should be served at room temperature so you get the full flavour. There was a classic Wensleydale. Morangie – A Scottish Brie like cheese. And Yorkshire Blue – a cow’s milk cheese made just up the road at Thirsk. They come with a selection of crackers, grapes, celery and a perhaps overly sharp fruit chutney.

Service was of the “no hanging about” variety. Things happen quickly. But the staff are smiley and you don’t feel rushed. And so much better than one of those places where you wait for ages for everything.