Thursday, 25 November 2010

Restaurant Review: The Malt Shovel Inn, Brearton

Name: Bleikers at The Malt Shovel Inn
Location: Brearton, North Yorkshire

It could be easy to miss Bleikers at The Malt Shovel Inn located in Brearton as you travel to nearby Harrogate, Ripley and Knaresborough. If you have though, you have missed a real treat. A 16th century country house and the only business in Brearton, this building has been catering for country ramblers for over four hundred years.

As soon as you enter you feel at home. Low ceilings adorned with oak beams, an open fire place and a segmented layout make it feel like you’re in a friend’s living room. A friend who has a thoughtfully stocked bar in the corner. The furnishings look as though they have been added to gradually over time, with nothing matching. This only adds to the charm. One particularly large cosy armchair caught my eye. It was a good job we had wandered in on a Sunday afternoon.

Be-fitting to the feel of the place was the gentle sound of Jazz Piano floating through the back conservatory and into the lounge. Yes, ‘Conservatory’ and ‘Lounge’. We are still talking about a pub/restaurant here, stay with me.

Upon being seated it was time for a drink. Like most Inns in the neighbouring area, the Malt Shovel stays true to local brewers. On the pumps today; Timothy Taylor Landlord from Keighley, Black Sheep Bitter from Masham and a delicious, uniquely nutty flavoured Rudgate Blonde from York. Sommelier D’Arcy also takes great interest in a broad range of wines, so they are never short of a selection.

Whether you were born into a family of game keepers or you are part of the new wave of do-it-yourselfers, you will love the Malt Shovel’s unique selling point. This is that they do everything themselves. Well, almost. The pork, lamb and chicken are from their own small holding. They grow the vegetables themselves. The bread is baked fresh every morning on their granary stone and the fish smoked in the kiln on site. Why would someone want that much control over every aspect of the food? Because they care. Just to clarify, that is caring about food, not just money. Many other Harrogate eateries should take note.

My current mission is to hunt out offal, so an opportunity to sample the devilled lamb’s kidneys was one not to be missed. My partner went for the cod and chips with homemade mushy peas. The mushy peas were lovely with a hint of lemon. My only real criticism would be that the chips were not the nicely thick cut, twice fried wholesome affairs that I was expecting from a place like this. On the contrary, my lamb’s kidneys were flawless. They melted in the mouth and were accompanied by a well seasoned devilled sauce that could compete pound for pound with that strong offal flavour. This was dished up with some of the fresh bread, which came in handy for soaking up the sauce at the end. It also saved me the embarrassment of having to lick my bowl clean.

Dessert was a shared Crème brûlée. When it arrived we were glad it was shared, as it was rather large in size. This was the richest, creamiest and most perfectly balanced Crème Brule that I have ever eaten. It was sublime. Double cream had been used with the freshest and richest of egg yolks to create the custard. This was so much more than the usual pallid, lightly creamed offerings that usually appear on menus.
We reclined to the music and washed down our food with another pint of Rudgate Blonde. As we did so we couldn’t help but think, we will be here again soon. So many establishments don’t seem to understand quite how to achieve returning custom. For the Malt Shovel Inn it is objective number one.

2 Courses for two without Drinks; £30-35 approx. 


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