Meandering down the leafy lanes north of Beverley to The Pipe and Glass Inn, my mouth was already watering, thinking of the culinary delights that could be on offer at East Yorkshire’s first Michelin star establishment.
(The fact that we had received an unexpected invitation just the day before to join my sister and family to help celebrate my brother-in-law’s rather special birthday, and Erik and myself hadn’t eaten at The Pipe and Glass Inn since it had been awarded it’s Michelin star made it doubly exciting.)
Anticipation mounted as we drove past the farms,the pond, the houses and cottages of South Dalton, and then suddenly there it stood at the end of the lane, spread out as if welcoming us with open arms. Dating from the 15th century, this low, cream-coloured cottage of a building twinkled with old windows, and had a porch so friendly that it almost purred out ‘Welcome’, beckoning to all who came along that ancient lane.
The Pipe and Glass Inn is set in a tiny hamlet of white cottages and lovely old houses, watched over by a church with a spire so fine and tall that it thrusts through the forests of oak and beech trees to signal to you for miles that ‘Here is South Dalton’. Imagine the perfect picture of an old English hostelry, and that is what The Pipe and Glass Inn looks like.
Through the entrance, the main bar to the right glowed with gleaming polished wood, friendly locals and visitors who were enjoying the fabulous bar food. But we were eating in the main restaurant, so we were directed by smiling, friendly staff to the bar on the left, full of squashy sofas, leather chairs, and dark wooden settles either side of a fireplace fitted with a log burner.
My eyes instantly flashed to the huge ‘Specials’ blackboard – what wondrous delights were on offer today? Chef James Mackenzie is known for seriously championing seasonal and local food, so the ‘Specials’ boards change from day to day. So many wonderful dishes to choose from, and my eyes kept flitting up and down, down and up. Pre-lunch drinks were ordered and delivered, most choosing gin and tonics, and I sampled a delicious glass of my favourite lunchtime tipple, Prosecco. It was a perfect choice, a fresh, gently sparkling glass of Prosecco NV Bosca di Gica, Adami, with more depth than most Prosecco’s – certainly one to remember.
What a difficult but enjoyable task it is to choose from such a great selection of dishes. From the official menu, mouthwatering dishes screamed out to be chosen. You feel that ‘I want that one – no, hang on a minute, what about this one? No, I fancy that.’ Amongst the many starters were: Salmon three ways, Tartare, Cold Oak Smoked and Roast Gravadlax with Pickled Cucumber and Fennel Seed Grissini – Game and Chestnut Terrine with preserved Quince, Mulled Wine jelly and a Shot of Game Tea – Marinaded ‘Yellison’; Goat’s cheese, Beetroot and Watercress salad with Elderberry Syrup and Walnuts. The Specials board was equally so full of quality choices that making a decision was getting more difficult by the minute. But decisions had to be made! And we made them.
Obviously the menu changes with the seasons, so click here for the current dishes on offer.
We didn’t have to wait long before we were escorted through to the middle part of the dining room, past the solid but stylish dining tables of different shapes and sizes, some tucked into more discreet (or romantic) corners. The ‘Vibe’ or atmosphere is friendly, stylish and relaxing. (There is also an wonderful conservatory dining area, complete with a huge long table with matching long settles that can seat 28 for a very special occasion). The sun gently poured through all the windows, filling every corner with a lovely diffused glow as we sat down around the table.
Our choices were varied. Erik started with the Crispy Fried Rabbit Rissoles, Cockle and Caper vinaigrette, Sorrel and Air Dried Ham, which he declared ‘a suprising but intense flavour, lightly gamey’, the inside being ‘so soft and almost delicate’ finished off with the ‘most stunning’ vinaigrette flavoured with the cockles and capers.
From the ‘Starters’ board, I chose the Half Shell Scallop and Leek Mornay with Nasturtium and Herb Salad. The mixture of melt-in-the-mouth scallops, tender leeks and rich cheesy sauce were presented in delicate, small half-shells, and were complemented by a Herb Salad in a little glass jar, topped off with edible Nasturtiums. I savoured each mouthful, the scallops perfectly cooked, topped with the melted richness of the sauce and did not want the end to come. The crispness and the different flavours of the herbs (was there Chervil and Lovage in there?) contrasted so well with the softness of the main ingredients. It was heaven, not just for the taste, but on the eye as well. I’ve often thought that scallops should be just left alone to speak for themselves, just cooked simply with interesting flavours to dabble into around them, but this is the one exception – scallops and a cheese (or Mornay) sauce are, indeed, heaven.
Other first courses were the quite substantial Little Jar of ‘Gloucester Old Spot’ Potted Pork, Sticky Apple and Crackling Salad, Warm Spelt Toast, which my niece couldn’t stop praising as ‘so full of sweet, rich tastes’ and ‘the contrast of the soft Pork with the crispy crunch of the crackling’. She added that ‘the sweetness of the apple topped it all off’ and we all loved the presentation.
My sister and her ‘Birthday Boy’ both had the Dressed Hornsea Crab with a Cucumber and Radish Salad, Apple and Dill dressing and brown Crab Sticks. This last dish looked so appealing as it was set down on the table with the small creamy-white flakes of the crab and the colourful salad of cucumber and radish (which I believe are a godsend to add colour to a dish) and the words and phrases used in between mouthfuls were ‘the white crab is so light and fresh’, ‘who’d have thought crab sticks could taste so good’ and ‘it tastes of the sea’, plus a special mention for ‘the sweet but tangy flavour of the apple and dill dressing’.
So far so good. Could the Main courses live up to the First courses?
Erik’s choice was the Venison and Juniper Suet Pudding with Butter Braised Chantanay Carrots and Celery, Crispy Smoked Bacon and ‘Clapshot’. In his own words, Erik declared that ‘this dish should only be tackled by those of brave and hearty appetites’ which he, himself, must have had as he ate every scrap. The Clapshot was declared ‘so smooth and comforting’ then added that the Suet Pudding had ‘the most stunning depth of flavour’.
Halibut, landed in Hartlepool, was the main course choice of both my sister and my niece.I had better give it the correct title as chalked on the ‘Specials’ board – “Fillet of Wild Halibut with Curly Kale, Cobnuts and Crayfish”. The Halibut fillet took over half the plate, and according to my sister was ‘was so full of fresh, flaky cream fish’ and ‘a pleasure to eat’. Her daughter, (a forager in her spare time) added that the addition of the Cobnuts (which are wild Hazelnuts) gave the dish an unusual but brilliant twist to the dish. (Sadly no picture of the Halibut,but an alternative fish dish, equally superb.)
My choice, and brother-in-law’s, was the Fillet of English Beef with Bone Marrow Fritter, Pickled Red Onion and Bulls Blood Leaf Salad, Beer Mustard Sauce and Hand Cut Chips. He asked for Medium, I asked for Medium Rare, and we both received our fillet cooked to perfection. It was melt in the mouth fillet – brilliant. The little Bone Marrow Fritter was so tasty, soft inside and crispy on the outside as it virtually melted on the tongue. Golden crispy hand-cut chips looked almost too good to eat, but we ate them with relish, and we were not disappointed. The Leaf Salad added a lightness of touch, and the Beer Mustard sauce finished the dish off so perfectly that both he and I agreed it was exceptional.
The dessert menu was handed round, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I realised that the desserts on offer were on a scale from the lightest puff of air such as the Lemon and Verbena Possett with Blackcurrant and Lavender Compote and Elderflower Shortbread to the more substantial (for those still left with plenty of room) as in Sticky Toffee Pudding with Stout Ice Cream and Walnut Brittle. Nowadays I don’t always make it through to the Desserts, but I was determined to not waste the chance to try a Michelin star Dessert at The Pipe and Glass.
(Alright, I confess. Guess which reviewer never bought her camera. I didn’t want to spoil the occasion. But all the dishes were a feast for the eyes, as well as the tastebuds, and I just had to include this picture of the Trio of Apples dessert. It consists of Apple and Bramble Crumble, Sticky Apple Sponge and Apple Sorbet. I hope this dessert is on at the time of my next visit.)
Back to the meal. The choice of both my sister and myself was the Cinder Toffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Honeycomb Bites, and to say it was delicious was an understatement. Light as a feather, creamy vanilla ice cream with cinder toffee crispy-crumbs sprinkled on the top, finished off with bite-sized pieces of home-made cinder toffee covered in dark chocolate so rich, chocolatey and crunchy that you had to discreetly lick your fingers afterwards.
Sticky Toffee Pudding with Stout Ice Cream and Walnut Brittle was chosen by Birthday Boy, and came complete with a lighted candle, a lovely touch. He described his Dessert as ‘rich and really sticky, just like it should be’ and he was surprised ‘how brilliantly’ the Stout Ice Cream matched the pudding. After crunching his way through the Walnut Brittle, he declared that although he had been to The Pipe and Glass a few times, ‘this certainly was the best meal ‘.
After a coffee, we met James Mackenzie, fresh from his kitchen, and he offered to give us a sneak preview of his brand new ‘Private Dining Room’. Up the old staircase we went, passed walls bumpy and meandering with age, to be totally surprised when James opened the door to be met with a stunning, sophisticated Dining Room, complete with a substantial dining table and chairs for 10-12 diners, a suberb black, leather-panelled wall tucked around a wide-screen TV (for diners to screen their own wedding DVDs or similar) plus the use of their own ‘en-suite’ kitchen complete with a Chef and assistants for the night.
Next to the Dining Room was a Lounge area, complete with squashy chairs and small tables, a great room for diners to relax and enjoy their pre-dinner Aperitifs whilst surrounded by library shelves stocked full of (of course) beautiful cookbooks. (No doubt, James’ brilliant new cookbook, ‘On The Menu’, will be given pride of place.)
After a quick peak at the luxiouriously appointed guest suites, complete with their own private terraces overlooking the lush parkland, we had to bid farewell to James and his team at The Pipe and Glass, and thanked them for a wonderful experience. The beautiful, ancient building coupled with the idyllic rural setting is almost like something from a fairy-tale. The sheer quality and artistry of the cuisine, combined with dishes so full of incredible tastes that just make you smile, was something else – Michelin star (with a friendly smile) obviously springs to mind.
Two more pieces of exciting news at The Pipe and Glass Inn recently:
The Award, from The Michelin Guide, of ‘The Pub of The Year’
‘On The Menu’ – the first cookbook by James Mackenzie, is to be published within a week or so (and I have had a sneak preview – it’s stunning!)