Jeremy Clarkson might well still have his job if a Top Gear Plan A had worked.
No strangers to Yorebridge House, the motoring boys had stayed before but the hotel was full when the team tried to book in for the now famously ill-fated Yorkshire jaunt earlier this year.
You know, the one that went horribly wrong thanks to the ‘no hot food’ incident at a nearby hotel.
The provision of hot food would never be an issue here, you just know it.
The hotel, in Bainbridge, owned by Yarm ex-pats Dave Reilly and his interior designer wife, Charlotte, is getting as talked-about as Jeremy (OK, not quite); racking up the awards to an almost embarrassing extent these days. Accolades like the coveted 3 AA Rosettes at the AA Hospitality Awards, the only restaurant with rooms in Yorkshire to achieve this.
They are a finalist in the Taste of England category of the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2015 happening at Sage as we go to print. Most recently they’ve notched up an AA ‘Notable Wine List’ Certificate and are finalists in the AA Wine awards 2015-2016.
Heading up the kitchen is Dan Shotton who joined Yorebridge last year after working with Kenny Atkinson at Rockliffe Hall.
Using local ingredients from surrounding countryside, his menus are out to impress. But the whole set-up does that.
From the amuse bouche with a menu-perusing glass of Nyetimber to fresh-baked multi-variety bread and dreamy farmhouse butter, the devil is in the detail.
The Yorebridge three-course dinner menu is full of seasonality and name-checked foods that you want to see: Wensleydale lamb, white asparagus, morels, wild garlic and smoked eel.
There’s a neatness about the menu with some five choices on starter and main course, dishes that you can see being cooked in the open kitchen.
Each have interest from their main headliner and appealing side players.
Scallops, three chunky, glistening chaps, were sweet and silky with a smoky kick from little croquettes of smoked eel, a velvety sweep of butternut squash puree and a savoury kick from a skilful slab of salty pig’s head terrine.
Slow-cooked duck egg arrived as a wobbly wonder of a thing on top of a pretty-picture collection of punchy dandelion leaves and white asparagus. Very high on the ooze-o-meter with a luscious yolk which dribbled decadently over the salad.
My main course was a dish Dave says they wouldn’t dare remove from the menu, North Sea halibut (supplier, Hodgson’s) served with cauliflower, brown shrimp and leeks. Legend status achieved if dining reviews are anything to go by.
More than lip service paid to the shrimp; there’s a mountain of the lovely sweet shrimpy nuggets atop a fine piece of fish cooked with a skilled hand for the right softness of flesh. Leeks give a nice kick as do thin slivers of cauliflower.
Husband had the wild seabass; two fillets nicely presented with their plate mates of heady morels, green asparagus and sweet, juicy confit tomatoes. Sea and garden brought to life.
We drank wines by the glass which vary from the norm, which is interesting and fun.
And we delve into a cheeseboard which mixes the local with global, though I’m not keen on the too-snappy home-made crackers.
A dessert of creme brulee has a sharp and welcome kick of rhubarb and a spicy friend in the accompanying gingerbread ice-cream.
The sum of the parts in every dish is very good. There are delicate tastes but a gutsy look to plates of food that are proud of their Yorkshire roots.
At breakfast the same is true. Salmon and eggs is lovely and it’s charming to see that the ‘full Yorkshire’ is pretty much lock, stock and barrel from the village butcher and the farm a mile away.
Jeremy & Co, you missed a treat on every level.
Dinner, three courses, £55
Dinner B&B from £310