It’s simple – a pretty, whitewashed, country pub. But step inside and it’s a different story. A charming, antique-filled space with olde worlde chandeliers hanging from the walls and mismatched furniture making up the dining area. Shabby chic springs to mind, but not the on-trend shabby chic we see in city dwellings – it’s different, it’s unique. There’s no real sense of ‘interior design’ here, it’s a collective combination of bits and pieces – and there’s definitely an art to it. Not everyone can pull off throwing pieces together like this, but with Eugene McCoy behind the scenes, it just works.
Eugene and Barbra McCoy once managed something of a restaurant empire, with an ever-popular portfolio of restaurants popping up across the North East. The brains behind the Cleveland Tontine in its heyday for some 40 years, the duo have established something of a respectful reputation among the region’s fine diners – and beyond. Now, their home is The Crathorne Arms – in its fifth year. And with their natural charm and hospitality expertise, it has quickly become an exciting part of the North East dining scene. The Crathorne Arms’ cosy, country-chic charm makes for a destination venue and the perfect host for family functions in the brilliantly quaint private dining room. Whether it’s a Tuesday evening, a Thursday lunchtime or a Saturday night, this place is always packed out, so booking is key. Saying that, the smiley staff will always do their best to squeeze you in somewhere.
It’s all in the detail here. Festooned with antique furnishings, odd tables and chairs, comfy sofas and fresh flowers, it’s so effortlessly quaint. It follows no signature style or interior design trend as such, but that’s what we love about it. It’s casually eccentric, laid back and doesn’t take itself too seriously – breezily thrown together with a combination of vintage lamps, historical village photographs, oriental parasols and unusual ornaments that ‘just work’. From the makeshift salt and pepper-filled shot glasses on the tables, to the vintage tea pots hung higgledy-piggledy in the restaurant, we love everything odd about this place, oozing a quaint quality like no other.
Like any good village pub, it’s home to a selection of real ales, satisfying both the local beer drinkers and those who have travelled far and wide. And like any destination restaurant, its wine offering includes everything you might expect and more. There’s also a well stocked spirits cabinet with flavours and mixers aplenty.
Hearty pub meals alongside longstanding specials including the beloved ‘McCoy’s Seafood Pancake’, make up the colourful, country-rich menu. Daily specials are served every night, along with an early bird menu and a casual bar offering. The food goes above and beyond here. It’s locally sourced and it’s swapped and changed with the customers in mind. You’ll always find the classics such as sirloin steak, whole sea bass, and The Crathorne Arms burger, alongside wholesome, season-depending dishes that come and go – such as the shepherd’s pie, the chicken kiev, duck breast and chicken and chorizo wellington, to name but a few.
What we ate
A heart-warming, village pub calls for a hearty dinner. The starters went like this; a mound of cheesy heaven and a celebration of the country-inn classic that is scotch egg. Winter dieting aside (although there were many healthier options on the menu), with my weekend head on, I just couldn’t resist the twice baked spinach and cheese souffle (£7.95). A light and fluffy bake, wonderfully complimented by a rich, creamy sauce, scooped up with warm, crusty bread. My dinner date opted for the chicken and chorizo scotch egg (£6.95). With that perfect yolk-popping moment, it came bound by a crisp coating packed with hints of spicy chicken and chorizo.
The quality of food in a restaurant can quite often be defined by its ability to serve up a decent steak. And unsurprisingly, The Crathorne Arms got it spot on. My companion went for the chargrilled grand reserve 100z sirloin steak with stuffed crusted tomatoes and homemade chips (£22). Cooked to perfection, it’s safe to say the meat here is first class. I went for the chicken kiev (£11.95), served with homemade chips and salad. A foodie favourite when it comes to pub dining. The dish looked the part on arrival, smothered in a mild garlic butter and topped with fresh parsley. Coated in breadcrumbs, the large chicken breast was full of flavour and made for a fine and filling Friday night dish.
We didn’t manage dessert on this occasion, but a glass of the landlord’s recommended red wine was the perfect night cap before our cab was called. We left feeling full of food and laughter as Eugene and his team, once again, hosted the perfect evening in an honest and heart-warmingly eccentric venue that we can all call home.