I’ve noticed lately that I refer to “local pubs” a lot in my general posts, such as pregnancy diary updates and whatnot, but I very rarely actually mention what pubs they are, what we’ve eaten or actually review them. This seems a bit silly considering that I’m running a series of Disney dining reviews, plus restaurant reviews in New York state, but I very rarely review restaurants closer to home that I really should be supporting! So I decided to change that when, a couple of weekends ago, Ben was part of arranging a surprise meal out for us locally.
My work BFF Sarah and I have been trying to sort ourselves out with another date, since we haven’t had one since our Harry Potter Escape Room outing, but hadn’t got round to it. Instead, the boys – Beeley, who also works at Bronco (for now at the time of writing, but not much longer – he’s leaving!) and Ben – decided they’d be proactive and arrange something together as a surprise for us. In the end, it wasn’t all that much of a surprise for me as Ben checked that I hadn’t organised anything for that evening a week or so in advance, then I finally begged him to tell me at least where we were going, then I figured out who with later on. Sarah, on the other hand, had the surprise of her life after a hard day when she walked into the pub to find us stood at the bar!
Minskip is a village not far from Harrogate that’s more well known for its farm shop – and is also the place we’d picked up a nursing chair from earlier that day! It’s not somewhere we drive through regularly, but on the way to my work Christmas party, we’d gone through the village and spotted this pub – the Wild Swan – all lit up with festoon lighting and looking very inviting. That evening, we asked around to see if anyone had been, and heard some good reviews of it, so decided it would be worth a visit in our near future with Sarah and Beeley – hence how I figured out it was them we were going with once I knew the location of our evening out!
The Wild Swan at Minskip has recently reopened after being closed for some time and has had some renovations made. I can’t compare it to then as we hadn’t been there before, but it was immediately obvious that it had recently been done up due to the excellent condition of everything, plus the modern but country inspired interior aesthetic that was cosy and inviting. It describes itself as a “proper Yorkshire pub” and dates back to 1832. I can’t say I fully agree with the proper Yorkshire pub tagline as I was brought up around honestly proper Yorkshire pubs on the moors – one day, I’ll review one of these! – but it does have a quintessentially small pub feel with a traditional Tap Room bar with an open fire in addition to a more polished restaurant which has a window hatch open to the kitchen so you can see the chefs in action.
The menu appears to be very seasonal with small local suppliers and high quality Yorkshire produce, which is something I always like to see in a good eatery, plus they have a selection of guest ales that seem to be changed up regularly, keeping everything fresh and exciting for return visits.
We grabbed a drink in the bar before heading through to the restaurant where we were seated at a comfortable table. While we made our decisions, we were served with fresh homemade foccaccia and butter which was very tasty.
After a bit of debate, we decided we would go for starters as they just looked SO good on the menu. I was torn between several options, including a roasted tomato soup (mostly because it came with promises of basil crisps!) and a black pudding scotch egg, but chose the mushrooms on toast in the end, while Ben had the scotch egg.
My mushrooms were served on what’s described on the menu as crisp bruschetta, with a drizzle of truffle oil and a generous handful of salad leaves. The mushrooms themselves were very tasty – just enough garlic to flavour them without being overpowering, and creamy without disguising the mushroom flavour. The only slight criticism I’d give is that the scent of the truffle oil is quite strong and you could smell it immediately as soon as they arrived – in fact, you could smell it as soon as we walked into the restaurant – so if you’re not a big fan of truffles, it might be a little much.
Ben’s black pudding scotch egg was SO good – yes, of course I had to try it! The exterior was light and fried to a perfect golden brown crisp, and a delicate black pudding encased a perfectly cooked soft egg yolk within. This was served with a wonderful thick tomato relish that Ben hasn’t actually stopped talking about yet as he wants to know how they made it so sweet and well-balanced!
For my main course, I thought I was going a bit “boring” by choosing the chicken breast – this is always a “safe” options on menus for me, I find, but this one sounded very good so I decided to go for it. The chicken breast was served on the bone, meaning it remained juicy and tender – it was full of flavour. The meat was dished up on top of a layer of kale and a celeriac rosti, with a rich wild mushroom gravy drizzled on and around it, and the bottom of the dish was dotted with tiny, creamy balls of goats cheese. This was an excellent dish and one I’d be very happy to have again. The celeriac rosti was deliciously sweet alongside the rich and very savoury mushroom jus, and the kale added some lightness to the plate.
I actually swapped out the potatoes that were supposed to be served with this for chips, and what arrived wasn’t the normal plate of chips – these were fancy ones with parmesan, parsley and truffle oil! I’ve had this style of chips before and enjoyed them, but I do find they’re very rich so you definitely need a smaller portion – I couldn’t finish them all alongside my main course.
Ben also, surprisingly, chose a “boring” option – although I’m starting to suspect there are no boring options at this pub! He went with the Proper Steak Burger, which was served in a brioche bun with crispy pancetta, cheese (I believe raclette cheese, looking at the menu online), an aioli, tomato relish and skinny fries. This was, again, very tasty, although I only tried a small piece. He seemed to enjoy it a lot, although both he and Sarah, who ordered the same thing, struggled to pick it up and eat it since it was a very generously packed burger!
Overall, this was an excellent local meal. I’d say the pricing is definitely more on the expensive side for a local pub that has a tagline of a proper Yorkshire pub, however that’s to be expected as you head closer to Harrogate which is known for being more expensive. The high quality of the menu and the food served also made it entirely worth its price. I’d class it more as a gastro-pub, at least in the restaurant, than a proper pub though. We also found the service to be very friendly and welcoming – our waiter was immediately comfortable with chatting to us which makes a big difference. I’m excited to go back and try something else there in future now!