It was quite an adventure visiting this wonderful pub cum restaurant which all added to making it a very memorable experience. Bad weather with heavy rain was forecast and we allowed ourselves extra time to get there setting off a little earlier than originally planned. The journey was going ‘swimmingly’ until we turned off the main road to make the final approach to Oldstead which is a little off the beaten track. It was then that we thought we might end up having to swim(!) as the roads were badly flooded with all the rain. At one point I really thought we wouldn’t be able to get through but someone, who evidently knew the road, drove passed, crossing onto the other side of the road which was higher and therefore not as deep with water. I followed gingerly wishing I had a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car that could float or grow wings to fly us out of there!
By this time I was thinking we’d definitely make the pub for lunch but we might be stranded there not being able to get back out again – I could think of worse places to be forced to stay longer than you had expected! However, that never came to pass and we lived to tell the tale …
I had a very dear partner in crime accompanying me for the tasting menu lunch that we had booked; we both love our food and are generally on the same wavelength when it comes to maximising the experience. I had spotted the deal on The Black Swan’s website and we both agreed what a good deal and so here we were with hungry tummies and eager anticipation. This was to be my fourth stage of my Yorkshire Michelin Star journey.
We finally arrived and dashed across the car park to avoid the worst of the wind and rain and on closing the pub door behind us, entered a serene, cosy and most welcoming sanctuary. We soon forgot about the weather and difficult journey and settled in for a few hours of delicious food and great hospitality.
We were seated in the bar area initially for a pre-lunch drink and to examine the menu. We were shortly invited to our table in a dining room that was tastefully furnished with wooden floors and wooden tables without table cloths. I found it nicely ‘unstuffy’ and less formal than previous Michelin star restaurants I had visited so far. I found it more relaxing which was nice. Other diners had braved the weather too adding to the joviality and atmosphere of the occasion.
The tasting menu had 6 courses; effectively 2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts.
As per the usual format, there was obligatory amuse bouche: a sublime butternut soup with goat’s cheese & tomato relish.
Then, the starters. First off was langoustine soup with some very good bread. I can’t say anymore than this soup was excellent.
And to follow was the ham hock terrine. The plate was very pretty to look at and the tartness of the piccalilli and blobs of cauliflower cream a great combination with the terrine.
What of the two mains then? The coley was a delight. I am not a fan of gnocchi when it comes in ‘boiled pasta format’. I was delighted that the gnocchi here had been roasted or baked so it was crispy and ever so nice. And the bed of leeks & salsify? I’m running out of superlatives!
With the season leading up to Christmas, this second main of pheasant was a take on of Christmas dinner. The pheasant was beautifully tender and delicate in flavour which surprised me somewhat; having never had pheasant before I expected it to be more ‘gamey’. The roasted potato had been intertwined with a very thin layer black pudding; they were exceedingly good!
And so onto the sweet stuff. The egg custard with the tonka bean really captured our curiosity, neither of us ever having had it before. The old addage ‘you certainly learn something new every day’ held true, thanks to the tonka bean – originating from South American and akin to vanilla, cinnamon, cloves & almonds (apparently!). It’s difficult to describe how amazing all the flavours were on this plate with the tonka bean coming through quite distinctively.
The second dessert was an interesting combination of chocolate, pineapple and rum & raisin:
Each and every dish was fantastic; there wasn’t one I didn’t like. They were all beautifully presented with excellent attention to detail. The pace at which the courses arrived was nicely timed; it was never rushed. The service friendly, knowledgeable and helpful throughout.
Notes were compared as to which of each course was our favourite: mine was the langoustine soup; the coley and then the egg custard. Said partner in crime was ham hock, pheasant and the egg custard.
The whole event was then nicely rounded off with coffee and petit fours: mini jammy dogders, pistachio friands (I think?!) and a couple of lovely dark chocolates.
Said partner & I both agreed what a lovely time we had had here. It had really topped the bill on my ‘star studded’ journey thus far.
The Black Swan
Tel: 01347 868387