I always think that there’s something very civilised about partaking in Sunday lunch and today was no exception. The venue: The Gray Ox Inn. My company: official ‘partner in crime’ and a guest appearance by her better half.
From its elevated position there are fabulous views across the Yorkshire country side.
One doesn’t want to linger too long, however, admiring the view in the icy wind whipping through the car park. Pulling open the rustic entrance doors to the pub and leaving the wind outside, you are immediately welcomed and warmed by a wonderful, blazing fire; one of several throughout the pub. It’s very ‘oldy worldy’ inside and they have made a good job at maintaining its historical look and feel which dates back to 1709.
We ‘check in’ for our 12.30 table for three, with the waitresses standing to attention to welcome customers. We are offered a drink at the bar or to go straight to our table; we choose the latter eager to get to some food! We are seated in a cosy corner also warmed by a lovely fire.
We were presented with two loose leafed paper menus: a main menu and some specials. Together they offered a wide choice of options. It struck me as good to see that the menu was evidently designed ‘fresh’ each day.
The service was attentive and helpful from the start. Partner in crime suffered briefly from my regular affliction of inability to choose! A helpful suggestion from our waiter seemed to help and, with our orders placed, some bread arrived which not only came with butter but also the added extras of tomato salsa and some garlic & herb mayonnaise; something different and interesting.
I had chosen Yorkshire Blue tart with spinach and plum tomatoes for my starter. The plate was colourful and beautifully presented. The pastry was nice and crispy – no soggy bottoms here! – and the flavour of the blue cheese, spinach and tomatoes all worked very well together.
The other orders on the table for starters were venison meatballs and the soup: mushroom, artichoke and truffle. We were all very happy customers.
My main was seared monkfish on a clam & mussel chowder with mustard mash and kale.
Mains come with veg of the day which were very nice. Being the ‘rabbit’ that I am (and in danger of waking up one morning with long ears and a bushy tail as a result of my veg intake), the portion of veg wasn’t going to stretch very far so we asked for some more and they were happy to oblige.
The others ordered traditional roasts: roast beef & Yorkshire pud and roast pork loin with very crackly crackling and apple sauce still chunky with apples! No complaints from the pork corner of the table. There seemed to be a little disappointment in the beef corner where the potatoes could have been crisper.
I surprised myself a little on my dessert choice. I tend to be more of a cake or tart chooser but nothing else on the menu excited me except for the trifle. The combination of passion fruit, mango and coconut cream trifle seemed to fit the bill for me. And it turned out to a real cracker, unusually presented too.
The tuile biscuit was light and crispy and the tropical flavours of the trifle were great.
The others both ordered sticky toffee pudding. No scraps were left anywhere; the clean plates at the end were testament to the satisfaction around the table.
Coffee accompanied desserts and little fudge-like chocolate morsels as petit fours.
The pub had filled up by the time we rose from the table. Despite this, I thought the busyness of the place hadn’t affected the level of service and had made for a nice ‘bustling’ environment without being overly noisy or unpleasant. I think this would be my fifth visit to this great pub over the years and would have no hesitation recommending it and returning again myself.
The Gray Ox Inn
15 Hartshead Lane