Pinchinthorpe Hall, Pinchinthorpe, North Yorkshire -Restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 00:09 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:45 20 February 2013

Interior of the bistro

Interior of the bistro

WORDS BY SUE CAMPBELL<br/>'Pinchinthorpe Hall Cares' says the leaflet on the dining table. It starts off by saying that it cares about the environment. But where have we heard that before?

'Pinchinthorpe Hall Cares' says the leaflet on the dining table. It starts off by saying that it cares about the environment. But where have we heard that before? Don't all restaurants now say they care about the environment - reducing food miles, using locally produced meat, locally grown vegetables? But Pinchinthorpe has gone a whole lot further.

On its 150 acres it rears its own Dexter beef cattle, Swaledale sheep and Large Black pigs. And it has three types of chicken, producing free range eggs. In fact, all the animals are free range - having a great time, roaming the farmland, until they end up on your plate in the hall restaurant and bistro.

The Georgian Kitchen Garden at Pinchinthorpe, which is open to the public, also provides a constant source of fresh garden produce for the chefs. The hotel restaurant and bistro menus are designed around the seasonal produce available each week. This year, the choice of vegetables cultivated in the garden includes seven different varieties of lettuce, four varieties of dwarf French bean, four varieties of beetroot, 26 different herbs, numerous varieties of cabbages, squashes and pumpkins... I could go on, but the list is almost endless.

Head Chef Jenny Tombs, at 25, is probably one of the youngest female head chefs in the region, but she has been at Pinchinthorpe for eight years and loves being so involved in the production as well as preparation of the food. 'I talk regularly to the gardener and the herdsman and it's great to know where all your ingredients are coming from,' she said.

'We get to know the animals too and it's great that they have such a good life. I particularly like the pigs - they are such characters.' Pinchinthorpe also has its own brewery. The Pinchinthorpe Hall Organic Brewery trades under the name of North Yorkshire Brewing Co, the organic brewer. Cask and bottled beers are produced with the finest of ingredients including pure spring water that has supplied Pinchinthorpe Hall for centuries. It's a beautiful setting

Pinchinthorpe Hall dates back to the 12th century, but the present building was constructed in the 17th century, and beneath the gardens lie the remains of the very first manor built during the time of King William. In 1996 Pinchinthorpe Hall was purchased by the Tinsley family. The former dairy and coach house was then converted into a micro organic brewery and brewhouse bistro and the manor into a country house hotel and fine dining restaurant.

So, having established its credentials, how was lunch We ate in the bistro, looked after by the general manager, Johan Kirshner Waines, a South African a long way from home, but who enthuses about the atmosphere that the hall creates. 'It is a great place to work,' he said. 'It's individual, not corporate, and we are able to give people extactly what they want.'

The bistro was very comfortable, a real fire burning and a warm and cosy feel to the place. There is a 'Beat the Clock' menu - 10.95 for three courses, or two courses and a glass of wine or pint of ale.What a good idea. But you can also eat from the well-balanced a la carte menu. And the menu,s of course, change regularly. (Oh, and there's a lovely, and very reasonable menu for Valentine's weekend.)

I started with a twice baked blue cheese and chive souffl on honey and mustard dressed leaves from the a la carte - a lovely subtle souffl, although I left some of the very generous portion of salad leaves.

My lunch partner had a platter of very tasty home cured meats from the Beat the Clock menu - bressola, parma ham and pastrami, with a chutney which got an enthusiastic thumbs up, and another large portion of dressed leaves.

I always think a good rule of thumb when testing out a restaurant is to order at least one dish that's you believe is hard to get just right. In my case, it's calve's liver. I have had quite a few disappointing liver meals and overcooked liver is awful - grainy, chewy and tasteless. In my view, it's the mark of a good chef if it's right. And this was. Dexter calve's liver with mash, and smoked bacon and red wine jus - cooked just right, tasty jus, creamy mash. Could hardly ask for more.

My lunch partner ordered pan-seared lamb rump 'cooked pink', set on stewed puy lentils with a rosemary and redcurrent jus, from the a la carte. Although he cleared his plate of the lamb and thoroughly enjoyed his meal, he said the meat could have been even a bit pinker for him. We also had between us some excellent roast potatoes - crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle - with nicely done kale, parsnip and carrot.

And so to dessert. Another test for me is sticky toffee pudding. So I went for it. It was a triumph, wonderful toffee taste in a puddle of delicious butterscotch sauce and easily the best home made cinder toffee ice cream I have ever had. Fantastic. And my partner was also heartily pleased by his choice - a vanillary home-made rice pudding with raspberry sauce. Just the ticket for a wintry day.

I chased my meal down with a glass of very good, fresh, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, recommended by Johan, and my partner with a plummy Chilean Merlot, both from a comprehensive wine list. Oh, and he also had a half of Flying Herbert ale - pronounced excellent - from the Pinchinthorpe brewery.

A really lovely meal - at around a very reasonable 40 - in a lovely setting. Yes, it seems that Pinchinthorpe Hall really does care. Visit the garden in the grounds of Pinchinthorpe Hall and purchase fresh garden produce during week days between 9.30am and 4pm and from the hall's monthly Farmer's Markets.

Contact Pinchinthorpe Hall, Pinchinthorpe, Near Guisborough, TS14 8HG. Tel: 01287 630200.

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