Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel - North Yorkshire

Dipping in to the North York Moors and close to Scarborough you will find Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. A grand old (former) farmhouse now converted in to a hotel using it's back-houses and barns to a AA 4 star standard. The main house now contains The Courtyard restaurant which presents fine dining and gastro pub experiences, something for everybody.

I was lucky enough to be invited to review the hotel (bear with me I've only done one before) and the afternoon tea (more than experienced), dinner (even more experienced) and breakfast (more than happy to lend a hand).
Check in at 2pm we managed to roll up exactly on time despite the frustrations of road closures due to Leeds fest and only one minor error from the sat nav taking us down the wrong lane. The journey into the national park drove us down country lanes and past vast forest land. We pulled up smiling.

We were quickly attended to upon arrival, following us were two other couples and their (welcome) dogs. The concierge was called who showed us to our luxury room... as I noticed on the signing in form we were to be placed in the honeymoon room. Oh la la.

The room was substantial in size, I think I've lived in smaller, with a separate bedroom and living area. The views from the bedroom and living room over looked neighbouring fields and the vast gardens of the hotel. Upon arrival there was cool water (still and sparkling) awaiting us along with freshly cut flowers. The room was nicely decorated with modern furniture and furnishings feeling clean and airy.

Flipping through the booklet left on the writing table there seemed to be everything you could possibly think of available, from shoe shinning, to extra bottles of water, to wake up calls, to room service to secretarial services!

The only thing that wasn't available in our room was wifi. This was detailed in the booklet as available and to ask at reception for the code (why? all other rooms I've stayed in have given this to you upon arrival), we asked, got back to our room and found that our room was too far from the main building to receive any signal at all. With no mobile signal I was without contact to the outside world. It was rather nice actually, however I suspect should someone else need it for business reasons etc it would be rather inconvenient.

The room came with an en-suite. Again modernly decorated with some impressive taps and rain shower shower-head. I took full advantage of the large bath and had a bubble bath shortly before dinner.

An hour after checking in we had afternoon tea booked. Making our way to reception we offered the choice of a room just behind reception or a room overlooking the hotel bar for our tea. We chose the room furthest away from reception to avoid distraction and settled on to the big leather couches.

Afternoon tea was served on a cake stand with accompanying teapot filled with Yorkshire tea.

Upon the top were two warm small scones with cream and jam, mine was a little stale and hard perhaps over baked, or warmed up rather than freshly baked? The finger sandwiches consisted of cucumber and cream cheese, ham and wholegrain mustard and cheese and chutney. I would have preferred all to be served on wholemeal bread but that is personal preference. The desserts I'm going to have to hazard a guess as these weren't explained to us. There was a very rich and dense chocolate brownie containing a range of nuts, a little too sweet for me but D I think swallowed it whole; a large round piece of crumbly short bread; lemon cheesecake, a shortcake pistachio stack, and a swirl of chocolate.

Afternoon tea is £15 per person.

Here's a closer look...

We were incredibly full following afternoon tea and decided to book dinner a little later to accommodate this and go on a short walk to explore the local area.

With help from the lady on reception we found some woods and a pretty pleasant walk (if you ignore the rain shower).

A nice sneak peak lies on the doorstop of the hotel as to what the rest of the North Yorkshire Moors has to offer.

On our way back to our room we decided to have a quick look around the gardens of the hotel. Although apparently not quite finished in parts and some of the garden yet to be fully established it's clear that a lot of effort has been put in to the property to making this a small haven for guests. Had the weather been nicer afternoon tea, breakfast or a couple of glasses of wine out in the gardens would have been idyllic.

We had a couple of hours to relax after our afternoon tea and subsequent walk, where I (as previously noted) took full advantage of the large tub in the room by filling it full of bubbles and taking my time to pamper myself ready for dinner.

The restaurant is situated in the main house just next to reception, we were seated next to a couple of bay windows over looking the front garden. A pretty romantic view with dark skies and twinkling lights dotted around the garden.

The restaurant has been awarded two AA rosettes for culinary excellence and comes recommended in the Michelin guide with the food sourced as locally as possible. You don't need to stay the night to dine here but be aware they close at 9.45pm.

We were given a surprise amuse-bouche of duck liver patty and diced duck with salad with cherry sorbet. We were surprised as it wasn't announced and appeared to be the same of one of the starters on the a la carte menu, we jumped to conclusion that we had been given the wrong starter and then felt embarrassed when told it was an amuse-bouche.. a little pre-warning would have been nice! Especially as I was unaware of the fine dining experience this was to turn in to.. I'm going to blame my fluster of embarrassment on the reason that I didn't take a picture! It was however very nice.

Next up was our actual starters. We both went for the ham, egg and peas to start.

The starter was an absolute gem. The perfectly formed oblong of ham hock was a mix of ham pieces reconstructed together (not like processed ham) on a bed of pickled vegetables with pea mousse and a quail egg complete with runny yolk. The sweet and sour of the pickled vegetables bound together beautifully.

In between our courses we were given a refresher of orange and brandy sorbet.

The flavours were intense but definitely refreshing on the palate, the small shot glasses were quickly devoured by myself and D. Thankfully the brandy wasn't too strong but had an elegant taste balanced with the orange and ice crystals.

For mains I had wanted the rack of lamb, unfortunately they had sold out of these, I guess that was our penalty for eating so late. Not wanting fish or ham (since I had already had ham for my starter) I opted the for the beef which was the same choice as D.

The beef came in two pieces a mini beef fillet and a brisket of beef served on a bed of creamy mash, mushroom duxelle with baby turnips and carrots.

When I cut in to the paler of the two the beef fell away and melted beneath my fork. The second darker cut was more strongly tasting and sat on what appeared to be a spinach bed. The lighter cut sat on a purée of potato dribbled with gravy and graced with a
few vegetables this dish was truly filling and truly divine. Unfortunately D's wasn't as pleasing, although he had ordered the same as me he noted that the beef was quite dry, confused by this I tried a piece of his and it was in fact dry. Slightly disappointing that two dishes could be cooked so differently.

Once again between our courses we were given a sorbet refresher, this time a pina colada. Once again beautifully constructed it was truly refreshing.

Although almost fit to burst we decided we had to try a dessert.

Looking over the menu we decided on sharer dessert the assiette of desserts.  When this was presented to us it really blew us away...

...not only because of the beautiful presentation but also because we worrying for our waistlines and whether we would manage to fit a taster of all them in to our already full bellies!

There were so many desserts on the slate that even the waiter struggled to remember what was before us.

There was (from what I can remember!) pistachio slice (same as what we had at afternoon tea), pistachio ice cream, warm mousse (in a shot glass), mille-feuille, coconut panna cotta, berry soaked sponge, lemon ice cream, cream and lemon curd, orange cheese cake and a spread of lemon curd.

Here is a closer look of some of the desserts on the board.

 The berry soaked sponge was very tart and was only calmed by the cream and curd (perhaps a recommendation for customers?) the cheesecake was well constructed as was the pistachio slice, the mille-feuille paired well with the pistachio ice cream, the panna cotta was a little overdone and missed it's wobble, the chocolate mousse was truly lovely but unfortunately even our teaspoons couldn't reach the bottom of the tiny shot glass! In retrospect I should have just stuck my little finger in!

I must write a small note here of the waiters that served us that night, the two very Yorkshire young men were a delight, they tried their very best and were clearly very down to earth, fine dining without the snooty waiters was a pleasure in itself.

Looking at the prices (although this was all complimentary) they were fair and not fine dining prices, although served in fine dining style with starters ranging from £5-9 pp and mains ranging from £17-24 pp.

With our bellies well and truly full we slept well and soundly that night in one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in.

Breakfast is served from 7.15am to 9.30am with checkout at 11am. We rose early (for us) for breakfast at 8.45am and was again seated in the courtyard restaurant. Once seated we were advised that pastries, cereals and juices were towards the back of the room and were given a menu for hot food. With tea on the table and juices in hand we both decided to order the 'Yorkshire Breakfast'.

First served to us was toast and tea, with a small selection of jams already placed on the tables waiting for us.

The Yorkshire breakfast (as you will note from above) is served with two rashes of bacon, a sausage, two fried eggs, mushrooms, black pudding and a tomato. Both myself and D were disappointed in the lack of a hash brown, something we have had in both Yorkshire and Scotland amongst other places.. Perhaps a little too sleepy or perhaps a little too full from the night before I barely finished my breakfast at all. I found my mushrooms to be a little too greasy something I can usually combat with baked beans.. again absent. D managed more of his than I did and even managed an extra rasher of bacon donated by myself.

Whilst we were staying at the hotel we were asked a couple of times if we were with the wedding party and noticed when leaving there appeared to be a few arriving for a wedding, clearly a winner for weddings although I can't vouch for that.

Close to both the moors and also the North/East Yorkshire coast it's a good place to stay if you want to escape the hubbub of the coast and also to base yourself, as we did, to explore more of the area. The following day for example we took a trip to Robin Hoods Bay (approx. 12 miles away) and then down to Filey.

Here is my postcard from the North Yorkshire Coast.

Rooms at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel range from £99-£350 (in August and dependent on the room) per night. Deals are available to include breakfast and dinner from £129 - 229 per room per night (excluding luxury rooms). You can also take your pooch with you for an extra charge (for the additional cleaning). 

A little info should you be looking for a wedding venue from the hotel...

Weddings Info
Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel is one of the premier wedding venues in Yorkshire, hosting in the region of 100 weddings per year. Couples travel from all over Yorkshire and many parts of the UK to get married at this romantic wedding venue. Weddings information can be seen at

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