While I love a beer garden in summer, the pub really comes into its own for me in Autumn. Cosy fires, cosseting interiors, great food and drink all conspire to give me that warm glow, especially if you’ve earned it with a bracing country walk.
Whether it’s a special mid-week supper, a slap up weekend lunch or just a cheeky glass of red and a read of the papers, The Dunsforth is one of those pubs that really feels like a treat. While many are still trying to get their heads around the Danish urge to hygge (cosying up indoors with candles, coffee and cake), I would argue that us Brits have always had our own take on the pastime. We gather together and hunker down in our favourite pub come autumn/winter, surrounded by comfortable furnishings, soft lights and the promise of delicious food and a glass of something heartwarming. The Dunsforth country pub and restaurant is just such a place and one that I’m pleased to share with locals and anyone visiting from further field. If you’re planning a visit to North Yorkshire, you really should try to stop by. Set in the picturesque village of Lower Dunsforth, just 3.4 miles from Boroughbridge and the A1/M, it’s easy to get to yet feels reassuringly off the beaten track.
Owned by Paul and Janine Cunliffe, Paul was formerly Head Chef at Harvey Nichols in Leeds and together he and Janine strive for culinary excellence as well as the creation of a really special atmosphere. Fresh, locally sourced produce imbues a menu that is guided by the seasons and complemented by fine wines and real ales. A little while ago, we went along to try out some of the latest dishes.
I always find it difficult to describe just how good some food tastes, it’s a personal experience after all, but I hope my photos give you some idea. From the moment the yummy bread with flavoured butters arrived (I try not to fill myself up on it but it was too good to resist), every dish was just spot on. Greig started with the crispy ham hock and black pudding pave, garnished with tomato relish and quail’s egg while I had the chicken liver pate with beetroot chutney. Both were light in texture and heavy on flavour – so delicious! We are real meat and fish eaters but if you fancy something vegetarian, you could try the cauliflower and truffle soup, goats cheese and thyme ravioli or pea and spinach risotto with a poached egg.As you know, I love my interiors (nearly as much as my food) and a good venue for me has to be pleasing to the eye as well as the palette. One of the things I love about the Dunsforth is the wonderful mix of furnishings and there’s always something interesting to look at in between courses, from beautiful plaid throws and candles to pretty wallpaper, tiled fireplaces and eye-catching ephemera. The feeling is sumptuous but still comfortable, cosy and down to earth.
While the kids tucked into some incredible looking fish & chips and Greig attacked a steak cooked just the way he liked, I tried the cod loin with Lishman’s of Ilkley chorizo, tomato fondue, spinach and new potatoes. Despite the portion sizes being more than generous, it was cooked with real finesse and tasted deliciously light and full of flavour, meaning we still had room for pud.The girls enjoyed bowlfuls of creamy yorkshire ice cream, while Charlie had a sticky toffee pudding with cinder toffee. That sauce was just heavenly and he emptied the whole jug all over his plate! Greig and I shared the dark chocolate marquise with black cherry textures. Again, I was expecting this to be really rich and heavy but in fact was surprisingly smooth and silky and the addition of the cherries was perfect – love that combination.We sat in one of the smaller lounges to eat, which was perfect for a lunchtime visit but the Dunsforth also has a beautiful dining room set off from the main bar where the lovely mix of interiors continues. And look at that cosy log stove and wing back chairs.We visited on a sunny day so decided to take our coffee outside to drink in the pretty garden while the kids ran off some energy and explored. Outside there’s also a newly built pizza oven which provides a nice relaxed option for the warmer months too. So really I guess you could say that the Dunsforth is actually a pub for all seasons. But for now, it’s just perfect for a autumn visit.
Take a look at the website for more information and a closer look at the menus.
The Dunsforth also offers a 3 course Prix Fixe menu with wine for £20pp.
Big thanks to the team at the Dunsforth for making our visit so special.
Disclosure: we received our meal free of charge for the purposes of this review