Typical. A week after my own visit to the Blue Lion, and just before I’m about to share my wisdom about this quintessential Yorkshire Dales Inn, the folk at the Good Pub Guide get in first and declare it as being ‘National Inn of the Year’.
I could just write ‘What they said.’ and leave it at that, but it’s still very much worth harking back to what was, to use a localism, a stay that was ‘fair grand’.
The Blue Lion is the type of place where one bottle of wine becomes two, and this, naturally leads on to a third. Book-ending these bottles with a couple of pints of the locally brewed Golden Sheep and a couple of whiskies seemed the polite thing to do on my first visit, which made for a great evening but not much recollection of what we actually ate…
And so a memory-refreshing return visit was booked, this time on a Dinner, Bed & Breakfast rate. This being an ‘Inn’, eating, drinking and then falling into bed here just seems the right thing to do, and at £150 for 2 people midweek, it’s money very well spent.
You’re well fed at the Blue Lion.
After sipping (necking) a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet as we peruse the menu, (the DB&B rate points you to the set menu, but you choose to have an allowance towards the blackboarded a la carte), the dishes we eventually settle on manage to combine the two elements that so many other places seem to struggle with: excellent ingredients that haven’t been mucked about with too much.
So for starters there’s a grouse salad flecked with a mild blue cheese to offset the gamey bird, and there’s a buttery goats cheese that’s so good I was tempted to order another plate of it before the mains arrived. However, although there’s a desire to feed you here, there is a line…
If this sounds simple, it’s the best kind of simple. There’s obviously pride and dedication in getting the important things spot-on. A hunk of pork is cooked to melt-in-the-mouth perfection and the accompanying mash smartly manages to feel hearty and creamy but refined and light at the same time. I’d happily eat a packet of the crozzled nuggets of bacon garnish.
The chicken and rabbit terrine had no hint of toughness, just a good bite of bird and bunny.
By this point we’d succumbed to the second bottle of wine and went back into the bar for dessert. I remember that there was chocolate, and that it got finished.
The dining room itself deserves a mention too, and it’s worth noting that there’s mercifully no Michael Buble et al being piped through while you eat, just the clatter of cutlery on plate and, from tables other than our own, regular mumbles of satisfaction. Service is unobtrusive but efficient.
I did fancy going on a mission to find the perfect Inn but that search seems a bit redundant now. I’ll just go back here.