Sit and eat – or stay – at the Old Lodge in Malton and you’re surrounded by the past; there can be few more historic venues in the area for a meal, stay, function or conference than this.
The mansion, a listed building, dates back to 1604, the year Othello was first performed and a year before the Gunpowder Plot, and was originally built as the gatehouse to the castle of Malton. Its grounds are a national monument, with treasures possibly underneath, still waiting to be discovered – the TV programme Time Team found some!
And in the smart and serene restaurant you can eat like a king. The menus are extensive – different ones for lunches and evenings, for Sundays, for bar meals or restaurant.
On the day we went, Wartime Weekend was in full swing and, although Malton appears to have little involvement, the Old Lodge had got into the spirit, the rooms bedecked with bunting and the staff dressed in Forties outfits. It seemed fitting; the castellated outside may date back centuries but inside feels like a mid-20th century parlour, with oak panelling and antique furnishings throughout.
For starters our party chose pigs in blankets with honey mustard dip (£4.15), traditional prawn cocktail (£6.15) and warm goats cheese topped with crispy pancetta and salad dressing (£5.95).
All three were appetising entrees, my choice being the piping-hot sausages in their bacon blankets, wonderfully offset by a sweet honey-laden sauce.
The Old Lodge prides itself on its meat: the beef is all from North Yorkshire and where possible is from a Hereford Cross – an old English breed noted for its tenderness and flavour. The pork and lamb are similarly carefully sourced.
And the beef certainly was deliciously tender in one of our mains choices, North Yorkshire steak, onion and black sheep suet crust pudding. The pudding was not quite warmed through and was cool in the middle, but it was a sumptuous and filling dish.
My lime marinated tempura battered chicken was accompanied by tasty sweet chilli and mayonnaise dips, while a rump steak was another fine cut of meat, although would have benefited from a choice of sauce and the addition of chips and salad, rather than one or the other.
Those three main courses came with fluffy homemade chips, and cost £11.95 each. And it’s worth noting that, despite the emphasis on meats, there is a good range of vegetarian options, something lacking in many restaurants.
My son’s choice from the children’s menu was bangers and mash, and that was followed by a delicious lemon-meringue flavoured ice cream.
For the rest of the family, we could manage just one dessert between us, a Black Forest cheesecake (£4.90), which, with coffee, brought a very satisfying meal to a close.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat in Malton it’s easy to miss the Old Lodge – it stands beside Old Maltongate but is hidden behind an ancient, high stone wall, with just a small gateway entrance. But it’s well worth a stop, a look around the historic building and grounds (at night, colour-changing lights give an ethereal feel to the centuries-old outer wall), and a pleasing meal.
OVERALL RATING 8
Food 8, menu choice 8, service 8, decor 7, ambience 7