The beef cheek accompanied by pearl barley and parsley risotto, with onions braised in Riggwelter ale brewed in the Yorkshire Dales, was one of seven mains on the menu.
My partner chose the Waterford Farm tender loin and cured belly pork, Alexander leaves, millet and pork jus.
But both dishes were treats.
The beef was highly flavoursome and extremely well-cooked; the risotto was so tasty that I would have had the same again, but you pay for the quality not the quantity.
The pork was also succulent, tender and delicately displayed.
We were dining in the James Martin Restaurant at the refurbished Talbot Hotel, Malton.
I had enjoyed lunch in the bar with a former manager and I had been meaning to return for some time for dinner.
I remember the hotel under its previous owners and it has been brought back to life like some sleeping beauty, restored to an attractive exterior and interior with manicured gardens, a pleasant bar with the choice of 22 gins and almost as many single malts.
There is also an atrium cum conservatory and a cosy small seating area, plus the superb lounge with deep sofas and copies of The Field and Shooting Gazette.
There are engravings and hunting scenes, and pictures of riders and horses, hotel ancestry and nostalgia imagery, while the sound of jazz music floats through the rooms.
It didn’t start that well, though. After being given the menu in the empty but pleasant bar, the staff member serving us sneezed, twice, into their hands; shortly afterwards they took my Timothy Taylors and a glass of Bombay Sapphire gin into the restaurant before we could offer to carry our own glasses.
But as we entered the 50-cover restaurant itself, the sound of Charles Trenet’s classic La Mer made up for it.
The dining room itself was bright, thanks to 27 wall lights, 16 sets of lights in two chandeliers and several wall-picture illuminations. A few table lights instead might have created more of an atmosphere.
But we weren’t there for the dazzling electrics, or even for the superb Vanity Fair caricatures and the paintings of Arabian stallions on the nice gold and jade wallpaper.
Like the other 14 diners there that Saturday evening, we were there for the executive chef’s fare, and it was high quality, with unusual ingredients that were creative ly entertaining such as ramson flowers, Alexander leaf and the flavour of kalamansi.
And there was a complimentary onion-based amuse bouche appetiser, topped with beer froth. It’s that kind of treat that makes any dining out experience less ordinary, and the white-aproned waiters were attentive and courteous.
My starter of dressed Whitby (where else?) white crab with avocado, fennel pollen, lardo (a tasty slice of cured pork), a refreshing garden sorrel sorbet and bronze fennel at £9.50, was very nice and I could have eaten the crab twice over.
My partner’s starter of lightly-pounded tuna loin with foie gras toast, shallots, chives and olive oil, at £9.95, was made more colourful with a sprinkling of edible flowers.
The mains were £21-£22 but left enough room for dessert; the croissant butter pudding of white chocolate, whisky and cinder toffee foam (£6.25) and the dark chocolate and peanut bar (£7.95) that was nicer-looking and tastier than it sounds, with its kalamansi (citric) ice cream and nibbed coco.
For food well-presented, or just for a drink at a bar with character, it’s worth a visit.
Ratings out of ten: Food 8; menu choice 9; service 8; decor 9; ambience 8; overall 9.