It’s a Saturday night, it’s foul weather, but a warm welcome awaits in The Board Inn at Lealholm.
The fire is roaring and so is the atmosphere in both the lounge and tap room sides of the village pub, which was established in 1742 – but word has it there were ale houses on the same site prior to the current pub nestling next to the chocolate box setting of the river and duck bridge.
In an industry where on average 29 pubs a week in the UK close it is both heart-warming and refreshing to see an old-fashioned and traditional village local bucking that trend and thriving.
With tables on a Saturday night pretty much booked up a week in advance, it’s a good sign of a place’s popularity.
And by the time we had left the Board we were in no doubt as to why.
We were seated on comfy sofas by the fire while we perused the menu which offered almost too much choice as picking yourself just one dish was an ardous task.
Starters included pan fried scallops and a mixed meat deli board but we went straight for the mains.
Among the mouthwatering options were pan fried scallops with bacon and lemon, pan seared wild duck breast with honeyed root vegetables or pan seared gammon.
However, our party of four picked smoked haddock with poached eggs, chicken with air-dried ham, Lealholm shot pheasant and a good old steak.
The dishes were served up with proper home-made chips and a steaming mix of seasonal vegetables.
Accompaniments to each dish also seemed to have been well thought out.
Prawns adorned the plate that the haddock was served on and for the pheasant there was a rich wild berry jus with hints of cinnamon and mulled wine, while sundried tomatoes with the chicken and air-dried ham gave a hint of Spanish cuisine in this remote corner of the Esk Valley.
The food was undoubtedly delicious.
The meat from all three plates was tender and tasty and cooked to perfection while the fish dish was equally as good.
Flakes of white fish fell from the fork – a sign of the freshness of it.
Fish is purchased every day from local merchants.
Meanwhile, the beef, lamb and pigs are bred within the pub’s own herd and it has its own chickens producing free range eggs.
Dessert wasn’t needed but was necessary to try after casting an eye of what was coming out of the kitchen.
Choices were both traditional with gooseberry crumble and sticky toffee pudding, but there were also some twists on the norm – chocolate beetroot cake being one and poached pears with a slab of blue cheese and damson gin being another.
If that was overfacing then peanut butter icecream definitely proved to be a winner.
The Board Inn knows what it is doing and does it so well.
In this small, little-known village is an example of fine dining and using what it has on its doorstep absolutely to its advantage.
Wash it all down with a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc and you have a happy and well fed bunch of diners.