When I suggested to my friend we should go to the Windmill at Stainsacre I was met with trepidation.
“Really?” she said. Really, we should. Having been once before for food recently I was more than willing, and hungry, to make a return visit. But, I understood her air of reservation.
Up until recently, my main experience of the Windmill was it being open on an ad-hoc basis, a dark and dingy bar and a meal being a packet of plain crisps – and dogs were banned.
However, in the past year the new landlords at the pub at the heart of the village on the outskirts of Whitby have made huge changes.
The inside has been opened up and internal walls removed to create one bar area which allows the chatty atmosphere to filter though the pub.
Swirly carpets have been replaced with Yorkshire stone-type flags and a real log fire burns away.
And the plain or salt and vinegar option has been replaced by a varied menu of home-cooked food.
Browsing it, you could easily think you were in a restaurant rather than a village local.
Starters to sample included black pudding fritter with poached egg, bacon and crouton salad; king prawns with chilli and garlic butter or off the specials board you could have had chicken liver parfait with red onion chutney.
Heading straight for the mains, we were spoilt for choice. Staple dishes are there for those looking for traditional pub grub such as steak pie, gammon and curry dishes.
No Whitby menu is complete without seafood and haddock and chips is on there too along with scampi. But other dishes with a twist also appeal – haloumi and red pepper houmous burger with sweet peppers; vegetable and green lentil chilli and chicken wrapped in parma ham, stuffed with chorizo and red pepper.
I opted for chicken while my friend went for a seafood risotto off the specials board with haddock, king prawns and shellfish.
We had a drink while we were waiting and soaked up the village atmosphere in the pub which for a Tuesday night was busy with both diners and locals popping in for a couple of pints and a gossip.
Our food was obviously homemade and freshly prepared by the chef, said to have been recruited from another very popular local pub.
The chicken was a large fillet and the crisp ham worked well with the spicy chorizo and pepper. The risotto was creamy and mild, set apart perfectly with the smoked fish flavour.
With hardly room left for dessert, of course we were going to see if anything took our fancy and most of it did.
Cheese and biscuits, ice cream, Eton Mess, sticky toffee pudding and rhubarb crumble – all worthy picks and certainly not the work of a microwave operative, but we went for vanilla cheesecake and black cherries and chocolate brownie and salted caramel sauce.
If you are going to crack the calorie counting you want it to be worth it and this really was.
Besides the food, what was equally as pleasant to stomach was a village pub being taken hold of, regaining its place within the community but having new life and new ideas breathed into it.
Overall Rating: 8