Chances are, you’ve sailed past the Ham & Cheese Inn, tucked off the A64 just this side of the Malton bypass. Other pubs and eateries on the roadside will doubtless attract the passing holidaymakers, who will make their decisions on the look of the place and the big signs proclaiming two-for-one and the like. Marked by a single road sign, this one needs to be found.
But those who do venture down the turn-off to the tiny village of Scagglethorpe are rewarded with some fine dining in a friendly country pub.
There was a cheery welcome on entering the pub, the bar immediately facing the door. There’s a lobby to the left with stone fireplace for a log fire and cosy armchairs and sofa, which looked tempting for settling down with our drinks. But for our meals we were steered through to a separate dining room, decorated in an elegant cream and red.
We found that the timing of our visit, on a late Sunday afternoon, was fortuitous – we had the advantage of three different menus to peruse.
The Sunday lunch menu was still available, as well as bar menu and evening menu.
And we took full advantage, mixing the three menus for our choices.
The Ham & Cheese was originally one of the first farm shops in the country, before it became an inn, with farmers taking their produce there to sell. That, it is believed, is how it got its name.
And the use of locally produced fresh food is still to the fore; in such a rural area the journey from farm to fork is not a long one.
For our starters we chose prawn cocktail with homemade marie rose sauce, from the Sunday lunch menu (a nice touch was a complimentary Yorkshire pudding slotted between starter and main on that menu); chicken liver pate with hot toast; bacon and mushrooms simmered in cream and white wine sauce; and mushrooms simmered in a creamy garlic sauce.
The latter was a feast of fresh mushrooms with a good slab of crusty bread and lashings of butter, while the pate was accompanied by homemade chutney, although not enough toast for the ample amount of meat mixture.
Starters despatched, and there was only a short wait for our main courses to arrive.
My son’s sausage and mash with onion gravy went down well, as did his sister’s seared wild Alaskan salmon coated in a white wine, mushroom and prawn sauce, although the sauce slightly overpowered the fish.
My wife’s braised tender pieces of beef topped with golden pastry crust certainly lived up to its billing, the succulent meat almost dropping off the fork.
Equally tasty were my strips of pork fillet pan fried with onion, mushrooms and peppers, and there was a huge serving of veg and chips to accompany our mains.
It was quite a surprise that, after the hefty number of choices for the first two courses, the desserts board contained only four offerings – apple crumble, ice cream, chocolate fudge cake and banana split.
By that stage, though, we were already close to full, and well satisfied with the previous dishes, so declined a dessert.
Menu choice 8