A few months ago, I received this email inviting me to Scarborough to review a hotel and restaurant. I looked at the location and thought yikes, that is some seriously long drive. 5 hours tops. I took up the offer because, despite the fact that I only have slightly less than 3 years driving experience in my life, I absolutely enjoy driving. Give me a long stretch of road, and I will get into the car and drive. I have been blessed to drive an amazing kit of automotive engineering, which is light, drives like the wind and very fuel-efficient, so the need for stops to re-fuel is out-of-the-way. I really needed a break, and the offer was very tempting, so I accepted. On a Friday afternoon in late summer, I set off for Scarborough. Driving past stunning, and I mean stunning English countryside, once I had London way behind me.
Ox Pasture Hall happens to be located within the grounds of North York Moors National Park. 5 hours into the trip with no stopping, because Google had told me the last few miles of my journey was going be on narrow roads that cut through hills and dense foliage of the park. The last thing I wanted was to be on those roads in the dark and get seriously lost. Watching too many episodes of Criminal Minds has garnered me a fear numbing aversion of driving through the woods at night, plus Sat Navs are also notorious for cutting out when you go high up, so I wasn’t taking any chances. Same with mobile phones. Boy, was I correct. Thankfully my red sexy baby behaved true to her automotive design and didn’t need a fuel stop. I arrived at the hotel just after 6.30pm, and as soon as I highlighted, a familiar tingling sensation hit my nostrils. Clean, crisp air. You don’t realise how bad the quality of air you breathe when you live near major towns and cities, until you visit places like this. Even your lungs scream hallelujah.
First impressions – I loved the serenity and peacefulness of the place. It suddenly didn’t matter that I had been on the road for 5+ hours.
Surrounded by all that scenery, it felt like nature was giving me a hug. Top marks for location right there. You can feel your holiday beginning as you walk towards the reception.
At the reception, there was a nice welcoming friendly face and things almost went down south quickly because they didn’t have a record of my booking for that weekend. I almost had a heart attack. You mean I drove all that way???????? Apparently it was just a simple mix up, and I was shown the way to my room with the porter handling my overnight bag.
First impression of the room – it was more like a Suite really with the standard amenities you would expect. I had thought I would fall straight into bed, but the environment was making me feel very zen and relaxed, so I just wandered around taking in the surrounding areas, as it was getting dark fast.
First impressions of the bedroom – it was huge, sheets were clean, pillows smelled great – habit I picked up from my mother. No hairs anywhere, trust me I check those things. There was a large dressing table with a TV on top – not like I was going to be watching any TV in such gorgeous surroundings. I expected more from the bedroom though, I felt it was sparsely decorated, compared with hotels I have been to in the UK and in Europe with similar prices.
The bathroom did make up for the room. I loved the bathroom. Ground level shower cubicle with a rain shower. Hallelujah. I loooooooooove rain showers, I can stand under them for ages.
then my face fell when I went to wash my hands. One of the sink bowls wasn’t letting out water fast enough, and the knob for the shower basically came off on first try. Not a good first start, but I had other plans which involved the bath, with lots of bubbles, hot water, a magazine and a glass of white wine or a mug of green tea. Yes, the life of a pampered princess is so me, why do you think I am working this hard. Teeeheeee.
The view not too far from my bedroom
Dinner starts for 7, so I quickly changed out of the clothes I had been wearing all day into something more comfortable and headed out to the restaurant. Based on the people I saw on my way in, I guessed it was one of those you must dress for dinner establishments. It wasn’t a rule, but I was happy my upbringing picked up on that and I dressed accordingly. On stepping into the restaurant, I was definitely glad I didn’t come looking like the help. Teeeeheeeee.
So, to the restaurant – Warm welcome by the front of house. Standard warm bread rolls with butter on the table. You were presented the Menu and he quietly backed off, telling you to take your time and signal when you were ready to order. Because there were diners seated already, I couldn’t take a picture of the restaurant, but I can tell you it was cosy and suited to hotel type restaurants, nothing too fancy, as you would expect in a standalone restaurant. Don’t let the surroundings fool you though, the food they rolled out, was really top-notch quality. I have been to many so-called fancy restaurants in Central London whose food didn’t even come close in taste and presentation.
To the Menu, oooh, I had lots of options. The entire trip was all expenses paid, so I could order anything. Here are sample shots of the menu.
This was my first course – for the life of me, I can’t remember what this ensemble was called, but it was a great start to dinner. All colourful and pretty. I asked for a Chardonnay with the first course, and it was a fantastic bottle. I only drink white wine and sometimes, some disappoint, this wasn’t one of them.
Then I had another course – The Confit Duck Salad, Duck Liver Parfait and Cherry Sorbet. Loved, loved, loved it, well except the cherry sorbet which was slightly too tart. Overall, great course.
Before the main, I was presented with a lemony Palate cleanser which was a very welcome addition to the meal
For the Main I had the – Slow cooked Belly, Tenderloin stuffed with Apricot and Sage. Savoy Cabbage, sautéed potatoes, Homemade Black Pudding and Red Onion Marmalade. You may be thinking, seriously Dunni, did you expect to eat all THAT!!!, and I would say, the portion and presentation of the first two courses was an indication of how the main would be served, so I knew it wasn’t a stuff your face kind of meal. I wasn’t disappointed. The plate arrived, and all the mouthful of components on the menu were nothing but “taster portions”. Again, loved the presentation. I was being mindful of two things – Sage which positively detest, and was pleased it wasn’t overpowering. Haggis, which I had never tried before, because it is basically cooked cow’s blood (a Scottish delicacy). I have always said the day I try Haggis, it would have to be at a posh place. It wasn’t bad actually, I just couldn’t get my mind away from what it was, so it was the only thing I didn’t finish.
Then came dessert – I had to tell the waiter to come back because I wanted them all. That is what you get with these kind of places, you are never fully stuffed by dessert time. Creme Brulee and I love each other something awful, but Raspberries and I, not so much, so that was off the list. The couple by my table ordered the Chilled Mango Rice pudding and it was a stunning dessert, but I thought nah. Eton Mess – had that several times. Sticky Toffee pudding felt kind of unimpressive in such surroundings. I am continuing my discovery of cheesecakes, which I used to detest before, so I settled for the Lemon Cheesecake with Iced Double Cream and Mandarin Jelly.
Knowing how eye appealing the other courses were, I was looking forward to seeing my dessert. Again, impressive. A surprise with the meal, popping candy. It made me smile and think of my friend Ade. She loves adding popping candy in desserts you don’t expect. It was a fabulous end to the evening, and suddenly that bathtub was calling my name, so I declined the offer for coffee and walked sleepily to my room.
As I promised myself, I got a bath running with the supplies provided by the hotel. Not before I checked around for any particles or hair in the drain. Thankfully I didn’t find any, or plans for a soak would have been cancelled. I still gave the tub a cursory rinse with soap and hot water though. Stopped the waterfall tap, went to get Dan Brown’s Inferno which I have been struggling to finish for weeks now, and later abandoned it (yet again, terrible book, I must say) in favour of some touristy magazines provided by the hotel. Yorkshire is beautiful, who knew. Sipped my mug of Green Tea, while i flipped though the pages. I had a good soak till I fell asleep. All the stress of the long drive seeped out through my pores. Life was good.
What I did the next day. As luck would have it, there was a wedding on Saturday. In my head, I was thinking this would be a fabulous place to get married. Have select friends and family drive up, book all the rooms and enjoy an intimate ceremony. The couple obviously thought the same too. I was able to stay in the background and take some shots. I am no wedding photographer, so pardon some of my pictures. By early afternoon, I set off to explore the town, took some pictures of the sea, sandy beach and sea front. I came back to a glorious Afternoon Tea with all the trimmings.
There obviously is something in the air in Scarborough. I hadn’t felt that calm in quite some time. My body telling me I was long overdue a holiday. First one this year, which is so very unlike me. The blog has taken over my life. Hahahahahaha. Stay tuned for Part 2
In the mean time, you can mosey down to the hotel’s website and check out what they have to offer