Yesterday was a glorious spring day and husband, very unusually, had a day off. Even more unusually, we decided to beat the credit crunch and go on a walk. It was meticulously planned by husband - with the purchase of a Yorkshire dales walking book, an ordnance survey map and a special pen that you can use to write on the map. He spent a good half hour plotting the route from the book on to the map. We set off and it was a marvellous walk - taking in: not only beautiful scenery, but industrial archeology, special buildings (like the seventeenth century friends meeting house), wonderful disused railway bridges, woodland with just flowering bluebells & columbines and the river Wharfe. The walk took us about three hours.
So our expectations of the pub where we had parked and set off from were pretty low. What a welcome mistake though! The Fleece is an old, eighteenth century coaching inn with benches and hanging baskets at the front. Inside, wooden panelled walls with low ceilings, a bar and a larger room for dining. We knew we had to eat there though as soon as we saw the Michelin Guide signs and whatnot in the window before we'd bought our pints. I had half a Timothy Taylor landlord (nectar) and he had a pint of Copper Dragon (even better). I really loved the pub atmosphere: great artwork, the sheep theme (of course) and lovely mid twentieth century oil portraits of middle aged middle class men - who looked like they might have founded the Ramblers Association. I even loved the chair I sat on - a carver with two tapestry panels. Husband was less impressed with a white radiator against a wooden wall. 'Why couldn't they do what Mum does and get a posh cover?', he moaned. The service: yes, was fast, but we had at least three different people serve us. To start, he had a cassoulet. Haricot beans, chicken wings and choritzo. I had chicken liver pate with a tomato, apricot and ginger chutney. Both were utterly scrumptious. You certainly don't forget you're in Yorkshire though. Huge portions - had to leave some of mine. Since he read Kitchen Confidential husband loves to 'dissect' a menu. 'It's Wednesday today, right,' he whispered 'well, they would have done a lot of roast chicken on Sunday, so plenty of left over chicken wings and chicken livers'. We didn't care. In fact we were pleased that they were not wasting any meat - when it' was so well cooked that would be criminal.
For mains hubby had pork belly, wrapped round black pudding with red cabbage. Lush. I had halibut, queen scallops with white wine sauce topped with spinach and chopped tomatoes. Delectable. Perfectly cooked halibut - so moist. And the black pudding, I think, was the best I have ever tasted. (I'm not normally a fan).
For puddings, he had cheese and biscuits. There were two crumbly local cheeses (we think - the waiting staff couldn't identify them). A most gorgeous rocquefort (we think). And served with fruit cake. Perfect. I had vanilla ice cream. The portion was too big for me and not much vanilla. Coffees were fine.
Dinner for two - sixty five quid!
The Fleece: the place where you don't get fleeced. Great food in lovely surroundings.