Harden's survey result
“Every bit as good as the hype… exceptionally clever cooking, lovely staff and a very jolly atmosphere”: still the most common verdict on the Banks family’s isolated pub, “tucked away in the North Yorkshire countryside” (near the family farm), which won global fame in 2017 as TripAdvisor’s #1 Restaurant in the World! But while its “adventurous” nine-course tasting menu still hits “amazing” heights for most reporters, its overall ratings suggest it risks becoming a victim of its own success (including the constraints of Tommy Banks’s TV commitments, and opening a second venue in York). “Sky high prices” are the main gripe, but slips in service are also a concern (one reporter “paid for a signed book and had to ask six times to receive it”).
“Deserving its reputation – a place to go if you really enjoy experiencing a chef at the top of his game”: Tommy Banks and his family’s “old pub with no fancy frills” is “set in the isolated depths of the North Yorks countryside” and, while “really not easy to get to, is really really worth it when you do”. This Great British Chef winner’s food is “a revelation” that “really pushes the boundaries” and with “real flair for finding interesting ways to bring flavour from their extensive garden and local country into their menu” (they own a nearby farm), including by “featuring locally foraged ingredients such as wild garlic and fir”. And while “each course is a delight”, it’s “the feeling of welcome and sheer enthusiasm you get from the parents and his brother James that make this a fabulous experience”. “You either love or hate the set-menu format, but The Black Swan certainly should be on every restaurant-goers bucket list”. Top Menu Tip: “the heritage beetroot confit in beef dripping should, if there’s any justice, become the new ‘snail porridge’ of Fat Duck fame”.
“Well worth the long drive!”. Twenty-eight-year-old wünderkind, Tommy Banks “produces exceptional, exciting – even mind-blowing – tastes and textures, with subtlety, intensity, and integrity” at his family’s “sophisticated, elegant and welcoming” converted drovers’ inn, set in “a lovely location” down a single-track lane, on the fringe of the North Yorks Moors. Much of the produce is from the family farm, and it’s “the real sense of place that helps mark the place out, as well as the warm and friendly service” overseen by brother, James Banks. “The wine list is superb too! Almost 100 wines served by the glass using the Coravin method”. In October 2017, TripAdvisor crowned the place ‘The Best Restaurant in the World’. That might be overdoing it a fraction, but it’s certainly one of the top-20 highest rated destinations in our UK survey.
“A long way off the beaten track, charmingly located in a very quiet hamlet”, Tommy Banks’s converted pub, near Byland Abbey, again wins one of the highest ratings in the survey. “Excellent tasting menus” make a big effort to feature home-grown produce, plus locally farmed and foraged foods, and the result is “quite exceptional, with a tendency to the dramatic and theatrical” and served in a simple dining room “with such humour and attention to detail”.
Black Swan Restaurant Diner Reviews
"An outstanding experience in every respect. Accommodation beautiful and comfortable. Food was excellent and the wine and other drinks parings were ideally matched, with some pleasant surprises. They were introduced with great knowledge and infectious enthusiasm by the lovely staff. I was worried that a Michelin starred establishment might be stuffy and intimidating, but it was nothing of the sort. Relaxed, informal and a truly memorable way to celebrate a special occasion. If you're staying over after dinner, remember to allow time after breakfast to explore the huge kitchen garden."
"We were really looking forward to the Black Swan with all the favourable press, chef’s appearances on national television and in the press, and the inevitable popularity which has followed, meaning that booking is needed three months before your preferred date and then the only way to be guaranteed a table is to book a room and meal package and pay in advance, so there was a lot to live up to. We were shown upstairs to our table in the smaller dining room to one side of the main one and almost before we had sat down the first starter was in front of us, a Jerusalem artichoke crisp with pickled onion and Tunworth cheese filling, which we found very enjoyable and got the taste buds working nicely. Crab and asparagus is a bit old hat, but in this case the brown crab hollandaise on an asparagus purée with small disks of white crab with lovage and horseradish combined in a very good blend of tastes. The next dish was also shellfish, this time langoustine cooked on a Japanese indoor BBQ and then disappointingly somewhat overwhelmed by the whey caramelised with palm sugar. We were not sure whether the sourdough bread, with its strange texture, and the sour butter, which was precisely that, was meant to be a course or not as no information was forthcoming. The following course seemed to be something of a contest between the ferment of chilli from the garden and local raw deer, the main contestants being backed by wild sorrel leaves, onion rings and a rye cracker, and the deer not that tender although with a good taste. Next came lovely Skye scallops with a tastily creamy sauce made with smoked butter and white onion, some rhubarb, again from the garden, and, again, a purée, this time the inevitable Jerusalem artichoke version. All this worked well enough, but we could not but draw comparison with better scallop dishes we have enjoyed elsewhere. The ferment theme continued with the excellent monkfish, roasted in butter for a luxurious finish, but not in harmony with the fermented celeriac which was rather sharp and out of kilter with the caramelised butter for the mushrooms and asparagus. The best dish for us was the crapaudine beetroot cooked in beef fat for five hours, deliciously meaty on the palate and craftily balanced with a sesame seed crisp and horseradish cream (again?). Aged sirloin on the menu but far more beef on the plate with a slow-cooked rib in a (too thick) suet bun, onion and lovage (again) and sirloin which, for me, suffered from being below the ideal temperature and had to be reheated, which made us wonder whether we were eating too slowly for the kitchen, and would this have happened if Tommy Banks had been present? On we went to the desserts - a brown sugar meringue on top of a rhubarb ice cream sandwich, sweet Cicely and a crispy buckwheat wafer; freeze-dried granita-like apple, hay-infused cream and meringue (again); one of the better courses in the form of sweet and savoury crunchy chicory root biscuit and potato custard; and finally, apricot schnapps toast with sour cream and soft, sweet and satisfying candied vegetables. We were surprised that in a restaurant with the Black Swan’s reputation there was no sommelier, no bottles presented, the staff lacked polish and the dishes were removed almost too swiftly (again us eating too slowly for the kitchen?), there were no petits fours, too many occurrences of similar ingredients and, generally, perhaps too much striving for effect. As far as we were concerned it does not live up to the hype. Tip: if you do decide to go to the Black Swan get a taxi from Helmsley unless you are used to country roads."
|Wine per bottle||£29.00|
Oldstead, YO61 4BL
|Monday||6 pm‑8:30 pm|
|Tuesday||6 pm‑8:30 pm|
|Wednesday||6 pm‑8:30 pm|
|Thursday||6 pm‑8:30 pm|
|Friday||6 pm‑8:30 pm|
|Saturday||12 pm‑2 pm, 6 pm‑8:30 pm|
|Sunday||6 pm‑8:30 pm|