It’s now more than six years ago since Neil Morrissey and Richard Fox gatecrashed the town of Marton Cum Grafton in North Yorkshire, together with a Channel 4 camera crew, a lorry load of brewing equipment and a pretentious ‘Ye Olde’ title added prior to the already well know ‘The Punch Bowl Inn‘.
These days it’s back in the hands of Yorkshire men Chris Blundell and Michael Ibbotson under the banner Provenance Inns, together with The Punch Bowl Inn Provence Inn’s own seven pub restaurants across Yorkshire.
On a windy November evening we took the 45 minute drive from West to North Yorkshire. Peering through the window of the Punch Bowl and the sight of a roaring open fire was a relief to our shivering bones, and if that wasn’t enough to put a smile on our faces, the buzzing atmosphere that instantly greeted us upon our entrance ensured we were in for a great night.
Comfortable at our table, located in a room just off the main bar where the lighting was dimmed and candlelight illuminated the tables together with the flicker of the red hot coals in the fireplace, we perused a menu that I knew straight away would cause me problems, simply because the handful of dishes in both the starter and main course sections where exactly to my taste. This was going to be a tough decision.
To begin with me and my dining partner for the evening (my lovely wife) opted to share the Seafood Platter, a wooden plank topped with an amazing shell of baked shellfish, mini prawn cocktails, haddock goujons and smoked salmon. Wow! There is so much opportunity to get things wrong with a dish like this – do you invest time in the perfect batter for the goujon or spend valuable minutes perfecting the sauce that brings the shellfish together so beautifully? Clearly The Punch Bowl Inn have mastered both elements; crispy batter incases fish that flakes perfectly and pays tribute to its freshness, and as for the shell fish – perfect. Just perfect.
For main my wife opted to go for the beef stew from the specials menu and I was lured by the trio of Yorkshire lamb. Some would argue a stew is an easy dish to get right and if you want an OK stew, you’re probably right, but the Punch Bowl Inn don’t strike me as a place that opts for OK. The dumplings and puff pasty lid were created to perfection and faultless, although less can be said for the stew I’m afraid to report. For my wife it was over seasoned, extremely salty and a disappointment.
The lamb, however, was well cooked and the carrot and thyme puree together with the red cabbage made great accompaniments. The star of the show was the hotpot. Well seasoned and exactly how it should be, the loin and stuffed breast were cooked well but the lamb was a little fatty in places. That’s always a danger.
A little disappointed with the mains following the amazing starter, the actual star of the night was about to come. I opted for the Taste of Apples which I can genuinely say is one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long long time. In fact it was so good I’d rate it better than the Raspberry Delice that I had recently at the Michelin starred Launceston Place.
The elements that made up this amazing dessert were a mini apple pie, apple jelly, apple bavarois and apple sorbet, which left me feeling fresh and cleansed but at the same whacked me time after time with flavours of different varieties of apples. A true delight.
Things were also great at the other side of the table where my wife was presented with the most perfect creme brûlée accompanied by an amazing toll house cookie.
All in all The Punch Bowl Inn didn’t disappoint. I sincerely hope that the over-seasoning was a small mistake on the evening and not a true reflection on their exacting standards.
I’ll most certainly be returning to The Punch Bowl Inn at Marton and I strongly urge you to pay them a visit too!