Swinton Park in North Yorkshire: An outstanding experience

Swinton Park in North Yorkshire has been on my wish list for a long time. It’s one of those places that is regularly talked about and everybody seems to know someone who’s been.

For me, Swinton Park epitomises what makes Yorkshire great. Nobody can argue that the country house is simply beautiful, especially when it’s lit up at night. It has an air of authority about it.

Scallop at Swinton ParkSet in over 200 acres of lush Yorkshire parkland, add a few lakes and gardens in and surround it with the most amazing national park on the planet – The Yorkshire Dales – and I’m sure you can begin to imagine.

Entering the house, now home to a 30-bedroom hotel, is a pretty grand affair too. Every element from the greeting of the staff to the décor shouts quality, as too does the drawing room, where we were taken to enjoy pre-dinner drinks while perusing the menu.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it would seem sinful to leave Swinton Park without really testing what the chef (Simon Crannage) has to offer. Priced at £70 per head, this isn’t cheap. To compare, the Michelin-starred The Kitchen in Leith which I visited a few years ago prices its tasting menu is £75.

But, to be fair, a restaurant on the banks of the Firth of Forth can hardly be compared to such a grand establishment in God’s own county can it?

With seven courses, I knew this was going to be a real experience. If you’re looking for a quick meal out, this is not the place to come.

Trout course at Swinton ParkWe started with Swinton Estate trout with charred leek, artichoke pear and dill and follow this with our second dish of the evening, a hand dived scallop with onion juniper and Cumbrian cured ham. Both dishes are delightfully light but packed to the rafters with flavour. I’ll confess to not being the biggest fan of trout in the past but serve it to me the way Swinton Park did and I’ll eat it all day long.

Main course at Swinton ParkA delightful mushroom course followed by garden lavender sorbet made up courses three and four before we move on to the main course of local poached partridge breast with partridge leg bon bon garden corn, smoked bacon and slow cooked egg yolk. For me, this course, as it should, steals the show. It’s a perfect demonstration of the chef’s skills. An incredibly elegant dish that’s executed to perfection and leaves you wanting more, which is lucky really because we still had two courses to go.

Exterior Swinton ParkIt’s at the pre-dessert stage that things started to get a tad more experimental. Firstly we presented with what looks like the most amazing looking chocolate mousse, but all’s not what it seems… The addition of tarragon and artichoke are too much for my wife and I have to admit although I finished the lot it’s not something I’ll be looking out for in the future, as clever as the dessert may be.

Next up was the main dessert of beetroot mousse and blackberry mess. It’s very different to anything I’ve had in the past and displays the talents of the chef. Now this I did like, however it lacked any level of sweetness that I crave at the end of a meal.

My hope is that by now you’ve come to the realisation that a visit to Swinton Park in North Yorkshire is an experience, an outstanding venue and an amazing place to have dinner. They pride themselves on their ability to source many of the ingredients on the menu from the Swinton Estate, which is always good, and the service is impeccable, as is the location.

All in all, Swinton Park is an incredibly well priced experience, and one that I very much hope to repeat again!

Swinton Park | Ripon | North Yorkshire | HG4 4JH | Phone: 01765 680900