Situated in an idyllic North York Moors village, nestled on a riverbank, the Board Inn ticks every imaginable box to qualify as a quintessentially British pub. It’s haphazard, with three rooms and a riverside patio each carrying their own decor and atmosphere. It’s quaint as you like - stuffed ferrets all over the shop, alongside all kinds of odd memorabilia crammed into bursting display cabinets.
Above all, though – it’s honest. The menu does make inevitable, mostly goats cheesey, concessions to modern tastes but, in essence, you can imagine Fanny Craddock feeling quite at home here. It’s all hearty stuff – bangers n mash, cottage pie, chilli con carne – with heartening prices to match, everything coming in under a tenner.
We arrived for our “Light Lunch” en route to Whitby (about 8 miles away), expecting a quick sarnie, a restorative ale or two, and then an afternoon in the spring sun at the seaside. Waddling out three hours later, nursing our full bellies, we concluded that “Light lunch” was more than a slight misnomer. Although we arrived in time for a spectacular sunset, Whitby’s famed fish and chips would have to wait their turn.
It was no mean trade-off, though. There wasn’t a dud amongst all dishes (amply) sampled. Cottage pie was rich with cheese, chilli was deemed amongst the ‘top five ever’ by our resident connoisseur, and bangers were similarly top quality. I plumped (not an accidental choice of word) for the rabbit and hare casserole, which had the sort of gravy that every home cook aspires to – rich, thick and simply delicious. The bones grew a little troublesome towards the end but it was more than worth the struggle.
Desserts were nothing short of spectacular. Bitter chocolate mousse with lightly stewed raspberries in a tuille basket, an elegant, Chantilly-creamed take on Eton Mess with astounding meringue, lemon tart with vanilla cream, were all excellent. Perhaps best, though, were the mulled wine poached pears with chocolate sauce and ginger icecream – an unusual combination both on paper and on the palate, but beautifully so.
Add in a log fire for winter, a sunsoaked patio for summer, and a daunting choice of excellent whiskies, and you’re onto a winner. Just don’t plan a big dinner...