Barbara and Ian Gill have been in the licensed trade for more than 40 years now, and though now semi-retired, they keep a watchful eye over a clutch of family businesses which are run by son Alex and daughter Victoria.
These include Harrogate restaurants Tannin Level and Deano’s Bar and Grill, the Mason’s Arms at Bishop Monkton, and the Tiger, a fine old dining inn which is slightly off the beaten track in the quiet backwater village of Coneythorpe, in the fertile plains between Harrogate and York.
From the Norman Conquest right up until the 1960s, most of the village and much of the land around it was part of the Allerton Mauleverer estate, in gratitude to the part William Mauleverer played at Hastings. The fact it remained part of this single estate no doubt militated against development, and even since it was sold off by auction in 1968 Coneythorpe has remained largely unchanged. More recently it has been designated a Conservation Village.
The attractive brick-built pub sits just beside the village green, shaded by a large hawthorn tree. Nearby is the old village pump, which once was Coneythorpe’s only source of water.
We actually came here twice in the space of a couple of weeks. The first was for a quiet drink before heading for a meal at the excellent Zolsha in Knaresborough’s High Street, a favourite port of call when we’re in these parts. But on that visit the food being served to our fellow customers at the Tiger looked so good that we vowed to come back for a meal, which is why we ended up following the narrow road to pretty little Coneythorpe for a second time.
It was certainly worth the return trip. The essential country pub experience starts from the moment you arrive outside, and drive into the car park with that satisfying crunch of gravel beneath the tyres. Stepping in through the central front door, you arrive directly at the well-stocked bar, where you’re greeted by staff who seem genuinely delighted to help. There is a warm and friendly atmosphere to a place which clearly prides itself on providing good old-fashioned service. We are shown through to a table in the front window, where an attrractive colour scheme of creams and grey-greens complements the chunky farmhouse furniture, reclaimed pews, brassware and heavy curtains. A vast array of polished silver and pewter tankards dominate overhead, seemingly strung from every available inch of ceiling and beam space. It must be quite a task keeping them dusted and polished.
It’s a Sunday evening, when a fixed price menu augments the choices available on the pub’s list of traditional roast dinners. I start with the big tasting, moist chicken liver pate, served with plenty of crispy toast, while my partner tucks into some sizeable crab fritters – whose shape and texture at least would be familiar to anyone who has ordered the bhajis back at Zolshar.
Main courses soon follow, for me an imaginative seafood pancake – a soft crepe stuffed with chunks of haddock, juicy king prawns and a rich cheesy, creamy sauce – while my partner faces down a generous Sunday dinner of roast pork and all the trimmings. These two courses were a cracking £11.95 a head.
And though the Tiger does serve as a great village local, where you can come for a pint of hand-pulled real ale and a good natter, it seems that most of the customers here on both our visits were dining. Small wonder then that booking here is highly recommended.
It might be a bit off the beaten track, but this Tiger is well worth hunting down.
The Tiger Inn
Type: Quality rural inn
Address: Coneythorpe, nr Harrogate, HG5 0RY
Telephone: 01423 863 632
Host: Victoria Gill
Opening Hours: Noon-11pm daily
Beers: Three hand-pulled ales - including Timothy Taylor Landlord (£3.80) and Ilkley’s Mary Jane, plus Carlsberg (£3.40) and Peroni lager and Guinness
Wine: Very good selection from £2.80-glass and £14.20 bottle
Food: Quality pub meals served noon-9pm Mon-Sat and noon-8pm Sun
Entertainment: Games machines and TV
Functions: Areas available for private dining
Beer Garden: Attractive area to the front
Parking: Large area
Reviewer: Simon Jenkins