You may, quite reasonably, ask what the point is in reviewing the Pipe and Glass. Here is a pub of national regard, with a Michelin star, crowned Michelin Pub of the Year and stuffed full of happy, fully-stuffed punters every night. What more is there to say about the place?
Well, it’s been a fair while since the Yorkshire Post visited this jewel in the county’s culinary crown and, with a chef as inventive and trend-aware as the P&G’s maestro-in-chief James MacKenzie, regular returns to South Dalton are entirely warranted.
Anyway, it’s been a few years since I’ve had a proper slap-up at the place and I simply want to see what affect all the awards and acclaim have had.
I’m delighted to report that steady sails the ship and the Pipe and Glass continues to operate as Yorkshire’s premier posh grub pub. If anything, it is soaring even higher than ever. If you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor.
For the (increasingly) few of you who are unaware of the Pipe and Glass, it’s a converted 15th- century lodging house to be found at the western end of the small, pretty village of South Dalton, about five miles north west of Beverley. James and wife Kate, fresh from working at the Star at Harome, bought the pub in 2006 and turned it very swiftly from a moribund village boozer into the hottest gastronomic offering in the East Riding.
It has an ultra-cozy front bar, ideal for a sarnie and a pint in front of the welcoming fire and then a series of handsome, intimate dining rooms where a more generous gustation may be undertaken. There are also a couple of apartments and a newly opened private dining room in the former attic space. It’s all fitted out perfectly and is as welcoming a pub as you will find anywhere.
I first visited a couple of weeks after it opened and, suitably impressed, found myself returning most weekends to sit outside with a pint and a bite, swearing at the crossword. I found it equally appealing for quiet meals for two or for large family do’s in the rear conservatory. The staff were, as they remain, wonderful – efficient and attentive but not afraid to drop in the odd cheeky quip when the opportunity presents itself. My attentions, however, have been elsewhere for the last couple of years and so when I returned I was relieved to find everything just as I left it.
After we gave the waitress our order she returned immediately with a delicious amuse-bouche of lobster bisque and olives. We’d only been there five minutes and already our taste buds were under attack.
Next came laughter. My starter of crispy duck egg with a sauté of courgettes, courgette flower, South Dalton chorizo and nasturtiums came served on a fantastic duck’s foot eggcup. Maybe I’m easily pleased but it tickled me no end. The dish is ridiculously local – the chorizo is made three miles up the road and the courgettes and nasturtiums are grown in the pub’s back garden. Only the provenance of the perfectly oozy egg was unknown but as there is a duck pond in the village I honestly wouldn’t be at all surprised if James goes out at dawn to filch them from the nests.
The wild sea trout tartare with a hot smoked salmon scotch egg, pickled samphire and sorrel on the other side of the table was less funny but equally delicious. The salmon scotch egg was a tremendous innovation and the pickled samphire worked superbly.
The two mains were quite a mouthful in every sense; wild turbot with sweet corn pancake, wilted sea greens, clam chowder and Lindisfarne oyster fritter had only a marginally shorter title than duck cooked three ways with celeriac puree, potato and thyme rosti, crispy air dried ham and stewed cherries.
I would like to spend longer telling you about them but the names alone have taken up a full paragraph. I’ll keep it simple; they were great – inventive, eye-popping, intense and surprising. And big. I’ve heard people complain about price rises at the P&G but you get a lot of nosh for your money and, let’s be honest, if you’d bought this pub, worked hard and won a Michelin star wouldn’t you bang a few bob on the price of the chips? Course you would.
I swore I’d stop eating sticky toffee pudding as I have it far too often but the one that came for dessert was served with stout ice cream and walnut brittle, a new twist ensuring that promise didn’t stand a chance. And we both attacked the Pipe and Glass chocolate plate, an extraordinary tableau celebrating the glory of chocolaty marvelousness. It would have been dish of the night had we been able to pick a clear winner.
The Pipe and Glass have celebrated their success with typically Yorkshire understatement. They haven’t built a huge extension or crammed in more tables to take advantage of their well-deserved success. Yes, they’ve put the prices up a bit, but this is suitably reflected in the pitch-perfect quality of the food, staff, surroundings and portion sizes. I would encourage the naysayers to go somewhere else, save twenty quid and have a far inferior experience.
I’m well aware that this entire article sounds like uncritical gushing, but I adore the place and I make no bones about it. It is superb. And remember – this quintessential Yorkshire boozer is the best pub in the country, it is run by Yorkshire folk, using Yorkshire produce and serving dishes that are as good (if not better) than anywhere else in the UK. As a county, we should take enormous pride in the Pipe and Glass. Reet?
Verdict: Two of us spent £115 on three courses each, with wine and a couple of sides. Dear, but well worth it.
The Pipe and Glass Inn, West End, South Dalton, Beverley HU17 7PN. 01430 810246, www.pipeandglass.co.uk