A heartbeat from Castle Howard, it is ridiculously pretty, and the jewel in its crown the graceful Georgian pub, recently spruced up and raring to go.
Landlords Catherine and Leigh Spooner moved back to the village (Catherine was brought up on a nearby farm) and they were disappointed that the local was so dismal – so when the chance came up, they bought it despite having no experience (unless you count market research, says Leigh) and two small children. Leigh’s background is in antiques and renovation and it’s come in a bit handy.
Several stone-floored rooms are full of lovely vintage furniture. The stunning over-mantle mirrors, burnished oak tables, leather armchairs – even the radiators – are period. Candles flicker, fresh flowers are dotted everywhere and the Spooners have a sense of humour too; a stuffed boar’s head hangs over the fire in the main bar. Oh, and somewhere (they’re not for telling you, you’ve got to find it) there’s a Mouseman chair.
Theakstons, Black Sheep, Copper Dragon and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord are on tap in the cosy, welcoming bar. A short and simple menu is chalked on a board, including smoked haddock and spinach, gammon, egg and chips and homemade burger; the steak and ale pie has been slow cooked and the meat is meltingly tender, the herb suet top beautifully light and fabulously crispy round the edges – a joy. Icing on the cake? Vintage Sheffield cutlery.
The Grapes Inn, Railway Street, Slingsby, York, YO62 4AL. 01653 628076. Open Tuesday to Friday, 12-2.30pm and 5.30-11pm; Saturday, 12-11pm; Sunday 12-10.30pm. Closed Mondays except bank holidays.