The last time I ate at the White Horse and Griffin, it was a staff festive night out nearly 18 months ago, in what could only be described as a party atmosphere.
Memories of such events are usually quite hazy, although there are some recollections of liberal conversations and (former) ad reps hammering the gaffer’s credit card by knocking back the white wine (and the red, and the rose) like it was going out of fashion.
However, a much quieter affair beckoned this time.
With our eldest away canoeing, rock climbing and orienteering on a school trip, the prospect of a civilised evening appealed, although our baby daughter did her level best to disrupt things by attempting to pull forks off the table, digging crayons into my bread and then cranking the volume up a notch when dessert arrived!
We booked early at the iconic former coaching inn, bearing in mind the baby’s bedtime, and this worked well as we had the cosy downstairs restaurant to ourselves. There is a narrow bar area at the top as you enter the building, lined both sides by drinkers relaxing after a hard day’s graft.
So down to the food and the hearty supply of asparagus on the menu did not go unnoticed.
Shame I am not a big fan, but it is in season and such is its popularity that I see the pointy veg has its own festivals – the amusingly named Asparafest being one.
For those wanting to shun the greenery, there were plenty of other options.
The complimentary warm bread and butter was a nice touch to whet the appetite for what was to follow.
My braised and deep fried oxtail with horseradish and onion cream to start with was very good indeed, a very subtle but distinct blend of tastes and textures. The wife went for a local dish – Whitby crab bloody mary – which arrived with a crayfish scotch egg.
She was delighted with her choice and said she could pick out all the individual flavours.
Her main course of crispy pan-fried salmon, chosen from the specials board, was equally impressive. This was accompanied with Jersey royals and crab, those good old asparagus spears, avocado, mayonnaise and bacon crumb.
Normally more of a pork man, I decided to give the two-way lamb a go; this comprised a cutlet and slow-cooked shoulder with spring cabbage, and wild garlic anna potatoes, a tad pricey at £21 but enjoyable all the same.
We rarely eat three courses on any meal out, but the quality of the starters and mains convinced us at least to share a dessert – and it’s fair to say it was the star of the show. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate, or cheesecake, so no prizes for guessing what we ordered, and it came with a scattering of fresh raspberries, along with a cooling raspberry sorbet.
It was a very pleasant way to conclude our evening and a big thumbs up too to the excellent service. Fair to say the quality of the food was reflected in the prices. It may be that the White Horse and Griffin – once used as a meeting place for Captains Cook and Scoresby – makes more for a choice of a treat rather than a casual ‘let’s drop in for tea’ sort of a place, but there were no complaints from us at the bill and I would recommend it to anyone.