Firstly, it has to be said that The Bridge at Ruswarp is unequivocally, unashamedly, a drinker’s pub. It makes no pretensions to be anything other – it’s a good, friendly village pub, and on our visit it was packed – with drinkers.
So its food offering was hardly Michelin starred – but nor was it just a token gesture. Unspectacular, but good in parts.
Our Good Friday jaunt up to Northern climes meant that come teatime we were starving, and in need of a decent meal.
We wended our way off the Whitby road, through stunning scenery and silent hamlets, with the occasional cyclist and car for company. But if the roads and villages were quiet, the pubs weren’t. We stopped at two or three, and it seemed the whole Esk Valley population – and visitors – had decided to spend the day in them. Not a table to be had.
A similar fate seemed likely at The Bridge, as, on entering, we were met by a hubbub of chatter and laughter, and barely room to reach the bar. But we were steered past packed tables, strewn wellies and snoozing dogs, to the dining room which, luckily, was almost empty. Thankful to have found somewhere at last, we sat at one of the five glass-topped tables and eagerly eyed the menu.
There were no starters on offer, but never mind, the mains looked filling enough (which did turn out to be the case). And there’s no danger of being overloaded with choice – it’s a menu of pub classics, plain and simple.
Normally in these situations (i.e. food in a country pub) I would go for the steak pie, and almost did until the specials blackboard lured me, and the giant Yorkshire pudding with sausage won the day.
As can be seen in the photo, the barge of a pudding, crewed by two sausages, and its neighbouring home-cut chips, all swamped in delicious gravy, commandeered the plate, leaving just enough room for peas and carrots.
I’d have preferred a bit more flavour to the sausage, but it was a light and crunchy pudding and the chips were cooked just the way I like.
Of our other choices, the homemade cheeseburger came with onion rings which, when removed, took most of the cheese with them. But it was a huge burger in a huge bun, and my son coped admirably with it.
The chicken curry (homemade) was pleasant enough; plenty of chicken chunks in a sauce that was just the right side of too spicy-hot, and fluffy rice.
Probably the highlight of our choices was the chef’s special omelette. It was a tasty mix of mushroom, cheese and tomato filling in a light casing, and was extremely good.
Six choices, plus ice cream on its own, made up the dessert menu, and we opted to share two. The treacle sponge was piping hot and in a sea of custard, while the banoffee cream pie featured “frozen banana flavour mousse” and was freezer-hard.
For whopping portions of good, traditional food in a pleasant, country-pub atmosphere The Bridge ticked a lot of boxes.
Overall Rating: 6.5