Following the advice of the manager, Louise, we walked to the rear patio of the Falcon, past the new toilets and shower area, and looked out the back.
Just visible to the four of us in the dark of a cold Saturday night were a dozen or so oval-shaped small wooden huts, in woodland setting, with lights twinkling. It was like a scene from a children’s fantasy film.
The glamping pods – luxury cabin-style accommodation – are half of the shock of the new at the Falcon.
The other is the food – it’s gone from typical country inn nosh to upmarket gastro pub, serving traditional and tasty British fare but with a modern individual twist.
Both aspects, I’m glad to say, have enhanced the historic coaching inn (it does still offer “normal” B&B accommodation).
We’ve always appreciated its warm welcome and atmosphere, and that’s still there in abundance, sitting comfortably alongside the refinements.
From the extensive menu – with more choices on the large blackboard – and with several tempting mains and desserts around the corner, we decided on just one starter.
The hot smoked salmon, radish and fennel salad, with jar of prawns Marie rose and toasted rye bread, was, as with everything, delightfully presented.
I’d saved myself for the steak pie – the menu promised a lot, and the kitchen delivered. A hot water crust was satisfyingly crunchy, and beneath, piping hot, was the tenderest of braised chuck steak, already in gravy but with an additional jug of “really beefy” gravy.
Alongside was red cabbage and tenderstem broccoli, but I saw very little of the mini-saucepan of chunky chips – my son had demolished a child’s portion of bangers and mash and promptly set about my chips.
Our other mains choices were slow cooked lamb shank, creamed potato, braised red cabbage, baby onion and pancetta; and roast chicken, air dried ham, goat’s cheese stuffing, spiced leeks, lemon and cracked black pepper and buttered new potatoes.
Both were delicious; the lamb flaked easily from the bone and was surrounded by generous helpings of veg and mash, while the chicken, with tasty cheese filling, was given extra kick by the spiced leeks.
There were plenty of other mains, with some neat touches. The fish with the fish and chips, for example, came beer-battered and cooked in beef dripping, while the homemade burger in toasted bun offered a choice of five toppings.
The 10oz dry aged sirloin, with choice of four sauces, was tempting. And no bog-standard gammon – it comes with fried duck’s egg and pineapple pickle.
From the dessert blackboard I was drawn to “Whitby Gothic”, one of the ice-cream scoop choices. It turned out to be liquorice and blackcurrant flavour, and vied with the ban- offee and the amaretto and black cherry scoops to tingle the tastebuds.
Our other sweet choice was white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake ... as gorgeous as the ice cream.
At nearly £70, the bill was fairly hefty, but the service was excellent and the quality of food and innovation top-notch. I’ve paid more at “top” restaurants for nowhere near as good a meal.
Menu choice 8