The Sportsman’s Arms, Nr. Harrogate

Giles Coren’s latest review reads like a well argued essay. He succinctly addresses the question: are London restaurants the best in the country? For him, the answer is an overwhelming ‘yes’.  For me, the answer is a well-balanced yes and no.

Yes, London has – and is spewing out – some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. No, I’ve eaten at heaps of non-London restaurants that are excellent in their own special ways, even if they lack big city pizazz.

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The Sportsman’s Arms in Pateley Bridge is a case in point. Even though its main dining room looks like it’s been decorated by grandma (mine has great taste, so that needn’t be a bad thing), it’s a charming restaurant with a menu stuffed full of local game and fresh fish.

I went in March when the weather was the same as today – bloody freezing. The Sportsman’s Arms made us forget the White Witch’s curse over our green and pleasant land, filling us with a delicious three course meal and plenty of wine.

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My choices had a distinctly fishy theme. To start, I went for Seared Shetland Isle Scallops on an onion and fennel confit, grilled pancetta and roquette pesto (£11.50), and for main, it was Roast Whitby Monkfish placed on top of beetroot risotto with more grilled pancetta and horseradish sauce (£19.50).

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The chef clearly knows how to treat his fish  – both the scallops and monkfish were expertly cooked, creating dishes fit for a little lady.  He also knows how well white fish goes with salty pancetta. A delicious combination that’s making my mouth water as I type.

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Before my non-fishy pudding, I managed to fit in a mouthful of nearby Roasted Loin of Venison on parsnip colcannon and tapanade (£19.50). I’ve had a lot of venison this year, so know how I like it – pink, tender and juicy. This venison certainly floated my boat and, on another visit, I think I’d choose deer over fish.

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Dessert was shared – Hannah’s Sticky Ginger Pudding, served with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce (£6.50). I don’t know who Hannah is, but the woman deserves a pudding making medal. From the first taste, I wished it was all for me. The sponge was light, warmed by the ginger, and the oh so sweet toffee sauce calmed by creamy vanilla ice-cream. Mmm, mmmmmm.

I’ll finish by saying two things. One – Giles, why not pay The Sportsman’s Arms a visit, you might be pleasantly surprised. Two – this restaurant gets a LLE Rating of 8 / 10.

The Sportsmans Arms, Wath-in-Nidderdale, Pateley Bridge, Nr. Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 5PP

2 responses to “The Sportsman’s Arms, Nr. Harrogate

  1. Sounds great. And I agree with you and not Giles Coren. I am lucky enough to live in the Shires and believe that there are many restaurants beyond the M25 that are capable of holding their own against London establishments. And the prices tend to be much less.

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