Driving from Edinburgh to London can get a bit tedious and tiring. A slight detour via Yorkshire seems like a ridiculous idea if you’re trying to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, but quite a good idea if you want to take the scenic route. After all, the Yorkshire Dales are really quite a pretty sight and the rolling countryside rather pleasant. It just so happened that on our leisurely Sunday drive, we had the rather interesting fortune to encounter the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of weather where for 5 minutes there would be 10% visibility and then clear blue skies for an hour, then back again to an Armageddon style storm and so on. The Devonshire Arms is one of those sprawling country house hotels that seems steeped in time. Sprawling gardens that stretch on for acres and acres, happy couples walking about with their trusty spaniel, gardeners tending to their roses, an old listed building that now serves as a hotel and restaurant; you get the drift. What truly makes it steeped in time is that once inside, you realise that your visit to the restaurant is about 30 years too soon, given the average age of the punters there is that of your retired parents. Nevertheless, putting on our best ‘elderly’ face and trying ever so hard to squeeze into the stiff air of pretentious formality, we quietly sat down and made our way through a rather drab Sunday lunch.
There were at least 3 different tasting menus, yet only 3 choices of starter, main and dessert – a combination I thought quite out of order especially on a Sunday lunch. Nevertheless after an amuse bouche of basil and grapefruit mojito, I started with an assiette of duck containing foie gras terrine, roast duck, cured duck, poached rhubarb and sorbet. This ever classic and undying combination went by rather easily and without much ado, as did Miss N’s Confit salmon, brown crab, picked crab, grapefruit, cucumber – pretty, yet a tad bit too delicate to be delicate instead of insipid.
With the mains, my braised lamb shoulder, celeriac puree, pied moutons, peas was severely underseasoned and under-sauced while N’s pork loin, coco beans, black pudding puree, asparagus and girolles was ever so slightly better.
A pre-dessert of mango mousse and granite, yoghurt ice cream and oat crumble was possibly the best thing on the menu. Luckily, my dessert of coffee and liquorice came with all the right intensities of flavour that it deserved with a multitude of textures that kept everything firmly in check. Sadly, the same didn’t apply to N’s dessert of apricot, rye, hazelnut and basil which was rather unpleasant – severely sour apricots and nothing else on the plate managing to dance well enough to maintain a steady rhythm.
With the rain luckily having subsided, we were soon back on the trail with the glimmering sunset behind us and the road to London getting ever shorter. At least some things worked out!