11:54 AM 7th December 2020
The Festive Menu Sparkles At Smiths Arms, Beckwithshaw
I must have driven past Smiths Arms at Beckwithshaw many times but have never ventured inside.
One of my friend's favourite afternoons out is the walk around Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs followed by dinner at Smiths Arms, somehow it never got to the top of my list until now to visit what seems to be a very popular eating venue.
The pub’s name comes from the terms of its original tenancy: the landlord was also the village blacksmith and, along with a duty to keep the horses and equipment from nearby Moor Park Manor in good condition he also served the local community and travellers on the old turnpike road from Otley.
Those days might have passed but it seems the tradition of good reasonably priced food served with welcoming staff is in abundance here.
It reminded me of Dr Who’s Tardis as the inside is much bigger then it looks from outside. Cosy open log fires beckon, the original oak beams catch the eye and you begin to ask yourself why you haven’t been here before?
Owned by Chef and Brewer, you would never know that Smiths Arms was part of a chain as it feels so individual and bespoke. The only thing that gives the corporate identity away is the owner's names in small print at the bottom of the menus.
Tables are socially distanced, sanitizer easily available and it feels as safe as you could ever hope to be. As if by magic Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police plays as we are seated. Even Sting couldn’t have planned that, thankfully Every Breath You Take was absent.
The music is just at the right level so as not to become too obstrusive.
The main menu has all the regular options but the Festive Menu priced at £18.99 for 2 courses or £20.99 for 3 courses really is exceptional value at this time of year. Served until 24th December it will feel like you have been given an early Christmas present.
The price might be right especially for a Yorkshire man who likes good value for money, but that’s no good if the quality of food is below standard. Even the most fastidious Yorkshire man would be happy here.
Young families, couples and walkers added to the different mix of fellow diners.
My starter of Caramelised Winter Vegetable soup had a hint of maple flavour syrup, a swirl of cream and came served with bloomer and butter. Served piping hot it was good on a cold winter's day.
My partner chose the Bloody Mary Cocktail served with fresh lettuce, it tasted better than it looked, it’s the first time I’ve seen the dish served with an olive, though the sourdough bread lived up to expectations.
Our mains of Hand Craved Turkey was plentiful, succulent and served piping hot - I keep mentioning this point as a few places these days seem to think that serving luke warm food is acceptable - you wouldn’t serve it at home and you should not expect it when dining out.
Served with pigs in blankets, goose fat roast potatoes, tasty sausage meat, Yorkshire pudding, honey roast carrots, cabbage and gravy on the size of a plate your mother used to feed you on at home.
There are other options such as the Festive Burger, Beef Bourguignon (£1 extra), and vegetarian options such as Beetroot Wellington and Festive Nut Roast.
If you have any room left the Christmas Pudding served with a Drambuie and clotted cream sauce is not too large. It might be mass produced but it still tasted full bodied and fruity. My partner chose the Festive Berry Choux Bun filled with mascarpone cream, mixed berries and whipped cream which seemed a very guilty pleasure.
Apparently a lot of the staff have worked there for years - it showed as each team member seemed to know what was expected of them, willing to please and they all interacted well with each other and our fellow diners.
There is a large seating area and a garden too which will be perfect in summer.
Sadly we never had time beforehand to walk around Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs, but they will still be there next summer and so will Smiths Arms. It is now definitely on the top of my list of good eating places to re-visit.
Smiths Arms, Church Row, Beckwithshaw, North Yorkshire HG3 1QW