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Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
4:05 AM 6th November 2021
lifestyle

Weekend Dining: The Pine Marten A Good Choice For Dinner

The Pine Marten reminded me in a strange way of Skyfall, the house that James Bond’s parents owned. Quite apt too as pine martens are mostly found in the north of the UK particularly Scotland.

Skyfall was set in the middle of nowhere, the Pine Marten, a rather nice, converted Innkeepers Lodge, sits on the outskirts of Harrogate close to Harlow Carr Gardens that makes it a pleasant and attractive venue for a trip out for dinner.

Premium Country Pubs has given it a major refurb carried out in just 4 weeks. The makeover has tastefully managed to mix some of the property’s traditional features with modern elements making it appealingly chic; the perfect venue for 007 to meet for dinner especially as there is a great buzz and warm welcome.

The Pine Marten team
The Pine Marten team
Rich Tate, General Manager, is enthusiastic about the changes and his well-established team. The Chef and deputy general manager, along with a few of the waiting staff, have been with Rich for many years, perfecting the menu and service. Monica re-joined the team and certainly knows how to offer excellent authentic customer care without it being intrusive.

Rich explains the panelling in the main dining room above the fireplace is from the original house, it does however fit in with the stylish new décor, which includes 12 bedrooms.

The various ground floor dining rooms have been given a lift with lighting that is not intrusive, adding something to the perfect ambience for a business lunch /dinner, a romantic dining experience or for groups celebrating a special occasion.

Once spring and summer reappears there is a delightful outdoor area with pond.

So, what of the restaurant? The service was first class. Monica was assigned to our table, and it was really refreshing to be asked if the diet coke was preferred from a bottle. A good sign. However, when it came to water for the table there were plenty of bottles ready and it would have been nice to have it automatically delivered without asking. But that is a minor niggle, it was only day two of the grand reopening.

Their menu is classic pub fayre with rather stand out additions to set this venue apart. The Autumn Aperitivo includes a fruity rosé vermouth with Prosecco and pink grapefruit plus an Autumnal Bramble Spritz, using Bombay Sapphire berry infusion and Prosecco, and a particularly good Blood Orange and Grapefruit Gintonica with Tanqueray gin, with Fever-Tree lemon tonic, intense blood orange and zesty grapefruit bitters that gives this colourful drink an edge. They range from £8.25 to £8.75.
There is plenty for the table, from baked camembert with apple & Rosemary chutney and artisan breads which are also available with olives.

From the starters there is a generous portion of the Duck Parfait with pomegranate, apple & sultana chutney, blackcurrant curd and toast (£6.50). It has the strong taste associated with what would be served in France. The Seared wild scallops with rotisserie pork belly, red cabbage & beetroot puree, and fresh apple (£11.95) were cooked to perfection. The pork added a different flavour and texture and certainly didn’t detract, I would have liked just one piece, the beetroot puree added a certain piquancy without diminishing the dish.

For mains from the burger & comfort food classics the Devon Crab & King Prawn Homemade Fish Cakes (£14.50) that came with sautéed asparagus, creamed peas & truffle oil and served with a choice of salad or fries had a lovely light golden coating and good consistency around the crab and a lovely slight crunch. The creamed peas were delicate the asparagus tender with enough crunch both ingredients adding their distinct but not overpowering flavours to the colourful dish.

From the Grill, the rotisserie half chicken served with skinny fries, rich chicken gravy & aioli was offered with a choice of three finishes: truffle, BBQ, or chipotle chilli (£14.50). The truffle finish really added something special.

The steaks are quite expensive 7oz Fillet Steak (£26.95) and 10 oz Rib-Eye Steak (£24,95) but it is premium quality and served with rustic thick-cut chips, and the Pine Marten’s signature caramelised onion, stilton & puff pastry tart, confit tomato, flat mushroom & Parsley butter. A mistake not to try it!

The 160z Chateaubriand for two with all the trimmings at (£54.95) is joined by and Eight-Bone Free Range Lamb Rack for two with crispy thyme baby potatoes sautéed samphire spinach & cavolo nero, minted Bordelaise jus at (£39.95).

The salads and healthy mains include a seared salmon fillet with pan-fried samphire, broccoli & baby spinach, confit tomatoes and fresh salsa and a Nourish Bowl of lentils, quinoa & crispy chickpeas, avocado, roasted cauliflower, ribbons of carrot & mooli, watercress and a slow-roasted tomato toast (£10.50).

Back to the service, two glasses of wine were ordered to accompany the main course and the attention to detail from the waiting staff was excellent as they coordinated with the kitchen to ensure the glasses appeared just before the mains were served.

The desserts had mouth-watering titles like: Chocolate Orange Melting Bomb (8.95) and, what turned out to be the highlight of the evening, a Passion Fruit Martini Eton Mess, one that James Bond would have enjoyed. It was delicious and not too much, with a good alcoholic content. The British Cheese Board (£8.95) was quite plain with an assortment of biscuits, grapes, and celery.

The food was superb, the ambience perfect and the service excellent; a return visit is already on the cards.

Walking through the outdoor area to the car park I was glad it was not Skyfall I certainly would not have been able to muster the energy to beat the baddies after such a fine meal.

To book: The Pine Marten, Otley Rd, Harrogate, HG3 1UE - 01423 709999 / thepinemarten.com / opentable.co.uk