Restaurant review: Tickton Grange

My Yorkshire Post restaurant review of a hidden gem.

Tickton Grange exterior

This review originally appeared in the Yorkshire Post in November 2011.

 Home On The Grange

Prior to my visit to Tickton Grange I’d always thought of it as simply a wedding venue. Indeed, a quick straw poll amongst friends and family revealed all had exactly the same opinion – it’s the posh wedding place near Beverley, they offered to a man. It’s a long-held view which can be changed utterly, however, by one outstanding meal at their under-exploited restaurant. A popular wedding venue Tickton Grange undeniably is, but it’s also one of the best places to eat in East Yorkshire.

The Grange is about 4 miles east of Beverley on the Bridlington road. Its restaurant offers formal but comfortable dining in one 30-odd seat room and a second, single-table 20 seater. Chef David Nowell has been in the kitchen here for around 20 years. He hails from the area and, after working in high pressure establishments around the UK and America, came home to Cottingham, took the job at the Grange and has dedicated the last two decades to building a solid team (including two of his sons) serving the hotel’s guests and those locals on-the-ball enough to know the restaurant is here.

Until we sat in the cosy bar, perusing the menu I hadn’t realised how much of their food is sourced locally – fish from Skipsea; crab and lobster from Brid; meats, cheeses, beer, cider, even oil from East Yorkshire and honey from hives not 100 yards from the kitchen’s back door. The dishes themselves all sounded invitingly appetising. There were just 5 or 6 options for each course – which is always a good sign – and all of such mouth-watering promise it made making a choice a welcome chore.

We moved into the dining room, selected a bottle of spicy Spanish red from the reassuringly robust wine list and ordered starters of pheasant ballotine with crisp cured ham, red cabbage and parsley bubbles and the intriguingly-monikored ‘textures’ of pumpkin with smoked goat’s cheese. After an unexpected and playful amouse-bouche of spiced parsnip pannacotta with pear jelly and goat’s cheese cookie (sounds odd, tastes lovely), our dishes were served and immediately we were struck by how much skill had been invested into preparing the food.

Pheasant ballotine with crisp cured ham, red cabbage and parsley bubbles

Both plates were so artfully designed and built with such precision that it honestly felt a shame to allow our cutlery to demolish them. The shapes on the plate, alone, were a joy to behold – rolls, spears, bubbles, tubes, foam and blobs caused as much discussion as the taste when we finally tucked in. The pheasant dish was perfectly cooked, suitably Autumnal and the tastes and textures combined beautifully.

The pumpkin and goat’s cheese platter contained a series of combinations of the two ingredients. There was a raw pumpkin cannoli-style roll filled with cheese, a pumpkin sorbet, toasted pumpkin seeds, cubes of pumpkin-flavoured jelly and (best of all) a dollop of smoked goat’s cheese adorned with a leaf-shaped pumpkin leather. Subsequent investigation revealed that a ‘leather’ is made by baking a layer of pumpkin coulee in a low oven for 5 days before it is cut and served. It’s sweet, flavourful leathery-textured loveliness worked so well with the smoked cheese that I worried the rest of the meal may disappoint in comparison.

I’m glad to say that it didn’t; the main courses were equally vivid. Tender loin of pork, Kiplingcoates ‘chorizo’ hash and local cider was another extraordinary assault on the eyes. The cider had been jellified and cut into cubes, the chorizo hash had been formed into a croquette, with more chorizo cooked into a deep (in colour and taste) berry gravy, the pork wasmoist and perched on a bed of colourful kale. The whole thing was as delicious as it sounds.

Pan fried venison haunch steak, sloe gin and brambles

The other main, pan fried venison haunch steak, sloe gin and brambles, utilised similar seasonal ingredients to equally sumptuous effect. The whole brambles and sloe berries in the sauce cut through the venison’s perfect game-iness and both dishes were bedecked with baby turnips, purple carrots, layers of various mashed potatoes and so many blobs, foams and shoots that every mouthful provided an individual treat.

Pre-dessert we shared a platter of Yorkshire cheeses; they were so simple and delicious that they would bring a surge of pride to the heart of any right-thinking resident of the county.

Walnut treacle tart with chocolate cappuccino ice cream and warm espresso gel

The final course consisted of a walnut treacle tart with chocolate cappuccino ice cream and warm espresso gel, which was chunky, tasty and hearty and a tasting plate of Yorkshire apples, which revisited the pumpkin starter concept and offered several variations on an apple theme. There was an apple crisp, a sorbet, a sherbet, crystallised apple, apple toffee, an apple crème brulee and, star of the show, a decidedly non-apple toffee honeycomb which was so delicious I wanted to head into the grounds to congratulate the bees personally.

The restaurant at Tickton Grange is not beyond criticism – the bar could do with a local cask ale, there was some way-out-of-season asparagus on the menu, there is no real sense of connection with the kitchen (not even the distant sound of slamming oven doors) and the restaurant is obviously under or ill-marketed (perhaps it would benefit from having it’s own identity?) – but any negatives are far outweighed by the positives. If it is to continue, the culinary renaissance currently sweeping the East Riding needs places like Tickton Grange turning out locally-sourced, distinguished dishes of this level of wit, intelligence and invention.

As we were leaving, we passed a happy bride and groom who had wandered away from their wedding party in another part of the grounds. It was only seeing them that reminded me of Tickton Grange’s ingrained reputation in the local area; the food we had enjoyed during the night, however, had totally and permanently changed my personal perception of the place.

Prices:

3 courses £37.50

Cheese course 7.50

Wines: £19 upwards

Open: Lunchtimes everyday between 12-2, Evening service 7 – 9.30

Beverley Tickton Grange Country House Hotel & Restaurant

Tickton

Beverley

East Yorkshire

HU17 9SH

Tel: 01964 543666

www.ticktongrange.co.uk

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Categories: Restaurant Review, Writing, Yorkshire Post

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