The Hare has been on the list for a while now. In fact, it’s nearly five years since Paul and Liz took over a failing pub and we still hadn’t been. It was [like many rural pubs] good for a while but then a succession of indifferent owners let it run to seed and it was closed for quite a while. Part of the problem is the location. It’s set on the western edge of the North Yorks Moors – itself beautiful – but almost just out of reach of the nearest town, Thirsk. It’s also down a little road to almost nowhere, so you have to be intent on going.
Paul and Liz went into it with their eyes open, having run the Crown at Great Ouseburn; here they wanted to do something different and the visitors weren’t necessarily ready for it. Initially they tried all sorts – Sunday lunch, a la carte and tasting menus. Paul is self-taught [and why not?] and so they had a go with three tasting menus – £25, £45 and £65. Currently they only open Wednesday to Saturday evenings [unless by request] and offer two tasting menus – 6 courses for £55 or the full tasting menu at £70. Wine pairing is £35/£45 and well worth it. We tried the 6 courses and the food and presentation were excellent. No question.
After five years they’re still working hard, restoring the building and trying to convert some of the space into a couple of bedrooms. And, if there is a problem, it’s that they really need bedrooms on site in such a remote, yet beautiful, location. The sign on the door says “Restaurant with rooms” after all. They have an arrangement with some little holiday cottages a five or so-minute taxi ride away which, whilst saving the driving, aren’t quite in the same league as the cooking. The Waterside Inn [we know, a bit more upmarket] has small rooms – beautiful, comfortable but tiny and the quality matches the rest of the food and service and that’s what The Hare needs to move up a league. They have them at Oldstead to great effect.
So the food – they’ve won White Rose Restaurant of the Year twice and are shortlisted for it again this year; Good Food Guide; Michelin Restaurant Guide 2016 and 2017; AA Three Crowns. They’re really good but they’re not always full and, on the night we were there, Liz had to serve the seven covers all by herself. Not easy with such complex tasting menus and wine pairings. That she did it so well is marvellous, but they need some help. Looking at other local successes – The Black Swan at Oldstead [Michelin Star] and The Raby Hunt [two Michelin stars] they are true family businesses with many hands to help out the prep, cooking, serving, wine, foraging, gardening etc. Paul and Liz do it all, alongside repointing the whole of the building.
So, go and visit them and encourage their efforts. Their cooking deserves ever wider recognition.
Restaurant with rooms The Hare at Scawton