The Wyvill Arms, Constable Burton

Regular readers (hello you two!) will recall when The Black Swan at Oldstead was voted BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD by Sh*tadvisor. Ridiculous. Preposterous. Even they thought so. It’s good, great even; now our special occasion of choice. Trouble is, when hip people from San Fran came over (tired of, say, the French Laundry) and they found the Best Restaurant In The World was a little pub in North Yorkshire they were, shall we say, surprised. A full order book for the next year or two cooled a little. Still, despite all this hype crap, it’s actually still a really great place to eat. It really is. So, if you’re thinking of coming over from San Fran or Moscow [you might not be welcome just at the moment] or Tokyo that’s fine. It’s still a little pub in North Yorkshire.

Fame is all very well. But it has to live up its reputation. The Black Swan? Absolutely. The Wyvill Arms? Now there’s another story. The landlord won the Good Pub Guide Licensee of the Year Award in 2020 which, whilst a great accolade, doesn’t necessarily means it’s a great pub, or serves great food. As we found. 

Now, regular readers (hi you two again!) will remember this a wholly positive blog and, if you’re not in it, maybe we just haven’t got to you yet? However Yorkshire is the acknowledged centre of the earth and has a reputation to defend. A recent survey established that northern restaurants dominate the National UK Restaurant Awards so we need to be critical to ensure standards are maintained.

Celebrating our 47th Wedding Anniversary (!) we were, as usual, too late to book anywhere in the mad COVID summer. Most places were closed on Tuesday evening or fully booked. Luckily (sic) the Wyvill Arms could fit us in at 18:15. We don’t know why the early table, as the place was deserted. 

The menu wasn’t over appealing – a mixture of the usual fare – steaks, fish ‘n’ chips, etc. and a sneaking feeling that quantity would take precedence over quality. Ravioli – three ‘raviolo’ filled with a runny garlic-heavy filling, drowned out in a sharp olive dressing. Goats cheese with an unnecessarily large mountain of onion marmalade. Mains were two fish specials – a huge, unskinned piece of hake, and a nicely cooked piece of halibut swimming (drowning?) in hollandaise sauce. A shared elderflower rubbery panacotta finished us off. Weak coffee with cold milk and an espresso that, if held to the light, you could see through. Come on, there’s a Yorkshire reputation to maintain here. Large portions of average food is just a cop out. Sort yourselves out. Apparently they claim it’s featured in the Good Pub Guide and the Michelin Guide. Really? Why?

Whew! So we’re probably not returning. Next time turn left for the Golden Lion in Osmotherley or, even better, turn right for the Blue Lion in East Witton.

Pub landlord of the year The Wyvill Arms

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