Claudia Blake visits the 1783 Bar & Restaurant at The Burgoyne in Reeth
The dining facilities at The Burgoyne in Reeth have had a makeover. And they’ve been christened with a brand new name to celebrate the revamp: the 1783 Bar and Restaurant.
Unless it’s Chef’s PIN number, I assume 1783 is when The Burgoyne, originally called Hill House, was built. Since then it has been substantially extended, and nowadays dominates the top end of the village green with the widest frontage of any building in Reeth. By day there are splendid views across the village to Swaledale’s lush green fellsides.
1783 was one of history’s less busy years. The American War of Independence finally petered out; in France the Montgolfier brothers exhibited their new-fangled hot-air balloon. Other than that, it was business as usual. Like the year after which it is named, the décor of the 1783 Restaurant is quiet and relatively incident-free: muted grey walls, a single potted plant, and the bare minimum of artwork. Make no mistake, though, this is a good thing. Designer clutter or masses of cutesy local paintings would ruin the tranquil mood of this harmonious room.
The walls may have been sparse, but there was no shortage of artistry on show in the dishes coming out of the kitchen, starting with ‘Chef’s Snack’, a bijou little salmon-based amuse bouche perched on a gnarled stone. If this is what Chef snacks on when he’s peckish, he’s a lucky man. Beats a Greggs’ pasty hands down.
The night’s eating began in earnest with the arrival of two impeccably plated starters: grouse and smoked trout. The grouse – from the local moors, naturally – was seasoned and cooked with awesome precision. Melting and juicy, it sat on a cosy cushion of succulent choucroutestyle Savoy cabbage. I would have liked a spoonful more of the juniper jus that came with it, but other than that it was simply perfect.
Our other starter, the smoked trout, depended more on a fine balance of flavours and textures than on cooking per se, and here too the kitchen staff excelled themselves. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of pairing smoked trout with goat’s curd, but the combination – helped along by pickled kohlrabi, caviar, salmon roe and micro-greens – was light, bright and refreshing.
Time to move on to our mains: roast rump of lamb, and pan-fried mallard. And in both cases, as with the grouse, the meat was clearly cooked by someone with sky-high standards and a perfect sense of timing.
The lamb came with a super-smooth swede purée and a generous pile of chanterelle mushrooms, with slivers of charred baby gem lettuce adding crunch and a hint of bitterness. The menu advised us that the accompanying scribble of sauce was a Laphroaig jus, though without the tip-off I doubt I would have twigged that it contained whisky, let alone a specific Islay malt. What the jus did, though, was pull the whole dish together into an enticing, harmonious, cosy plateful.
I felt the same way about the cardamom jus that came with the mallard: the cardamom didn’t exactly shout, but it was doing a good job backstage, gently encouraging the rest of the cast to fine-tune their performance. These other elements of the dish included a silken celeriac purée and some finely textured truffle mash. Possibly a touch too much truffle oil here; truffle is an imposing flavour, and a little goes a long way. But this is a minor quibble. Both our mains get an unambiguous and extremely enthusiastic thumbs-up.
Having been bowled over by the starters and mains, we were confident that the 1783’s desserts wouldn’t let us down. Our confidence was well placed. A petite but muscular dark chocolate mousse, topped with a dainty poached pear, ticked all the boxes, flavour- and texturewise. It came with sherry soaked prunes, so that’s the ‘digestive health’ box ticked off too.
Our other dessert was a neat pink slice of damson parfait topped with a vibrant maroon sphere of bramble sorbet. Damson is one of my favourite fruits, and this particular parfait was about the most damsony thing imaginable, short of being an actual damson. Absolutely damson-tastic.
Well, what a splendid evening! As for drinks, the menu suggests a different wine, available by the glass, for each of the starters and mains listed – an Australian Shiraz with the lamb, a French Cabernet Sauvignon with the duck and so on. We decided to follow these recommendations, and agreed that whoever made the matches did a jolly decent job of it.
At £34 a head for starter and mains, with desserts, wines and coffees to pay on top of that, eating at The Burgoyne isn’t a budget option. In terms of the level of food and service that you get, though, it’s good value for money. The gentry who took up residence in Hill House in 1783 would undoubtedly have been wealthy folk, but I can’t believe they ate half as luxuriously as you can at The Burgoyne today. 1783 may not be a memorable year, but it’s a very memorable restaurant.
For further information about 1783 Bar & Restaurant visit 1783restaurant.co.uk or call 01748 884292.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Stylishly presented high-end food, cooked with flair and an eye for detail.
Elegantly unfussy country house hotel in a charming Dales village.
Thoroughly professional, with just the right mix of warmth and efficiency.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Three courses cost us £41 per head, and worth every penny
DOWN THE HATCH
Suggested wine pairings range from £5 to £7 for a 125ml glass.
The 1783 also serves bar lunches and Sunday lunches.
MAKE A DAY OF IT
Reeth is the starting point for a variety of classic Swaledale walks, ranging from riverside saunters to stiff hikes up Fremington Edge or Calver Hill.