Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Ham & Cheese - and very good beer
GAVIN AITCHISON visits a tasty-sounding watering hole just off the A64.
IF this place were to open today, it would win plaudits galore.
The locals would hail it as a great example of people power and revel in their innovation. The Government would claim it as the Big Society in action. Twitter would well up with love for the little guys, standing up against the big capitalists and supermarkets.
But this place is nothing new. It opened 105 years ago. Yes, it seems that in the fantastically named hamlet of Scagglethorpe, just east of Malton, the locals of 1907 were rather ahead of their time.
The Ham and Cheese Inn, this week’s pub of choice, began life not as a pub at all, but as a co-operative farm shop.
Local farmers, so the story goes, would gather to sell their wares and on that spot, not terribly surprisingly, there grew up an inn. You might think the first landlord could have been a tad more imaginative with the name, but isn’t that a great little way for a pub to be conceived?
If you’ve driven between York and Scarborough, you will have passed the Ham and Cheese perhaps without realising. It’s only a hundred yards off the A64, but you can be past it before you know it, unless you’re looking for the Scagglethorpe turn-off.
I have meant for a year or so to pay this place a visit, but it was our sister paper, The Gazette and Herald, that finally inspired me to do so.
They reported in February that the pub was in new free-house ownership, after being closed for a few months around Christmas, and the plans by the new bosses James Chambers and Alan Whitehead sounded impressive, so I hopped on the bus and went to take a look.
The bar is straight ahead of you as you enter by the front door and the beer selection is impressive. On my visit, there were two Wold Top offerings, Headland Red and Angler’s Reward, one from Timothy Taylor’s and Prior’s Ale from North Yorkshire Brewery at Pinchinthorpe, in the extreme north of the county.
The last of those is the one I opted for first and it was excellent, a pale, crisp ale with a strong fruity flavour, from an increasingly-satisfying brewery. The Headland Red, a new Wold Top one for me, was also enjoyable, with a robust, biscuity body.
The Ham and Cheese is a large building for a country pub, and James and Alan have been busy tidying it up. They’ve already made some improvements to the interior, are currently refurbishing the four letting bedrooms, and will soon be turning their attention to the outside, including the beer garden.
James says the villagers have been very supportive and says trade from the wider area is also building. He is hopeful that business will grow and grow, aided by music and quiz nights, but says that, ideally, “we want to make a statement about our food”.
The signs certainly bode well. Alan has 43 years’ experience and has already been joined in the kitchen by a second chef, producing a wide meat and fish selection, three vegetarian options each day, and some impressive sounding home-made desserts.
In keeping with the pub’s origins, as much of the produce as possible is sourced locally, meaning the suppliers and customers alike are, quite plausibly, the direct descendants of those who met here in the pub’s embryonic days, just over a century ago.
And if that doesn’t merit a few plaudits, then all I can say is that you’re a tougher crowd to please than I thought.
• Follow Gav at twitter.com/pintsofview
• DRINKERS have helped to raise more than £4,000 for charity, thanks to Black Sheep’s spring special, All Creatures.
The limited edition beer, a light ale at 3.5 per cent, was launched earlier this year and 5p a pint goes to Herriot Hospice Homecare, which helps people with life-limiting illnesses in the Hambleton and Richmondshire areas.
Jo Theakston from Black Sheep says its availability has now been extended into June, to include the Jubilee celebrations.