ARRIVING at The Fat Abbot in the shadow of Escrick’s St Helen’s Church on a Sunday evening, we felt the portents were good for a heavenly dining experience.

The Gastro Pub, set in the grounds of The Parsonage Hotel & Spa, promises a friendly Yorkshire welcome on its website and, although the front entrance was puzzlingly locked when we arrived at 7.30pm, following a quick lap of the premises, we were indeed greeted warmly by the apologetic manager, who explained that a cold wind had been blowing through the secured door.

We were quickly shown to our table in the bright, modern and airy main restaurant area, while being handed a Sunday Roast set menu for one course (£10.95), two courses (£15.95) or three courses (£18.95), which seemed to represent good value, with the offers available from noon to 9pm.

Service was efficient throughout the night and we were quickly ordering our starters.

I opted for the Brie & Cranberry Tart and really enjoyed it.

Resembling a mini quiche, the tart had a nice bite to its pastry and the cheese was satisfyingly hot and gooey, while the cranberry and orange coulis gave the dish a fruity kick and the toasted chestnut salad was nice and fresh.

Nikki chose the Saute? of Chestnut Mushrooms.

The portion size, with a generous number of mushrooms, meant I was allowed to sample a couple of mouthfuls and I was impressed again.

Served on a crunchy-toasted ciabatta crouton, there was also a good serving of garlic cream, which provided the real flavour and boasted just the right level of consistency.

The chard, rocket salad and parmesan crisp complemented the rest of the plate well too.

With first impressions good, we had high hopes for our main courses.

There was a choice of four roasts – Beef, Pork, Lamb and Chicken – along with a Classic Fish Pie, Saute?ed Beetroot Gnocchi or Fish and Chips.

I decided on the Escrick Lamb Shoulder and the tenderness of the meat was very good, while the menu recommendation of washing it down with a glass of Cotes du Rhone also represented sound advice.

Otherwise, though, the rest of the plate was a bit of a disappointment.

The roast potatoes were over-sized and, as a consequence, not fully cooked and a little hard inside, while the stuffing was forgettable.

Maybe the biggest fault, though, was the shortage of redcurrant jus, when more was needed to pour over the giant Yorkshire Pudding.

Veg was better, although it would have been nice to have more of the tastily-roasted and glazed baby carrots and parsnips and less of the unappealing broccoli, although the cauliflower cheese was decent too.

Nikki selected the Topside of Yorkshire Beef.

She had the same complaints over the dryness of her Yorkshire Pudding, caused again by the sparseness of cask ale gravy on her plate.

The meat was also cooked pink, as specified, but was possibly a little too rare.

She was more pleased with her potatoes than I had been though.

For pudding, there were six choices and, happily, our meal returned to the standards it had set during our opening course.

I went for the Bread and Butter Pudding, which was excellent.

Juicy and fluffy, there was no dryness to the bread or fruit and it was soaked up perfectly by a hot and thick vanilla anglaise, with the added bonus of a scoop of high-quality blueberry ice cream.

My other half plumped for ‘Beer & Nuts’ Cre?me Bru?le?e and that was of a high standard too.

The crispiness of the top layer was perfect and did not sink into the cream, which is often the biggest error committed in relation to the popular dish.

Having had a spoonful myself, the alcohol was a subtle but inspired addition to the classic favourite, as were the chopped nuts.

An accompanying Amaretto biscuit, meanwhile, finished off the dish nicely.

We then retired for a coffee and relaxed in an adjacent area, where there were comfier chairs and sofas around an open fire, which disappointingly remained unlit.

Surely, if you have such a centre piece, you make use of it, especially on a night when there was snow on the ground outside and a draft blowing through that front door?

It would be wrong, though, to end this review without complimenting The Fat Abbot on the five-star quality of their stylish toilets.

A trip to the Gents was an unusually fragrant experience given the strong Vanilla aroma in the air.

Nikki, meanwhile, was a big fan of the bird wallpaper in the Ladies.

Our total bill, which included two glasses of wine, a Latte and a Cappuccino, came to £57.55, with the food alone costing £37.90.

The Fat Abbot

Phone: 01904 728782


Food: Let down by mains 3/5

Ambience: Light the fire please 3/5

Service: Pleasant 4/5

Value: Good 4/5

All reviews are independent, conducted anonymously and paid for by The Press.