MAXINE GORDON enjoys dinner at one of the loveliest villages around

THERE has been an inn on the site of The Fauconberg Arms in Coxwold since the 17th century.

My first visit was not quite so long ago - a few years back when I visited for an assignment for The Press.

The village had just been voted the loveliest in the land - and me and photographer Matt Clark were dispatched to find out why.

It wasn't hard to discover the reasons. Snuggled in the North York Moors National Park and mentioned in the Domesday book, Coxwold wears its history with an easy charm. The pub is named after the Earl of Fauconberg and owned by the Newburgh Priory Estate - the village and estate were given to the Fauconberg family by Henry VIII.

Visitors also come to call at Shandy Hall, former home of writer Laurence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy. Its gardens are open at present but the house remains closed because of social distancing restrictions.

The Fauconberg appears to be the beating heart of the village - handsomely and invitingly sitting half way up the main road on a steep incline.

York Press:

The Fauconberg, Coxwold

During lockdown, its takeaway service and shop (in the garden behind the pub) provided a vital service to villagers.

Thank you cards from villagers grateful for the service the pub provided during those challenging months are displayed in the deep window sills of the inn.

We visited the Fauconberg on a mini break from York. Like millions of other Brits this year, we decided on a staycation.

Days out and the odd night away replaced any hopes of getting a week in the Med. Which brought us to Coxwold.

The inn offers swanky rooms for the night, but also a glamping option in the shape of a wooden garden hut with veranda and outside loo and shower.

Before you could say 'getting away from it all' I had booked the 'garden room' for a one-night stay (£75 for b&b) and reserved a table for dinner in the restaurant.

To make it even more of an adventure, my husband and I decided to cycle to Coxwold from our home in York. A confession. I am no Laura Trott - I have an electric bike, which made my 26-mile cycle to Coxwold, via Skelton, Newton on Ouse and Easingwold a lot easier than my husband's who was on his road bike.

We arrived around 6.30pm, checked into our room, or rather hut, for the night then headed to the bar for a well-earned drink: a G&T for me and a pint of lager for my husband.

Originally, we'd reserved a table outside but it was a bit chilly, so moved inside to the cosy bar.

We studied the menu and specials board as we sipped our drinks. There was an enticing selection of hearty, British fare – just what we fancied after a day in the saddle.

Starters choices included prawn cocktail, chicken liver pate, crispy whitebait or goat’s cheese bruschetta or, from the special’s board, sweet potato soup, moules mariniere or duo of salmon, all priced from £6-£6.95.

York Press:

Salmon starter at The Fauconberg

I chose the latter and was delighted with my selection. It was one of the best starters I’d tasted as a reviewer. It was worth every pedal of the 26-mile cycle ride just to savour the platter of sweet and smoky fish lovingly dressed with a sharp and slightly spiced lime and chilli mayonnaise and pieces of pickled cucumber. Nick tucked in too and wholeheartedly agreed with my verdict. A fantastic start.

Happily, the meal continued in that vein.

From the main menu, Nick considered the fish and chips or the steak and chips, but couldn’t resist the lure of “the Famous Fauconberg Steak and Ale pie” with chips, peas and gravy (£12.50).

Veggie and vegan options are available too including home-made pizzas (Thursday is curry night).

The pie certainly lived up to its billing. We concluded it was “famous” for a reason… for being fantastic. It was hard to decide which was the highlight: the tender beef coated in a thick, glossy gravy, or the delicious pie crust that was so short it melted in the mouth almost as instantly as the beef. Another winner.

Could we strike it lucky again with my main – the ‘Catch of the day’ from the special’s board (£16.50)?

York Press:

Catch of the day at The Fauconberg

Well, yes. The baked cod which came with new potatoes, cherry tomatoes, chorizo, and samphire was a lovely, well-balanced meal. The fish was perfectly cooked and its simple flavour profile jazzed up by the sweet tomatoes, salty samphire and meaty, spicy bite from the chorizo.

The Fauconberg hadn’t put a foot wrong. Would the winning streak continue as he headed into the final straight and on to the dessert menu?

The sticky toffee pudding with ice-cream (£5.50) didn't let the side down. Dark, rich and gooey, it was just what you expect from a STP - and the ice-cream was the perfect play mate.

We finished with coffees - then retired to our bed for the night - hoping we'd have room for our English breakfast in the morning. (We did).

The Fauconberg, Coxwold YO61 4AD


T: 01347 868214

Food: Fab 4.5/5

Ambience: Cosy: 5/5

Service: Super 5/5

Value: Great 4.5/5

Reviews are independent and all meals paid for by The Press

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