North Yorkshire restaurant guide - The Coachman Inn, Snainton

Good food and good service never go out of style as The Coachman Inn at Snainton proves, says Tony Greenway

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How about this for staying power? The Coachman Inn, at Snainton, nearPickering, has been serving the people of Yorkshire since 1776. Back then it was a coaching inn – the last staging post on the road from York to Scarborough; and it quickly developed a reputation for good hospitality, food and refreshments.

Fast forward two-and-a-bit centuries and the coaches have gone, but  some things never change.

Now owned by the Taylor family, the Coachman Inn retains its ultra- friendly atmosphere and offers a menu that’s as innovative as it is delicious.

I arrived for lunch and had a drink in the charming bar - all hunting memorabilia and Arts and Crafts furniture - while I chose from the menu.This was more difficult than it sounds.

The team at the Coachman have taken some old favourites, Whitby  scampi for instance, and locally produced pork sausages, and given them a culinary twist, all served with seasonal vegetables.

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It makes the simple act of choosing a real dilemma. Afterwards I was led through to the comfortable yet elegant Carriages restaurant, with its wooden floors, Georgian sage-green walls, big wooden dresser and hanging tapestry. Carriages has an AA Rosette Award for culinary excellence, and all its produce is sourced fresh daily and prepared by head chef Calvin Porter and his team.

To start, I’d chosen the smoked haddock, curried risotto and poached egg, which was a dream on a plate: almost too good for a lunch dish (notthat I was complaining). The curry flavour of the light risotto was strongbut beautifully balanced with the smoky haddock, while the poached egg was a bright yellow sun. It was difficult to see how this simple starter could be topped.

But then came the pan-roast chicken with fondant potato, wild mushroomand a tarragon jus.

The aniseed flavour of the tarragon melted into the expertly arrangedmedallions of chicken, while the tang of the sweet and sticky red cabbage worked wonderfully well with the texture of the mushrooms and the whipped potato.

I’d been expertly waited on by general manager Victoria Allen, who came forth brandishing a dessert menu which, by this time, I didn’t need but was aching to try.

Again, it was a difficult choice, but my eye was drawn to the classic cr�mebrul�e with shortbread and berry compote. That said, the homemade icecream looked good as did the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce.

What would Victoria recommend?  ‘The hot chocolate fondant, pistachio ice cream and chocolate crackling,’ she said without a moment’s  hesitation. ‘I could just devour those.’

So here’s a tip: when you visit the Coachman take Victoria’s advice, because she was absolutely spot on.

The hot chocolate fondant was quite the best lunchtime dessert this side of Scarborough. Breaking my spoon through the velvety outer-coating, hot dark chocolate oozed out, making a fantastic contrast with the cold of the homemade pistachio ice-cream.

Two hundred and thirty-five years after it first opened, the Coachman Inn is still going strong.

Now I know why. Good food and good service never go out of style.

The Coachman Inn, Pickering Road West, Snainton, North YorkshireYO13 9PL. 01723 859231

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