Yorkshire Life Luncheon - The Dunsforth, North Yorkshire

Yorkshire Life lunch at The Dunsforth in Lower Dunsforth

Yorkshire Life lunch at The Dunsforth in Lower Dunsforth - Credit: Archant

Guests join us for a sun-drenched seasonal celebration at The Dunsforth

Magdalene, Janine, Paul and George Cunliffe

Magdalene, Janine, Paul and George Cunliffe - Credit: Archant

Nothing says summer like a French martini – complete with prettily bobbing raspberries – served on a sun-bathed patio of a picture-perfect restaurant. And as a taste of what’s on The Dunsforth’s summer menu, which combines cocktails with seasonal dishes, it provides a delicious hint at the delights to come.

The restaurant in Lower Dunsforth, five miles east of Boroughbridge, is now light, bright and welcoming, but it was not quite so appealing a year ago when Paul and Janine Cunliffe took it over.

‘It was just a rundown pub that was only open for a couple of hours a day,’ said Paul, former head chef at Harvey Nichols in Leeds. ‘I wanted it to remain a pub, but with that added extra something. I wanted to create a food destination; somewhere people would be willing to travel to for great food in a relaxed setting.’

The transformation from down-at-heel pub to must-visit restaurant took 13 weeks and the best part of £100,000, but changing the look was only half the battle. The talented chef patron – a former quarter-finalist on BBC’s Master Chef the Professionals 2012 – had to create a new and unique menu from scratch that both reflected his own foodie personality and attracted the widest possible audience.

Paul Antony Cunliffe

Paul Antony Cunliffe - Credit: Archant

‘The food is classically modern,’ he said. ‘That might sound like a contradiction, but I’m classically trained and I like to embrace modern ideas. I believe that food should be filling, tasty and enjoyable. If we do a pie it will be an absolutely cracking pie, not just a dish with a bit of pastry on top.’

His talented kitchen brigade certainly pulled out all the stops to create a quality yet accessible lunch for our guests, starting with soft, juicy slices of Wagyu beef on a piquant warm salad (the crunchy mooli was a particular treat).

Next came gin-cured salmon with beetroot; a beautifully presented dish decorated with delicate edible flowers – a nod to nature that proved something of a motif throughout the entire meal.

Our main was a deeply flavoured rectangular prism of prime Yorkshire belly pork from Anna’s Happy Trotters in Howden accompanied by a perfectly-cooked fondant potato (soft on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside) and seasonal vegetables.

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And, for pudding, we were treated to a tasting plate of strawberries – the quintessential summer fruit – served in all manner of clever ways, from a sweet yet pleasantly sharp sorbet to an arlette pastry, which combined the fabulous flakiness of a millfeuille with the cloudlike ethereality of meringue.

It was, to quote the chef, absolutely cracking – and a particularly apt first anniversary celebration for Paul, his wife Janine and their children Magdalene, two, and George, five weeks (who all attended our lunch).

‘This is a real family business for us,’ said Paul. ‘We’ve sold our house in Bradford and have moved up north. This is who we are now.’

Next on the family’s to-do list are four boutique rooms, so patrons can make a weekend of it or just stay overnight as a midweek treat.

‘It’s a big project and a big investment but the rooms will add a new dimension to what we offer,’ said Paul, who runs the pub with business partners who specialise in property development. Work is scheduled to start on the first floor accommodation later this year. In the meantime, customers are being invited to try The Dunsforth’s specially designed summer menu.

‘Our new seasonal menu gives people the chance to enjoy two courses and a summer cocktail,’ said front-of-house manager Rachael Howe. ‘I’d recommend a French martini (Chambord raspberry liqueur, vodka, pineapple juice and fresh raspberries) as it’s something quite sweet that everyone can enjoy.’ n

Contact: The Dunsforth, Lower Dunsforth, North Yorkshire, YO26 9SA, 01423 320700 or visit www.thedunsforth.co.uk.


Yorkshire Wagyu beef carpaccio with a warm salad of spiced carrot, mooli, baby apple, quinoa and summer flowers

Beetroot and gin-cured salmon with grapefruit, avocado, borage and cucumber

Anna’s Happy Trotters’ belly pork with Yorkshire asparagus, fondant potato, baked carrot and apple

Taste of Yorkshire strawberry with apple blossom, meringue, sorbet, arlette pastry and brulee custard

Wine notes

Carmen Merlot Reserva 2012: this clean, ripe wine has an appealing nose of blackberries, confectionery, kalamata olives and white pepper with fine-grained, well-integrated tannins. It has a soft bouquet and displays elegance, balance and vivid flavours. A perfect choice for poultry and game meats.

Gerard Bertrand, Naturalys Chardonnay 2013: bright yellow with green tints, this white is full of fruits (peach and grapefruit in particular). The palate is smooth with subtle notes of vanilla and blossom, making it a great choice to serve with fish or mature cheeses.

Il Pumo Primitivo IGP Puglia 2012: an intense, full-flavoured red with notes of prunes and cherry combined with rosemary and vanilla. This is a soft, balanced wine that’s eminently drinkable with grilled and roasted meats.

Peter Lehmann, Princess Moscato 2012: the fruit for this pale pink, low alcohol (five per cent) wine is picked early, crushed, chilled and the juice separated immediately from the skins to enhance delicacy. It has a delightful aroma redolent of freshly-squeezed grapes and has a zippy, effervescent palate with a touch of delicious natural sweetness.

Wines provided by Hallgarten Druitt. For more information, visit hallgartendruitt.co.uk or call 01582 722538.

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