Downton Abbey meets gourmet retreat at Yorkshire’s gorgeous Swinton Park Hotel.
Bounding through King’s Cross Station on a Monday morning and boarding the Grand Central train was unbelievably exciting to this firmly city central journalist. I simply could not wait to get some Yorkshire air in my lungs as the train pulled its way into the chocolate-box town that is Thirsk, as all I could see for miles were the country cottages and sweeping moors that surround the stunning estate that was to be home for the night, Swinton Park Hotel.
Arriving at this Downton Abbey-esque estate with its turreted building, grey stone arch and sprawling green lawns was just the start of what would be an awe-inspiring stay. A brief tour of this gorgeous renovated stately home showed a rich ancestral history and thoughtful design behind each lavish corner. I had to pinch myself upon entering the huge bedroom I was to stay in, with curtained bed, plush sofa and an all too appealing bottle of bubbly left not so subtly on the coffee table, but a six-course dinner at onsite restaurant Samuel’s was calling at an ever-increasing volume.
The signature tasting menu started with an incredibly smooth smoked onion purée, which was like a log fire in a bowl to taste, and brought about that sense of cosiness and nostalgia of snuggling up in front of the crackling fireplace.
Next came a poached cod with white beans and chorizo, which was delicately cooked and had a lovely subtle spice to it. Then came a slow cooked egg with leeks and truffle. The soft egg oozed into the purée creating a sort of soup that was perfectly balanced and utterly luxurious. My only concern was that it was only course three and the richness of the dish was creating a fullness that was worrying considering the meal was only half done.
The main event was a pull apart tender pork loin and cheek with sweet quince and a sticky madeira sauce, an unbelievably good dish that was a symphony of flavour and texture. For a cheese course was a light goats cheese dish with beetroot sorbet, a vegetable that has unfortunately never appealed to me, but the soft cheese saved it with its delicious sharp flavour and decadent smoothness.
The highlight of the meal was the tangy deconstructed lemon meringue pie, a flat disc of crisp sweet meringue a top a dish of citrusy lemon sorbet rounded off the meal as the perfect palette cleanser.
Th tasting menu has an optional wine pairing that I can confirm has been designed perfectly to compliment each dish. It was with great satisfaction that I ambled my way up to the much awaited bed piled high with pillows. And yes, I do confess the champagne was gone by morning…
For more information visit swintonpark.com