Thursday, 6 November 2014

the black swan - helmsley

After visiting Southampton last week we travelled back up north via Helmsley a market town in North Yorkshire where we stayed for two luxurious nights at The Black Swan.  This hotel overlooks the market square and along with enjoying the wonderful setting and lovely autumnal weather we devoured lots of delicious food and visited nearby tourist spots.
Our stay at the hotel began with a scrumptious champagne afternoon tea in the Tea Room.  There was far too much to eat, but we made a really good attempt at it and the waiter kindly boxed up the leftovers for us. The savoury elements of the afternoon tea consisted of a variety of sandwiches: egg, smoked salmon, ham and cheese on a range of breads.  From the patisserie I particularly enjoyed the strawberry tarts with their delightfully crispy pastry (no soggy bottoms) and also the lemon posset, with raspberry coulis and raspberry, which was sharp and refreshing after our clotted cream and jam scones.

We then had a three course evening meal in The Garden Room and complimentary drinks were given when we had to wait a little too long between our starters and main courses.  I had the Sea Bass and Fennel for my main

The next day we enjoyed a leisurely trip to Scarborough (that's another post) before getting to grips with a six course tasting menu on the second evening.  I didn't manage to get a photo of the Amuse Bouche, but feast your eyes on the rest of the courses.  I forget what they all were (and the menu has changed on the website) but I'll try to name those that I can...
Scallops with black pudding and ginger cake (our favourite savoury course)
Beetroot three ways with goats cheese
Pressing of Yorkshire ham hock
Braised feather of beef with pomme puree, wild mushrooms kale and shallot jus
Pre-dessert -  a delicious creamy popcorn 'espuma' confection 
with a nugget of caramel hidden at the bottom.
A lovely lemon dessert with sorbet, soft meringue and lemon cream.

As if that wasn't enough we then had petit fours with our coffee: chocolate fudge, mini raspberry macarons and papaya jellies (at least I think that's what they were).  The scene was fast becoming reminiscent of Mr Creosote's 'wafer thin mint'!

And the next morning a thoughtful departure gift, water and fruit for the journey home.

The Black Swan is a delightful place to visit. It is fairly pricey but the service is second to none, the rooms are beautifully comfortable and the bathrooms are stocked with Molton Brown toiletries.

This visit was our second to the hotel and I am sure we'll be back.

If I am allowed one quibble about The Black Swan though, it would be that the The Gallery dining room and The Garden Room were both dimly lit which is such a shame as it prevented me from being able to fully appreciate the presentation of the dishes.

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