LAURA KNOWLSON and family test out The Bay Tree at Stillington

The Northern Echo: The Roast Rib of Beef with accompanying side dishes

THE Best Pub in Yorkshire is quite a title to have, and one that The Bay Tree in Stillington can boast thanks to the success of its young owners who took the accolade last month at this year's White Rose Tourism Awards.

Just two years after reopening the doors to not only their first pub, but their first business venture, 26-year-old local lass Harri Scott and partner Ed Allen have clearly found the right recipe for an award-winning pub. But what have they done to stand The Bay Tree apart as the best in Yorkshire?

Harri and Ed have perfectly blended together an affordable yet elegant British menu, with a reliable yet adventurous drinks offering for its locals, including a gin lovers' paradise, with a menu that Harri herself has grown from an offering of just eight, to an ever-growing list which currently stands at more than 100.

The layout of the pub also lends itself to both a drinking and dining trade, with the restaurant in a canopy ceilinged extension at the back, and the bar itself split into two areas with rustic tables offering comfort for drinkers and a less formal area for diners. A cosy secluded snug with armchairs, sofas and a stove add another option.

We decided the best way to judge The Bay Tree for ourselves was to try a pub classic – the Sunday dinner.

With the pub closed on Mondays and Tuesdays I rang on the Wednesday of the week we planned to visit to book a table, at which time the restaurant was already full, so booking is definitely advisable unless you are happy to chance it for a table in the bar, which was where we were booked to eat.

Sunday dinners are served between 12pm and 4pm with last orders taken at 3.45pm. With an 18-month-old child, our visit was planned around nap times, so we asked for a post-afternoon sleep table at 3.30pm.

I'm sure other parents will sympathise that no matter how well plans are made, keeping to a timescale with little ones is a hard task, and one which over a year in we are yet to conquer. We arrived at The Bay Tree just before 3.40pm (less than ten minutes late is actually progress for us!), and as we burst through the door in rushed flurry we were immediately made to feel calm as our apologies were brushed off and the waitress showed us to a table in the restaurant, which now had space available.

The Sunday dinner offering comes in the form of a set menu priced a £14 for one course, £18 for two or £22 for three, with eight options for both starters and mains and six for desserts. Children could choose a smaller variation of any of the mains for £6.

To start, I opted for the Bay Tree black pudding, stilton, pear and bacon salad, while my husband chose roasted tomato soup.

The salad was a wonderfully chunky affair with a moist yet crumbly block of well-seasoned black pudding, snuggled up against a hearty wedge of Stilton, which together propped up a snap-in-half crispy streak of bacon, all a top mixed leaves and perfectly sweet slices of pear.

The soup was rich and creamy, and passed my basic test of any soup starter – it was served with warm bread.

For our mains we both plumped for roasts, I had Rib of beef, which incurred a £1 supplement, and my husband chose lamb. Both were served with a well-risen, perfectly crispy Yorkshire pudding, cabbage, carrots and roast potatoes, which were exactly as they should be – crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. If I was being exceptionally fussy I would have pointed out I only had one carrot, however I appreciated we were the last of the day's servings, and the shortage of carrots was more than compensated for by the additional side vegetables. Served with the roasts was a small pan of rich and hearty braised cabbage, an absolute favourite of mine, and a baked dish of cheesy leaks. We were also brought a little pot of extra gravy without even having to ask.

Our son had a children's sized battered haddock, chips and peas which seemed to go down well.

Bursting at the seams we decided to share a dessert and opted for the lemon posset, fruit compote and brandy snap. At this point, having already had two courses, we were the last table, and well beyond the 4pm time slot. However our waitress didn't bat an eye, at no point did she make us feel rushed, she was happy to engage in conversation with us and tell us more about the pub, and even made a fuss of the little one, despite the fact he had left a sprinkling of peas all over the floor and mashed chips into the table.

The dessert followed suit from the rest of the meal with a well balanced mix of flavours, in this case sweet and sharpness sitting hand in hand in a small pot just big enough to fill the final spot.

The Bay Tree's Sunday dinner was among the best I have had, far better than what can be cooked at home, but in a less formal and more relaxed environment than a restaurant. We both vowed we'd be back childless next time to try the evening menu, and make a start on the 100-plus gin menu.

The Bay Tree, Stillington

T: 01347 811394


Ratings: (out of ten)

Food: 8

Service: 10

Ambience: 7

Value: 8