CONSIDERING its relatively small size, the village of Kilburn, near Thirsk, has an awful lot going for it.

There's the two obvious attractions, similar in fame but very different in stature – the towering White Horse cut into the hillside above, and the historic home of Robert Thompson's Mouseman furniture down in the heart of the village.

These would be more than enough for most rural communities these days, but not so in Kilburn, which also has a newly refurbished Village Institute complete with full wheelchair access and built-in bar, and the Forresters Arms pub and hotel.

This column last visited the Forresters during the dark days of Covid. Gutted by fire in 2019, it had reopened after a major refurbishment in October 2020 just two weeks before the second national closure order for pubs and restaurants.

When my fellow reviewer Malcolm Warne visited with his wife Sylvia, it was between the end of the November shutdown and the shift of North Yorkshire from Tier Two to Tier Three restrictions (remember those?). "A 'substantial meal' was available but the special atmosphere of a packed village pub on an evening in the run-up to Christmas was sorely lacking," reported Malcolm. "Simply a sign of the times."

Happily, almost three years later, when I called in for lunch with a friend, we did indeed find the bar area packed, and although the Christmas run-up is still (thankfully) a few weeks away, the atmosphere was incredibly upbeat.

We hadn't planned on eating at the Forresters, but our original choice of venue was shut, and as I was in the area for combined events involving a book launch about the White Horse, and Village Institute reopening, we ended up at the village pub by happy accident.

We were greeted warmly and offered one of only two free tables in the buzzing bar area – most of our fellow diners were tucking into good-sized main courses from the main menu, which offers plenty of pub classics, with my eye particularly drawn to the neighbouring table's fish and chips (£17.95), and sausage and mash (£14.95).

The Northern Echo: The dining area was quiet at the Forresters Arm - unlike the buzzing bar area

Because of our change of plans, were were a little short of time, so instead chose from the sandwich section, which will no doubt be popular with many of the walkers passing through on the nearby routes, or on their way to see the iconic horse.

I went for a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on white bread (£9.95) and my friend Victoria chose prawn Marie rose on white (£8.95). We shared a portion of chips, which were excellent – chunky, light and very tasty.

The Northern Echo: A lunchtime BLT at the Forresters Arms in Kilburn

The filling in my BLT was simple but very effective with plenty of crispy bacon and just the right amount of mustard mayo so as not to put the entire contents at risk of slithering out at any given time. Victoria rated her sandwich as excellent and described the plentiful prawns as "succulent".

The Northern Echo: The Prawn Marie Rose sandwich packed with succulent filling

We agreed the side garnish was a little uninspiring, but the quality of the sandwiches more than made up for it.

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With a soft drink each, the bill came to £26.90, which felt like good value, especially in such smart surroundings. Four years on from the devastating fire which necessitated the wholesale revamp, the decor and furnishings look as good as new – the board outside the front door welcoming customers from "Neil, Gemma and Freya" is a lovely touch, and we did, indeed feel very welcome. Service throughout was speedy, professional, and friendly.

We were a little sad we didn't have more time to spend over lunch and soak up the atmosphere. While the Covid lockdowns maybe a thing of the past, the hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by the recent economic woes, so it was wonderful to see a country pub so busy on a Friday lunchtime. Long may it continue.

The Forresters Arms

The Square, Kilburn, North Yorkshire, YO61 4AH

01904 947570

Serving food 12pm-8.30pm, Monday to Thursday, 12pm-9pm Friday and Saturday, and 12pm-6pm Sundays

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8 Service 8 Surroundings 8 Value 8