THERE'S no downstairs to our house at present.

Over the last few weeks we have gone from having a full working kitchen, to hobs and no cooker – it packed up in disgust the day after we pressed 'go' on the renovations – to just a microwave.

Ready meals are now the order of the day – every day...

For a family of five which loves its big dinners, pulling plastic off a non-descript box and blasting the contents to within an inch of their lives until a bell rings is not really the done thing. Even when it comes to 'convenience' eating we usually warm up something that my wife has cooked and frozen in advance.

So when the chap in charge of this column said the rota had come around to me, we ­– and our collective tastebuds – jumped at the chance.

Our remit was simple – country pub, good old fashioned English fare. Without hesitation my wife and I both said: "Bay Horse, Great Broughton".

I called on Friday, not exactly well in advance, but enough time I thought to have a range of times to choose from – Sunday can be a hectic time in our household. "We have one table left, 12pm okay?" Earlier than we would have liked, but clearly there were many others who had had the same thought as us.

The Bay Horse describes itself as 'an attractive and traditional-feel country inn' and it lives up to its billing. Some people's interpretation of traditional can in fact just mean a little tired and run down. Not so here, the exterior is clean and tidy, with plenty of cared for greenery going up to the entrance.

Open the door and you are met with a sign decreeing that Trudy and Simon wish you a warm welcome – it's a simple touch but in these days when people 'manage' rather than 'run' pubs it is nice to know just who is behind the bar.

The friendly welcome wasn't just for show, all of the staff appeared to have bought into the ethos, big smiles, kind words and prompt service the order of day.

We were shown to a large, almost heart-shaped table in the centre of the main dining area – there were cosier options around the pub, but this suited our party down to the ground. Still early, relatively speaking, it had yet to fill up, those that had opted for midday generally on the older side – no doubt preferring a little peace and quiet before the rush.

Unlike many places on a Sunday, the Bay Horse do not restrict diners to just beef, chicken or turkey – there's a pretty extensive selection to choose from – all priced at £14.99 for two courses, £3 more if you want to go the whole three course hog.

From the starters, we opted for savoury black pudding and spicy chorizo saladette and pressed chicken, apricot and tarragon terrine with warm ciabatta bread, the former crunchy, with just enough heat and incredibly sweet tomatoes, the latter meaty, packed with chicken and full of flavour. Both were equally as good to look at as they were to eat.

I'd chosen a pint of Hobgoblin Gold to accompany my meal and it served as a great palate cleanser before the arrival of the main course.

Despite being booked up, there was no suggestion from the staff that we needed to hurry along and we were allowed a decent amount of time between courses – only my seven-year-old, who had been playing football for two hours, questioning when his dinner would be coming.

Myself and my middle son – we are peas in a pod – went for traybaked mince and onion pie with shortcrust pastry, boys one and three going for roast chicken breast – one without gravy, why does he do that? – and my other half, roast silverside of beef.

All were plentiful, piping hot and served with an array of fresh vegetables – including to one son's delight lashings of 'creamy mash'.

By now the pub was humming, good, wholesome family conversations filling the air and staff rushing hither and thither, but despite this hive of activity, they still treated each table like they were the only ones they were serving.

There remained a small space set aside in our stomachs for dessert – refreshingly had we not been able to manage we were informed we could have taken them home to eat at our leisure. We were not in a rush, though, and chose warm chocolate fudge cake, home baked peach crumble and steamed jam sponge.

At £83.88 in total, it wasn't a cheap meal out – catering for five of us never is – but given the standard of the fare, the ambience and the fact we have another week to go before we can cook for ourselves again it was a price well worth paying.


The Bay Horse, 88 High Street, Great Broughton, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, TS9 7HA

Tel: 01642 712319 Web:

Open: Monday to Friday, lunch 11.30am-3pm (food 12pm til 2pm), evenings 5.30 pm to 11pm (food 5.30pm to 9pm); Saturday 11.30am to 11pm (food 12pm to 9.30pm); Sunday 12pm to 11pm (Sunday lunch 12pm to 4.30pm) (al la carte 5.30pm to 8.30pm)

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, service 9, surroundings 8, value 8