THERE’S been a pub in the village of Bagby, near Thirsk, since the 1700s but I think it is fair to say it has never made much of a name for itself.

In a past life, 30 or more years ago, I spent four months living in the village and in that time never darkened its doors. Nobody did.

More recently the Greyhound’s history has been somewhat chequered, including periods when it has been closed. A name change to the Bagby Inn failed to reverse its fortunes.

But 18 months ago it changed hands again. Fettah Alkoc and Laz Bilgin purchased the freehold and set about the mother of all transformations.

The slightly down-at-heel traditional pub interior was turned into something which is only just recognisable as a pub. The squeaky-clean refurbishment has created a front bar where drinkers and diners are equally welcome and also a more formal restaurant to the rear.

The modish interior will improve with time. At the moment it seems almost a bit too new.

In a nod to its history the new owners have restored the name. The Greyhound at Bagby is no doubt how locals would prefer it to be and it helps to differentiate it from the other Greyhounds running in North Yorkshire.

But the most interesting thing about the re-styled Greyhound is a menu littered with Turkish dishes – which is not generally the sort of thing one stumbles across in rural North Yorkshire.

Having said there was time maybe ten years ago when the White Horse Lodge just a couple of miles away on the road to Sutton Bank switched to Turkish fare – an experiment which didn’t last the course.

It was a pleasant surprise because we’re fans. My enthusiasm dates back to 1970s student life in London where I first tasted Turkish food in an imaginatively-named Formica-topped-tabled hovel on the Fulham Road called Wine and Kebab. A couple of quid brought one as much meze as you could be squeezed on to a table or you could eat and a carafe of God-knows-what which after the third glass tasted just fine. Happy days.

What makes Turkish food so appealing is its simplicity, the freshness of the basic ingredients and the charcoal grill.

Had we not wanted to eat Turkish, there is plenty of traditional pub fare options available among the mains (fish pie, lamb shank, gammon, steaks etc).

We started with the hot meze selection (there’s also a cold selection) for £14.50. That’s seven small dishes which was more than enough for two and probably would have satisfied three.

The highlights were the Sakuk – char-grilled spicy Turkish beef sausage – Arnavut Cigeri ¬– cumin flavoured lamb liver sautéed in butter with caramelised red onion – and Sigara Boregi – deep-fried filo pastry parcels packed with spinach and feta cheese. The basket of pide bread was excellent too.

Sylvia’s main course choice was the essence of Turkish cooking – chargrilled marinated chicken skewers served with rice, salad and a yoghurt dip (£13.95). Chicken cooked so simply doesn’t get more succulent than this.

I’d opted for something that sounded very grand. Ali Nazik (£14.50) is named after the famous Ottoman chef of that name who created it for Sultan Selim in the 16th century. I am sure you are very impressed by my encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of Turkish cuisine but I’d best come clean and tell you that was gleaned from a rather long menu description.

It didn’t quite live up to the grandiose billing. The char-grilled marinated lamb fillets were not as tender as I imagined they would be but the smoked aubergine and yoghurt sauce was a great combo – the warm earthiness of the aubergine cut nicely by the clean coolness of the yoghurt.

The copious quantities of the meze starter ruled out desserts so we sat awhile and watched the place gradually fill up with a happy mix of drinkers and diners. Chef Fettah came out from the kitchen to talk to the diners and help his front-of-house business partner Laz who was very impressive in his most single-handed ability to pour pints, take orders, deliver them to diners, clear tables and take the money.

Which in our case was £53.35. That included a couple of half pints of San Miguel, a half of an Italian lager called Poretti and a small glass of a Turkish white wine which was considerably better than the Fulham Road firewater of 40 years ago.

We hope the Greyhound keeps on running and – after 300 years or so - makes a name for itself at last.


The Greyhound at Bagby, Main Street, Bagby, Thirsk, YO7 2PF


Tel: 01845 591433.

Open seven days: food served Monday to Saturday, noon to 3pm and 5.30 to 9pm, Sunday, noon to 5pm.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8, Service 7, Surroundings 8, Value 7