Nigel Burton finds the view from The Bridge (Inn) is worthwhile as he travels to Grinton to test out the menu of the village’s pub restaurant

IF YOU’RE in a hurry it’s easy to miss the Bridge Inn. A former coaching inn that can trace its roots back more than 500 years, the Bridge Inn sits opposite the even older St Andrew’s Church – the so-called Cathedral of the Dales – in the small village of Grinton.

If you approach from Richmond , the pub is almost hidden by the way the road rises as it crosses the River Swale and, before you know it, you’re past it in a flash.

But looks can be deceptive and, viewed from the other side of the river, the Bridge Inn is actually rather large.

I’d seen it several times during leisurely drives this summer and made a mental note to give it a try. So, when the sun finally shone for a couple of glorious days earlier this month, we jumped in the car and headed for Swaledale .

When we arrived the large car park only had one other vehicle in it. Was this an ominous sign, I wondered. In the pub’s defence, we were a bit early and I hoped things would liven up a bit later.

My fears were allayed by the warm welcome we received from landlord, Andrew Atkins, who was working behind the wellstocked bar. Judging by the number of Camra award-winning guest ales, and the “house ale” Jennings Cumberland, I reckon the Bridge Inn would be an excellent stopping-off point for walkers in need of some refreshment.

As it was seasonably warm the large fireplace wasn’t lit, but it didn’t take much imagination to visualise how it would look on a chilly winter evening.

The children headed off down the steps to the right where a small room contains a pool table and dart board – so we followed suit.

Head chef John Scott takes his food very seriously and has a policy of sourcing as many of local ingredients as is possible.

The herbs are home-grown and there’s a small smokehouse.

The menu includes all the pub favourites, albeit with an unusual twist, such as the lamb and black pudding pasty, a Scotch egg that’s also made with black pud and the shortcrust pastry tart that’s filled with shallots, mature cheddar and stilton cheese.

I’M not usually a big fan of black pudding, but the Scotch egg sounded too good to miss. Apparently, it’s quite a trendy starter to have in several posh eateries in London. No doubt they charge rather more than £5.95 I paid for the privilege of finding out.

Black pudding is traditionally made from pork blood and oatmeal. The Bridge Inn rears its own pigs so the production process is kept completely in-house. The sausage meat is flavoured with sage and served on a rocket, Swaledale cheese and smoked bacon salad with a mustard dressing.

The slightly chewy texture of black pudding suits the Scotch egg – I preferred my sausagemeat to surround the egg when I bite into it and not to separate into two distinct entities. The earthy taste of the sage came through loud and clear. The salad, with its tasty cheese and bacon, was an excellent accompaniment and would have made an excellent starter on its own.

Jane opted for the goat’s cheese tart (£5.95), a caramelised red onion, beetroot and goat’s cheese tart with a watercress salad and sweet apple and plum relish. The creamy cheese and the salad were a perfect starter – good enough to want more, but not so filling as to ruin the main course.

As we were dining beside the river I opted for the intriguing cod in real ale and dill batter (£9.95). Jane ordered a trio of Swaledale lamb (£14.50) which consists of pan fried lamb cutlet, lamb and black pudding pasty and a lamb sausage, served with a red wine and rosemary jus.

I can’t swear to tasting the dill in my cod’s batter, but I can say that it was light and crispy. The batter had been cooked at just the right temperature to seal in the flavour of the fish. The grease-free chunky chips had an excellent texture and the traditional mushy pea accompaniment was the right side of mushy – I hate peas that turn into a kind of green slurry because they have been overdone.

The tender cuts of lamb came with a generous selection of vegetables and Jane reported that it melted in the mouth.

For dessert, Jane had lemon meringue – not your traditional pie but a lemon meringue ice cream shot through with strawberry sorbet and served with a glazed hazelnut biscuit (£5.25). I had the traditional pud of the day – in this case apple pie with ice-cream (also £5.25).

The lemon meringue was a revelation – light and tangy to the taste with the sweetness of the strawberry underlying the citrus of the lemon. It was the perfect way to end the meal.

And what can you say about apple pie and ice-cream? Well, the apples were sweet, but not sickly, and it tasted divine with melted ice-cream. With that lot tucked away, I reckon our long overdue visit to the Bridge Inn had been a resounding success.

The service, too, was very good. Our waitress was pleasant and attentive, with a ready smile and an efficient manner.

When we left, I noticed that the pub car park was filled to capacity. Clearly, the locals know when they are on to a good thing – and I reckon you will, too.

Food facts

The Bridge Inn, Grinton, 11 miles west of Richmond on the B6270 Tel: 01748-884224 website:

Opening hours: noon to 9pm for serving food

Food: 4/5

Service:  4/5

Ambience: 4/5

Value-for-money: 4/5