January 28 2011
The gently undulating Hambleton Hills in North Yorkshire are a beautiful and timeless landscape of deep green valleys and woods and pretty greystone villages; among them is Crayke, which is no more than a 30-minute drive from York Minster. Here the village inn, The Durham Ox, is a wonderfully smart but welcoming gastropub much loved by racegoers staying in the area for York races during the summer. I first went there after backing the winner of the Ebor Handicap more than 30 years ago.
Now that one of my sons is a student at York University, I no longer need the races as an excuse to go back. The pub’s deep red walls, dark wooden beams and flagstone floors create a warm and inviting ambience and, on a bitterly cold winter’s day just before Christmas, there were log fires blazing in both bars.
The food is fresh, filling and delicious and the winter menu includes suitably robust dishes such as lamb shanks and locally shot partridge and pheasant; there’s also fish from Whitby, such as black bream with coriander, ginger and lemongrass, and monkfish stew with chorizo. There are traditional desserts, too, including a mighty ginger pudding, which may encourage you to take a walk around the peaceful Crayke estate after lunch. Or, if you prefer something wilder, the North Yorkshire Moors are only 10 miles away.
Starters, £5-£7; main courses, £10-£18; desserts, £5-£6.