The traditional country pub with fine dining
Marcus Boxshall-Smith and his wife Kirsty first saw The Eskdale nine years ago: “We had our second date in the beer garden!” Back then it was a traditional old boozer, complete with swirly carpets and yellow ceilings and not much in the way of a menu. They went on to do other things but when the sorry old place came onto the market in 2019, they knew it was the right time to make their move. They had a five-month refurbishment plan – but then the pandemic struck and five months turned into thirteen. “It wasn’t what we’d envisaged, but in the end it enabled us to do a really thorough job” says Marcus.
And a really smart pub they’ve created. Choose from two places to eat: Restaurant 1865, a stylish but relaxed room offering a five or seven-course tasting menu, or the comfortable bar with its calm colour palette, polished wood floors and sofas in front of a wood stove for chilly days.
The bar menu – short and sweet – includes the likes of Yorkshire pigeon with beetroot, endive and walnut and Whitby crab with tomato, wasabi and a squid cracker. Mains might feature Yorkshire hogget and line-caught cod with asparagus and cockles. Choosing your dessert might be tricky with the likes of pear soufflé with ginger ice cream and chocolate sauce, and warm damson and plum tart with almond crumble and lemon verbena ice cream on offer.
There’s a good looking lunch menu too – try the Eskdale burger with triple cooked chips or a roast beef and horseradish sandwich. On a good day, head outside to the beer garden for an al fresco lunch with just birdsong for company; the riverside location is lovely, set quietly in a dip in the lush countryside, with walks from the door.
Head Chef Murray Wilson is a founding member of the team; he studied with Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s and earned his stripes at Rudding Park’s Horto, Harrogate’s Norse and the Yorke Arms via some show called Masterchef. He’s keen to bring a sat-back fine dining experience to the pub, and showcase the best produce of the North York Moors National Park to its absolute best; he works with the Camphill Village Trust who supply most of the veg.
Marcus and Kirsty are keen to establish partnerships locally; they sponsor the Esk Valley theatre company, and you can have an early bird dinner prior to an evening’s performance. There’s a pub quiz on Sunday nights: “We very much want to be part of the community – pub as hub at the same time as a fine dining destination” says Marcus.