The restaurant with rooms
Set in a thickly wooded valley between Thirsk and Helmsley, Scawton is a hamlet with no more than a scattering of houses, a beautiful 12th-century church and the lovely Hare Inn, where Paul and Liz Jackson are doing something very special.
The couple arrived here in 2012 after running a pub near York. They had big plans; rather than provide the usual cheese and pickle sandwiches to passing walkers, they took the bold decision in this remote spot to serve dinner only from a no choice, multi-course, tasting menu of Paul’s intricately skilled and finely honed dishes. But if they were going to turn away the walkers and cyclists who were the passing trade in this lonely spot, they had to create a ‘destination’ restaurant with rooms to match.
This they have done with some panache. Not only do they present an innovative and exciting menu three evenings a week (Thursday-Saturday) but since the beginning, through holidays, days off and pandemics, they have set to work restoring this neglected old boozer, creating a warm, welcoming inn with four gorgeous bedrooms. Think beamed ceilings, exposed stone, copper baths, fancy toiletries and soft towels - the rooms are exceptional.
The culinary adventure begins in the cosy beamed dining room with a selection of snacks, maybe a cone of soft salmon mousse or a mini pastry case of their showcase Dexter beef. Follow this with a series of small, exquisite courses that might include seabass and razor clams in a mussel liquor; sweet summer tomatoes matched with local goats’ cheese; mackerel trailing clouds of smoke from a little black pot - Paul Jackson enjoys a bit of theatre. Duck confit is served alongside tender duck breast, followed by a palate cleanser of honeycomb, milk ice cream, mascarpone pearls topped with honey bubbles. There’s a shiny button of chocolate with hazelnut ice cream and finally to end this tour de force, raspberry sorbet, raspberry gel and a lemon geranium granita.
It’s no surprise to learn that the Hare at Scawton has gathered a loyal following and been garlanded with a raft of local and national awards and while it may have taken nine tough years for this ambitious, determined, indomitable couple to complete their project, the results are outstanding. So save up, pawn the children, hammer the credit card, whatever it takes, but book yourself in for dinner and a sleepover because this is one hare that’s going to keep on running.