A few weeks ago we were watching Tommy Banks on the Great British Menu which reminded us we’d been wanting to visit his restaurant, Black Swan at Oldstead for a while. After making a quick phone call, we were really lucky to get a reservation that evening! Previous attempts at booking at short notice had failed so we were really excited we’d managed to get in.
Being a Michelin star restaurant and after visiting The Box Tree in Ilkley (also Michelin star) expectations were high! Getting to the Black Swan makes for interesting travelling, its remote village location along lots of narrow windy roads, mixed with bad weather made for interesting driving.
On arrival and after a short walk from the car park, we were a little unsure whether we had the right building. Yet upon entering the quaint cottage like building we were greeted by the friendly staff who showed us to a seat in the bar area, by a roaring open fire.
Our drinks orders were taken while we perused an impressive sounding tasting menu and the staff politely checked we had no dietary requirements or allergies. the menu consisted of 13 different dishes with an optional cheese course before the dessert courses.
First on the tasting menu was a selection of canapes which we were served in the bar; pearl barley with ox tongue and smoked eel with apple. Each dish was described in detail by the staff who made even eel sound the most delicious dish in the world.
Both were amazing, but for me, the ox tongue was the most delicious of the 2 ‘snacks’ as named by the staff. All the flavours here seemed to combine so well.
Next up was Langoustine taco, which came beautifully presented. At this point the level of detail that had gone into the dishes was clear, shown in the way even the plates had been hand selected to match the dishes. This later became evident throughout the evening.
The textures in this delicious morsel were delicate but with a lot of flavour, through what I can only describe as careful food craftsmanship.
After we’d indulged in the appetisers we were shown to one of the cosy dining areas on the first floor.
The setting had the feel of a intimate cottage dining room, with the warmth of candle light and a minimalistic table setting, it left the for the focus to be purely on the food.
The staff were very attentive, topping up our wine and water glassed as the next dish was introduced.
A small chicken dumpling arrived, which was one of my favourites of the evening. The theme of carefully selected plates and crockery continued and I felt this dish had an almost Japanesse, classic English fusion twist. The steamed texture of the dumpling was light, with a delectable chicken filling.
Next up was another divine morsel; raw Galloway beef with pickled mustard seeds and crispy kale. Sam is a huge fan of dishes such as steak tartare, so this was one of her favourites of the evening. The twist on the classic french dish, created a luxurious, melt in the mouth taste, with light seasonings from the pickled mustard seeds to enrich the dish.
Next on the menu was another of my favourites. Sour bread and sour butter made with 2 year old sheep’s milk. It was absolutely delicious, I couldn’t help but spreading it on quite liberally! I’m treating this as a course in its own right as its that good! Bread and butter may have been a diet staple 100 years ago, yet good home baked bread is something i’m always excited to try in any restaurant.
As if the food couldn’t get any better, we were then served Craupaudine beetroot confit in beef fat. It was a refreshing change to see the chefs had expressed their culinary talents on by creating this simple dish, without the use of expensive meat or fish and showcasing the best in local (vegetarian) produce.
Next came 2 fish courses; Scallop with celeriac and spruce (cooked two ways, the first a pan fried scallop and the second a scallop ceviche) followed by Halibut with razor clam and lettuce.
The scallop was so good, the delicate flavour of the spruce complimented it well and the ceviche was light and well balanced.
Each dish just seemed to get better. The Halibut was soft and flaky in texture with a crispy pan fried skin. I’d never tried razor clams before and was a little unsure what to expect or the how much of a seafood flavour these would have. Yet again I was pleasantly surprised by their subtle taste and although i was expecting a tough texture, found them again light an delectable.
The fish courses were followed by lamb (served with fermented turnip and mint), again another of my favourites from the menu. I would probably treat this as the “main course” as such, but throughout the evening each dish held it’s own, showcasing great talent from the chefs and great British produce. The lamb was cooked pink and melted in the mouth, even Sam who “claims” she doesn’t like lamb, dived right into the dish and cleared her plate.
There is an optional cheese course, an additional £15 per person, which we couldn’t resist taking up. Whats another course anyway in a 12 course menu and everyone needs a bit of cheese in there life! The course conveyed a variety of cheeses with a mix of hard and soft and of course no cheese board is complete with out a bit of the blue stuff.
With the end in sight, we were served palette cleansing ‘lolly pops’. Going from savoury to sweet left to right, even though the flavours of the celery one were a bit unusual but scrumptious nevertheless and added a quirky touch to the evening of fine dining.
Next up was hay infused custard with raspberries. Since I’ve started dining out more and more (myself and Sam once unashamedly ate out 6 nights in a row, plus no forgetting the time we had a 3 course lunch and dinner… and i wonder why I need the gym) I’ve noticed food trends appearing. All I can say is watch this space for “Hay” becoming the next big flavour to hit your plates.
To round off the evening, we were saved cake made from acorn, chicory root and lovage. The flavours here were interesting, given I’ve literally no clue what lovage even is i couldn’t say if it was good or bad. What I can say, is I know my desserts and even after a mammoth 12 courses my mouth still watered and i finished every last bite.
As you can imagine, it’s not a cheap restaurant to dine at. But what you will get is some very imaginative and interesting dishes of the highest quality in a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere. For the two of, the tasting menu cost £200 including the optional cheese course, then drinks and wine on top. It’s certainly a restaurant I’d re-visit. You can check out Black Swan for more information or to make a booking.
Have you been to Black Swan before? What did you think, let me know by leaving me a comment.