Food review - The Plough, Scalby

The halibut was a generous portion cooked to perfection Photo: David Chalmers

The halibut was a generous portion cooked to perfection Photo: David Chalmers - Credit: Archant

There is much to admire about the food and atmosphere at The Plough, Scalby, says Jeannie Swales

Scalby is a chocolate-box pretty village on the northern edge of Scarborough. Grey stone terraced cottages sit alongside some impressive detached private homes and right in the centre of the village, on a high street blessed with a proper old-school village shop, is the handsome red-brick Plough.

It’s run by HQ Hospitality, so is part of the empire of Scalby resident Nick Thomas. The name might not ring any bells, but his work will. Thomas is a long-standing fixture near the top of The Stage’s annual Stage 100 list of the most influential people in British theatre and he runs Christmas pantomimes nationwide through the other arm of his business, Qdos Entertainment.

But don’t go to The Plough expecting theatrical glitz (although if that’s your thing, you can find it at one of Thomas’s other local pub/restaurants, The Copper Horse at Seamer, which is stuffed with theatrical memorabilia).The Plough focuses on comfort. It’s a relaxed environment that’s reflected in the menu. Heading up the kitchen is Jon Smith, a local chef whose cooking and dedication to sustainable and locally sourced ingredients, way before it was fashionable, I’ve long admired. His previous ventures include Pepper’s on Scarborough’s York Place and the much-missed Hare’s Leap, a converted barn at Burniston where he served up brilliant refined-rustic food.

We chose from the standard menu of Yorkshire tapas (there are other starters on the specials board). This selection of small plates can easily tempt you into over-ordering, and we did. They’re all priced at £4 (three for £10.50) or £5 (three for £13), and that suggestion of three is judicious advice (and would make a fabulously good value light lunch for two).

We ordered four: delicious treacle-cured salmon with rye bread and horseradish, a snip at £4; tenderstem broccoli fried in feather-light tempura batter with herbed goats’ cheese, and crispy salt-and-pepper squid with smoked chill mayo – and as someone who always orders salt-and-pepper squid when it’s on the menu, and is so often disappointed by the rubbery, overcooked results, I can promise you that this was the real deal.

The fourth choice was my favourite on paper, yet perhaps the least successful on the plate – confit duck and chorizo spring roll with plum ketchup sounded delicious, but was just a little too solid for my liking. But then this is Yorkshire tapas…

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Our main course choices were from the specials board: whole roast partridge with bacon and girolles, game crumbs, pickled plums, mash and greens (£17), and roast halibut, bacon and hazelnuts, Jerusalem artichoke purée, new potatoes and grilled leeks (£20).

Jon Smith knows his game and has a healthy respect for it, reflected in the cooking of the partridge, tender and sliding nicely off the bone. I couldn’t figure out what was in the game crumbs which topped it, but they were crunchily delicious, a real umami hit and it was a delight to see the whole dish so generously studded with baby girolles. If pushed to have a Great British Menu ‘but/however’ moment – the pickled plums were just edging towards the mouth-puckering.

The halibut was a generous portion (it’s an expensive fish, and too many places are miserly with it) cooked to perfection, flaking beautifully.

By the time we reached puddings we were too full to really appreciate them, but suffice to say we somehow managed to polish off a not insubstantial strawberry, gin and lemon verbena trifle and a slice of apple frangipane tart with a scoop of Wensleydale ice cream.

One of the things I really appreciate about The Plough is their provision of free bottled water, still or sparkling. Our bill, including two large glasses of decent French Sauvignon, came to just over £80.

Food served: Mondays to Saturdays: noon to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9pm (9.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays), Sundays: noon to 8pm. The Plough, 21-23 High Street, Scalby, Scarborough, YO13 0PT. 01723 362622,

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