It is an idyllic gastropub story for the Black Swan at Oldstead – family-run, in the middle of nowhere, with exciting and experimental food. It is also 2018’s Highest New Entry.
Chef-patron Tommy Banks and his family have pulled together one of the finest dining establishments on offer in the north of England, which they have done with a great amount of modesty.
You won’t see Tommy shouting about his accolades from the roof of his Oldstead, North Yorkshire, gastropub. But you may see him on television shows such as The Great British Menu or Saturday Kitchen, working on dishes with the same passion and enthusiasm he does in his own pub kitchen.
One of the Black Swan’s many points of difference is the amount of produce grown by the team. This has long been an area of interest for Tommy, who emphasises the pub’s growing credentials on menus.
Though many would believe ‘growing your own’ would make the gastropub operate a menu more in sync with the seasons, that is not necessarily the case.
In an interview with Restaurant magazine, Tommy finds it hard to describe his menu as seasonal, pointing out the difficulties of growing produce year-round.
He says the fruits and vegetables many associate with certain seasons are not usually ready until much later. So, he makes ingredients last longer by either pickling them or clamping them – storing them under straw and soil, which is an old fashioned preservation method.
The Banks family has lived and farmed around the area for many generations, so it makes sense the pub is supplied by own-grown produce.
You can see which produce is in season on the pub’s website, whether that is cauliflower, ‘frozen mint’ or apples.
While Tommy heads the kitchen, brother James runs the front-of-house team, which has been the case for many years now.
Dishes you’re likely to find on the tasting menu include: cod with cauliflower parsley; crapaudine beetroot slow cooked in beef fat; scallop with fermented celeriac; and venison and smoked slow.
For dessert: blackened apple with rye; damson and kernel; and root vegetable panettone.
There are also six stylish rooms available for hire, so diners need not make the journey to and from the gastropub in one go.