About a month ago I was pondering what I could add to the “luxury” section of the site – bearing in mind that the last item revealed had been my Mother’s vintage Conway Stewart pen. To be frank, when I first set up the section I was only envisioning really including smallish items – such as the already said noted pen, but also for example; shoes, clothing, booze and cigars etc. However, since retiring and having a bit more time to hand, why not expand this to include, say, restaurants, hotels, cars, and so on. The only criteria is that they should be of a certain quality – luxury!

I started to employ this flash of inspiration whilst I was having lunch at a nice establishment that I had called into a couple months ago. This was during a small road trip within the county that I had moved back to last year. To be fair, I had been in on a previous occasion, but naturally more than one visit is needed to form an opinion. Anyway, having had a second pleasant experience, I chatted to the manager about my review plan! Happily, she was receptive, so it was agreed that at some point I would call back to arrange a visit. This time a little before opening, so I could take some pictures and talk to staff before any patrons arrived. Anyway, a month or so later a suitable date was arranged.

First a little history: The Fox & Hounds is a Grade 2 listed country inn, offering good quality dining along with impressive accommodation. Originally it had been a coaching inn dating from the 17th C, being built from Jurassic limestone. It is set on one side of the high street in the picturesque village of Sinnington, near Pickering, North Yorkshire. There has been a settlement here since the 9th C, as noted in the Domesday Book of 1086. This possibly originated as a priory for nuns, and the remnants of this are probably a great hall – since converted into a tithe barn in later years. This is very close to the lovely church of All Saints, which has Saxon roots, but then rebuilt in the Norman style in the 12thC and further modernised in Victorian times. A large manor house – or grange, was built nearby by Lord Latimer in the 14thC, and one notable later ancestor was Catherine Parr, later to become the final wife of Henry V111. The village is very attractive, boasting pleasant greens and a small river passing through. I think it would be fair to say that this is a fairly affluent area, and the village is a much sought after place to live.

Typical of the style of most buildings in the village. Much nicer in the sun!

The Inn was in fact sold just before Covid broke, so, rather fortunate for the sellers, but not so much one imagines for the new owners. However, undeterred, they decided to take the opportunity to increase the accommodation, plus undertake a major refurbishment of most rooms, along with the kitchen and outside. The theme is “contemporary” in the bedrooms and some public areas – with attractive “modern” tartans being used on occasions. The bar areas have retained traditional features whilst having had a freshen-up.

All new and very comfortable

Starting with the accommodation, I was able to check out the premier Latimer a little closer (as it was free – I mean unoccupied!) and it is very impressive, being pretty spacious – despite housing what looks like a super king-size bed. Likewise, the bathroom is large and airy, and boasts a free-standing bath along with a separate shower. Toiletries are provided by Noble Isle. To be frank I had never heard of them, but after some checking out, the business was started by a Katy Simpson a mere 10 years ago. Much has been achieved – and quickly, with awards being given and their products finding their way into some pretty prestigious places. There is an emphasis on home produced fragrances with a story to tell. Needless to say such products do not come cheap, so are up there with the likes of Molten Brown and Neils Yard. So a tick!

The cosy residents lounge

Inside the main building there is a very comfy looking residents lounge, followed by two more traditionally styled bars with dining areas. These are separated by a lovely and massive wood-burning stove, with one side allowing dogs and the other not. Off the former is a separate “snug” that may be used for private functions for up to some ten souls.

The more formal dining area. Nice furnishings with a spacious air

Towards the side and back of the building is a more formal dining area – used predominantly in the evening. It is nice to see that there is reasonable  space between tables, – so that you do not feel as if every word can be heard by others – or vice versa!

At the side and rear of the property is a generous car park, with fields beyond. There is also a fairly sizable patio area further round the corner, with a decent selection of tables/chairs/umbrellas. There are small garden areas too that are very well kept and attractive.

The large car park with country backdrop. A large patio area is further round.

The business is owned by two couples – who I have not met. Mark and Vicky Miller live fairly locally, and Simon and Julia Cobb from Sheffield. Other main staff comprise of a (long-serving) general manager – Helen, assistant manager – Sabine, and a very efficient receptionist – Amanda. I have had the opportunity to meet most of them, along with head chef Fabian, an engaging Frenchman from Normandy – via a few other places!

So, hopefully that all provides a general picture of the facilities. I now turn to the other important element – dining! I deliberately decided to forgo breakfast in order to do lunch justice, but was, to be frank, still somewhat nervous as I rarely eat several courses these days! In any event Sabine provided lunch menus – one offering some six starters and four mains, along with noting a couple of “light” bites and three side orders. The other was a smaller Specials menu offering a few mains, a couple of desserts and a soup and sandwich. It was all pretty straightforward and varied. I also liked the idea of your own Specials menu – so much better than craning to see a board affixed to a wall somewhere or being manhandled around by a harassed member of staff! Incidentally, I also took a look at the evening menus – a la carte and Specials. The former had some six starters, five mains, and four side orders. The latter had two starters and three mains. There was a pretty decent variety, but of course is dearer than the lunch offerings, offset somewhat by more sophistication. I also checked out the wine list which appeared to have enough to satisfy all but the pickiest of tastes.

After some perusal, I had all but come to some decisions. I fancied the beef carpaccio with dressed rocket, then fish and chips with peas. In the event these did not transpire. Why? Well, I had asked if I could possibly have a quick chat with the chef – who happened to be the aforementioned Fabian that day. After having ascertained how he came to be in North Yorkshire and a few other things, matters turned to my potential selection. I mentioned that my favourite starter was in fact prawn cocktail. Yes, I know some may say it is a bit passé and very 70’s, but hell I like it! However, I said that would really preclude the fish and chips, as when sampling one should consume both fish/seafood and meat!  I also mentioned that the mushroom risotto looked nice – but although I love mushrooms, I would prefer a meat version. After a quick ponder, Fabian suggested that I go with my prawn cocktail, then the risotto – but how about if he also added some sautéed guinea fowl? Oh, yes please! Off he went, and in the meantime I ordered half a pint of Black Sheep ale – with a jug of water. The strength of the former is not great, so was comfortable with this what with having driven.

The humble prawn cocktail can be soooo nice!

The prawn cocktail arrived pretty quickly and was very nice. Really, although it takes some doing to mess up what is a fairly simple dish, you would be surprised at what some folks serve up! Here, the prawns were juicy and generous. The lettuce I discovered when delving into was probably a baby Cos variety, but rather than typically being shredded (or worse just flaccid large leaves), it had been cross sectioned! I personally have never had that before but it worked well. The Rose Marie sauce was fine too – not sickly as some can be. So far so good!

In the next intermission I decided to check out that wine list a little more. I reasoned that any review worth its salt would be a little deficient if wine was totally absent. I again reasoned that if I had the smallest glass, drunk some more water, and ate all my food over a couple of hours, then I would be fine! So, bearing in mind that I was constrained to the wine section offering “by the glass”, I picked the best I felt for the meal and my own taste. This was therefore one of the four whites on offer, being an Origen non-oaked Chardonnay from the Luis Felipe Edwards winery in Chile. This was very pleasant, with the notes on the bottle being borne out i.e. fruit overtones.

My “enhanced” mushroom risotto. Delicious and surprisingly filling!

Next, the now “mushroom plus guinea fowl” risotto arrived, and I must say I was looking forward to it! OK, I usually eschew undue hyperbole, but I have to admit that this was extremely good. The rice in its creamy sauce was slightly al dente. There were a variety of exotic-type mushrooms – and not the miserable offerings usually offered, but these were copious and substantial. The guinea fowl? Well, it was delicious. The texture was almost butter-like, and the lightly crisped skin offered a lovely contrasting texture and flavour. The only one thing I would say here is that I am unsure if any wine was used in the risotto. Some chefs do some do not. Something to check next time!

Very pleasant, albeit my second choice!

Finally the dessert. I had by now decided that due to moral integrity, I would need to at least attempt a dessert course! I opted for a creme brulee – for the simple reason that I always have this if available. Alas, bad news came back. None left! I re-pondered and decided that the least harmful (to my waist) was possibly a panna cotta with strawberry sorbet. When it arrived it also had a few orange segments too, and some dabs of strawberry coulee. I have not much to say here, other than it was refreshing and absolutely fine. To be honest I am not a great dessert enthusiast, and of course my first choice had foundered!

A great coffee is surprisingly important to round things off!

Lastly, I had a really super cup of coffee – rich and creamy. Oh, plus a small shortbread. I really now did feel like Mr Creosote from Monty Python as this small morsel passed my lips.

So, my thoughts? My dining experience was very enjoyable – encompassing the environment, staff interaction/service, and the quality of the food. Also, a willingness to please (i.e. my main course modification) is also very refreshing and does matter! Regarding the price, at £47.75 (ex-service), I feel this is par for the course – not cheap, but not too expensive either. However, clearly for an evening out this price will inflate rather, and if I attempt to estimate – say for me, I would imagine around £75 ex-service. Yes, the evenings will always be more, but looking at some of the prices, I personally feel that some are a tad too expensive if I am honest. I would also note here and now that I have not experienced an evening meal, but hopefully the quality and service remain all good.

Regarding a stay experience, I also cannot vouch for this either, but I am sure it would be good. The room I visited appeared nice and clean, as with the other areas I saw. Again, prices are what you would expect at the upper end of the quality spectrum. These range from £200 for the Latimer down to £120 for the Traditional – with some others in-between, and all include breakfast. There are also discounts if you stay at least three nights. Er, dog owners get to pay £15 extra per night per pooch!

In conclusion, and from my experiences, I feel this establishment is attractive, well-run, and offers very good accommodation and food. Prices are at the upper end, and for some may be too much, but up to a point you get what you pay for! I for one will be back again!

Rating: 4.5/5

Contact details: Fox & Hounds Country Inn, Sinnington. North Yorkshire. YO62 6SQ. Tel: 01751 431577. Web: www.thefoxandhoundsinn.co.uk

Words & images: The Writer.