Travel review: why fine dining at The General Tarleton near Harrogate is drawing diners in from far and wide
Clinking our glasses in front of a roaring fire whilst sampling some of Yorkshire’s finest fare, there can be few better places to spend a cosier night in the country than at The General Tarleton.
It’s a landmark coaching inn named after an old British General, but affectionately known as The GT, that’s been keeping well people well fed and watered since the eighteenth century, but the well-known North Yorkshire restaurant with rooms underwent a major makeover this year that’s helping to further stamp it on the map.
Under its new owners, who took over in January 2021, it’s been given a whole new look with its traditional beams and stone walls complemented by a heritage colour scheme, plush furnishings and bold statement wallpapers that differ from room to room, from jungle scenes to rich florals.
Food-lovers will also revel in its menus devised by new head chef, and 2018’s Masterchef The Professionals’, Chris McPhee, dishes which are drawing in people far and wide to the village of Ferrensby.
Here’s why it’s worth checking in for a G&T at The GT.
With North Yorkshire’s rich larder at their fingertips, Chris and the kitchen team have plenty of local produce to play with in the menus, which change monthly to reflect the seasons.
Food miles are constantly being shortened here with vegetables grown in a nearby allotment (and plans afoot for an onsite kitchen garden), herb-fed chicken from Easingwold and meat from the much-respected R&J’s butchers in Ripon, amongst the many ingredients used.
We took our seats in front of the crackle of the fire in Ralph’s, one of three dining rooms at the site, for a seven-course tasting menu.
It’s the more formal of the three rooms with impeccable white table cloths, a single red rose on each table and instrumental playlist.
There’s certainly traditional touches here, such as white-glove and sommelier service, but the low ceilings, warm atmosphere and friendly staff mean this is fine dining, but not stuffily so.
Our menu was certainly worth travelling for, with a great medley of flavours and textures and an excellent pairing from incredibly-knowledgeable sommelier Donald that introduced us to some really interesting wines.
First up in this foray into Yorkshire’s finest were snacks of artichoke crisp with roasted artichoke cream; chicken and tarragon blini with apricot and apple; and tempura plaice, pickled shallot and saffron aioli. They were moreish mouthfuls, packed full of flavour, heightened by a sparkling pairing of zingy Bernard Remy Champagne.
Next, and my favourite dish and pairing of the evening, was chicken liver with gingerbread, pear and coriander. It’s not an obvious combination but the ginger really added an interesting depth and contrast of flavour, especially when paired with the sweetness of a Sauternes wine.
The following dish was a lighter, fresher affair: a citrus cured Chalk Stream trout with pickled watermelon, toasted sesame and tapioca crisp.
Meanwhile, the local Ox Fine Close venison, served with baby parsnip and puree, fondant potato and venison sauce, served with an intense Imperial Rioja, was a real winter warmer.
Onto the puddings, and the Mrs Bells Blue Cheese with fruitloaf, port syrup, compressed apple and walnut was a beautifully-presented stack that was begging to be committed to Instagram.
A velvety lemon syllabub with Champagne jelly proved a perfect palate cleanser before the finale dish: a magnificent Manjari chocolate mousse with yoghurt, bramble and pistachio that was a real work of art. This is food worth writing home about.
To continue the night, make sure to pop through to the bar with its cosy snugs and cracking choice of drinks.
It’s also perfect for more informal dining. It has the ambience of a country pub, but with luxe touches, and its a la carte menu offers the same, quality produce of the tasting menu but with bigger, single portions, as well as filling Sunday lunches.
If you’re staying overnight, breakfast is served in the conservatory area, a bright and welcoming space with traditional flagstone flooring and a faux foliage canopy to soften the natural light that pours in. Expect hearty meals to set you up for the day, from organic Yorkshire porridge to truffled eggs.
There’s 15 rooms in total, all of which have been given a new look, and imbued with their own personality with bold wallpapers and touches such as jewelled lamp shades and statement tables.
Each room differs slightly in its decor, but some things come as standard though, such as chic, modern monochrome bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, luxury toiletries and good tea and coffee facilities, including chocolate-covered shortbreads.
There’s also a well-stocked honesty bar downstairs if you fancy drinks in your room.
How to get there
Situated on Boroughbridge Road, you can’t miss The GT when driving through Ferrensby. There’s plenty of free parking for those travelling by car.
It’s handily placed just off the A1, and is around three miles from Knaresborough if you fancy hiring a row boat to pass under its mighty viaduct.
Harrogate is also a 25-minute drive away for a spot of shopping. And, of course, there’s the rolling countryside of North Yorkshire on the doorstep for cycling and walks.
Its location means it’s also a good stop off point for people travelling from North to South, and vice versa.
Compared to other tasting menus of this standard, prices are very fair. If you’re just visiting for food, the seven-course tasting menu is £55pp and an additional £55pp for the wine flight.
For a la carte dishes in the bar, you can pick up two courses for £24 or three courses for £29.
There’s a good stay and dine offer running in the new year where you can enjoy a tasting menu / a la carte dinner, bed and breakfast for £190.
It’s worth noting, that menus change regularly so won’t necessarily include the dishes featured here. For more details visit the-gt.co.uk