There's the Dawnay Arms at Newton on Ouse, and a little past that the Crown at Great Ouseburn, which is rather wonderful, even if they haven't got anywhere to park a bike. There's the Durham Oxford at Crayke and apparently a new place at Lower Dunsforth, which I shall try at some point. There's obviously something in the water, or perhaps that bit of land more or less equidistant from York, Rippon and Harrogate that means people all head there when fancying a drive out, a drink and a nice meal.
Now I like these places. All do good food, most do good beer, all provide a nice bike ride to get there, and all of them are rather in the wrong direction to meet up with most of my friends, who tend to live to the south.
So where are the other good foodie pubs? You would have thought that if the York / Rippon / Harrogate triangle would keep so many going them there would be a similar cluster between York and Leeds, but they seem far less common.
Discussing this at work a friend suggests the improbably named Queen o't'owd Thatch, in South Millford. Checking the maps, it's about 20 miles, it's a surprisingly nice and sunny day, so why not?
I'm here for lunch on a Saturday, and perhaps a bit early - I don't think there are any other customers in when I arrive, though some are trickling in as I write this. It's a nice open place with a large dining area and only a few more pubbish tables to one side. Definitely good attentive staff, which of course may be a side effect of not having many people in to attend to.
Impressions: you often find that foodie pubs are a little less imaginative when it comes to be than the food and wine, which might be the case here. Leeds Pale, York Terrier, Ossett Blonde. All good reliable drinks, even if none of them are surprising. Nice to get the beer in a proper old fashioned mug with a handle. I don't know many places that still use them. Are they more expensive? Do they take up too much space in the dishwasher?
The QoTT obviously does think about the wine a lot, since the menu suggests a type ideally paid with every course, which I am strenuously ignoring in favour of beer. They even have an extensive list of cocktails, with a fair number of non - alcoholic options.
As I said, good attentive staff, who check exactly how is like my beef done, and I'm pleased to have some wait for the food to arrive. There's little worse than the sense that the food was sat under a warming lamp just waiting for you to come in. And it's a good bit of beef, pink and succulent on the inside, crisp and slightly smokey on the outside. If there's a criticism then it's that I'd have liked a little more in the way of veg with it - yes, there were side dishes in the menu, but I never expect to have to think of greenery an extra. Remember that for next time. It was a very nice bit of beef, with mash and turnips and a wonderful intense sauce, which I expect a proper good blogger would call jus.
So to contemplate desert. I don't normally go for pudding when cycling out to pubs, but there's a lemon tart calling to me and what the hell? Throw caution to the wind. And I am a sucker for a good lemon tart. And (he writes a few minutes later) that was a splendid lemon tart, sharp citrus complemented by raspberry sorbet and completely lacking in soggy bottom.
So all in all? I can't see this being somewhere on a regular pilgrimage route, but so somewhere to suggest to meet up with friends in Leeds or coming up the M1, certainly. It's not cheap, but good food shouldn't be. And it says definitely good food.