Tickled Trout ticks
all the boxes
The Tickled Trout Inn
I was a little concerned about doing my first food review for Excelle. Had they sent me to a dismal dining experience that I’d have to turn into digestible fodder for our readers? The moment I stepped out of the car in the picturesque village of Bilton-in-Ainsty and saw the entrance of the Tickled Trout Inn, lit up with pretty flickering lanterns, I was immediately glad I came.
After a warm welcome, my sister and I began soaking up the immaculate interiors. I’m more of a traditional pub than flashy bar kind of girl and this fit the bill perfectly. Contemporary-traditional at its best and so cosy, it’s like they have injected character back into the pub - which is unrecognisable from when it was the Chequers Inn. Everything has been thought through, from the handwritten menus (which the owner made himself) to the quirky wall decorations of stag heads and fishing rods.
First impressions are everything and so it seemed fitting when an impressive slab of warm homemade focaccia and salted butter was laid upon our table. I’m a bit of a sucker for all things homemade so it was the perfect start and the ideal accompaniment for chef Karl’s ‘almost famous’ crab soup which the menu states takes ‘three hours to make, ten years to perfect’. A perfectly garnished bowl was placed in front of me, followed by what looked like an oversized test tube filled with this perfected recipe that was poured in front of me at the table. I love little touches like that.
My sister, Isabelle’s, criteria for a great pub is a good steak - so the 30 day aged rib-eye was her choice, whilst I opted for the venison. I’m told the steak didn’t disappoint, despite her usual fussiness and she’d already declared she would be bringing her boyfriend before she had finished her third mouthful. The great thing about the Tickled Trout is that the staff tailor the dining experience to you. We were asked if we had any special dietary requirements, which we didn’t, but I get the impression it would have been a pleasure to cater for, rather than a hassle, if we had. Regardless of the upmarket dining experience, host Lee didn’t flinch when Isabelle ordered ketchup (sacrilege) with her steak, testament to how laid back and accommodating they are. I think the service could be best described as attentive but not overbearing.
Stuffed to the brim but willing to put ourselves out in the name of good journalism, we ordered the Assiette of desserts to complete our review of this unique restaurant. Highlights include the sticky toffee pudding topped with homemade ice cream and marshmallows that had been created moments earlier in the kitchen. These are just two of the selection that was placed between us. Spectacular morsels - we finished the lot. Also noteworthy is the vegan menu, one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen in a pub and although a devout carnivore, I was definitely tempted by the plant-based offerings.
There’s an amazing panelled private dining room, a cosy nook by one of the open fires that looks like it’s been designed for a nightcap, a great kids’ menu and very reasonably priced food for the delicious standard. I spied some dog treats on the bar, which implies hairy companions are welcome in the bar area, making this an ideal pit stop during a countryside stomp. In conclusion, I think congratulations are in order for Karl, Amanda, Lee and the team for officially putting Bilton-in-Ainsty on the gastronomic map.
Delicious food, great service and an inviting atmosphere, what more could you want in a country pub?
The Tickled Trout Inn
Church Street, Bilton in Ainsty,
Wetherby YO26 7NN