Did you know that Swinton Estate comprises 20,000 acres? The hotel boasts a four-acre walled garden which is the largest hotel kitchen garden in the UK. So, with this in mind it is no surprise that the seasonal restaurant menus utilise local produce. Swinton Park prides itself on estate to plate governance and limited food miles where possible.
Samuel’s Restaurant is Swinton Park’s fine dining option, and they recently welcomed an exciting new, young, Executive Chef. Ruth Hansom has made regular appearances on ‘The Great British Menu’, ‘James Martin’s Saturday Morning’ and ‘Saturday Kitchen Live’. We were privileged to meet her and experience her signature Epicurean Tasting Menu which beautifully emphasises Swinton Parks ‘Estate to Plate’ ethos.
The tasting menu has six courses, eight if you include the hors d’oeuvres and the delightful petits fours. Make that nine courses if you include the Old Roan Farmhouse Wensleydale with a fluffy and moist carrot cake which is served as an optional extra after the listed six courses at a supplementary £10. The tasting menu is, in my opinion, very reasonably priced at £85 per person, plus an optional £55 for the carefully curated wine pairing.
Let’s start at the beginning, because it’s not just about the food, but the entire experience, and that very much began for us when we drove through the gated arched entrance and up the beautiful sweeping drive, surrounded by lush gardens, to the impressive, luxury castle hotel. This feels more like a lavish country home than a hotel and has been owned by the Cunliffe-Lister family since the 1800s.
Samuel’s Restaurant could be described as oozing understated elegance, with large windows overlooking sweeping lawns and has the most beautiful opulent ceiling that it is impossible not to gaze at. They have a smart/casual dress code and discourage jeans and trainers. The overall feel is welcoming and relaxing.
Upon being seated, my linen napkin was placed on my knee, water brought to the table and hors d’oeuvres served before the first course of ‘Daily Bread’ which included Black Sheep Soda Bread, inspired by The Black Sheep Brewery located just a few miles up the road. Next followed ‘Garden Pea Custard’ which was served with fresh asparagus. We were told this was picked from their garden by Lord Masham himself, who is now the 4th Earl of Swinton. I had been looking forward to the next dish, ‘Whitby Crab Ravioli’ my favourite. Next was Phil’s favourite course, ‘Waterford Farm Salt Aged Lamb.’ Kevin, the manager of Samuel’s Restaurant explained that the lamb is from five miles down the road, which is still (incredibly!) within the borders of the estate. This was cooked to perfection and succulent. Attentive but not overbearing, Kevin couldn’t have done more to ensure we had the best possible experience and we loved hearing his short ditties about Swinton Estate throughout our evening.
‘Yorkshire Rhubarb’ was next and the wine pairing for this deserves a mention for it was unusual: a light sparkling Rouge Cabernet Franc which was a perfect accompaniment to the dish, although the next wine pairing was my most memorable of the evening. I am always partial to a dessert wine and the Newt Ice Cyder from Somerset was the ideal accompaniment to the ‘Preserved Pear.’
This is the apple version of a Canadian ice wine. Served with Yorkshire Parkin, Goat’s Curd and Speculoos this pairing was absolutely mouthwatering.
Samuel’s have developed something rather special here. A delightful tasting menu set in idyllic surroundings. At the end of the meal, Ruth personally came out and signed a smaller version of the menu for every table to take away with them. Such a lovely, personalised touch to remember a wonderful evening.
There is far too much to discuss to even start telling you about what Swinton Estate offers, but I did notice that Samuel’s have a three-course Sunday lunch menu and if their tasting menu is anything to go by then I would say this is certainly worth a try.
Swinton Estate, Masham,
Ripon HG4 4JH.
Tel. 01765 680900