Our aim was to fully relax after a stress-filled week at work. Cue a characterful hotel with gorgeous period features, fantastic food and a warm Yorkshire welcome at the Black Swan Hotel in Helmsley – bliss.
The Black Swan in Hemsley is centuries old and sits pretty as a picture in the town’s market square and the market was in full swing when we arrived. As we stepped inside the glorious hotel, we were greeted by the extremely friendly and helpful Emma.
In our quest to relax, it seemed fitting to start our evening with a cocktail (or two) in The Black Swan’s manicured tiered garden overlooking Helmsley All Saint’s church (well worth a visit if only to check out the fabulous paintings). Our peach Bellini and espresso martinis hit the spot as we soaked up the tranquil atmosphere.
Eager to dine, we opted to sample the taster menu in three AA rosette-awarded Gallery Restaurant and were extremely well looked after by Nelly, who struck the perfect balance between warm and friendly yet professional. To start, we were treated to a selection of snacks including deep fried lamb croquettes; a soupçon of moreish white onion and Parmesan soup (of which I could have eaten a whole bowlful) and white truffle toast complete with fir shrubbery, adding an earthy flavour. My favourite had to be the mini salmon mousse ‘Cornettos’ – little cones with a surprise jammy bottom.
We then settled into our comfy chairs and loosened our belts ready for an epic culinary rollercoaster through six more courses created by new chef, Alan O’Kane. Firstly, we were presented with ham and foie gras with a punchy caper jam, pease pudding and crunchy quail’s egg with celeriac rémoulade; then came the sea bass with razor clams, mussels and mint, followed by the sharp and exciting venison tartare with undertones of fennel and a crunchy topping, and duck with glass noodle crisps, sweet potato purée and toasted sweetcorn. Desserts were a most welcome and refreshing palette cleanser of ricotta cheesecake with calamansi sorbet and crunchy tuile and finally a slice of stunning espresso chocolate cake. This incredible feast was washed down with a decent bottle of Malbec.
Feeling content and satisfied, we waddled to bed and slept like babies. Our cosy bedroom had heaps of period charm including oak beams and dinky doorways but with all the mod cons and huge comfy bed. The view from our room was utterly charming and looked out over the square.
Next morning, after we woke, we gladly indulged in breakfast. My husband opted for the eggs Benedict and was not disappointed (the brioche and Hollandaise I’m told were particular highlights). I very much enjoyed my huge portion of smoked salmon and silky scrambled eggs. The fruit salad and yoghurt was also wonderful and I had second helpings of the prunes and apricots soaked in Earl Grey syrup.
Alas, our minibreak came to an end and we reluctantly departed – sent on our way with bottles of water and apples for the journey, which was a lovely farewell touch.
Read More about dining and staying in Yorkshire in our Food & Drink Guide.