Having close friends across the country makes for a great excuse to escape London and get out into the countryside. For this trip we were heading up North, to Yorkshire. Our friends who live in York went to school with a very talented chef, Tommy Banks who is head chef at The Black Swan in Oldstead which is about 45mins outside of York.

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Some of you may recognise Tommy from the recent series of Great British Menu where he did incredibly well and even managed to win one of the final banquet courses. Tommy also holds the impressive title of being the youngest chef in Britain to be awarded a Michelin star at the tender age of 24. Now at 27 he’s continued to create incredible dishes and still heads up the family run restaurant alongside his brother James who is Front of House and his Mother who is still an important presence in the restaurant.

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Seeing as the restaurant is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, in a very quaint village, you might find it easiest to stay in one of their lovely rooms which are onsite. Perfect setting for a romantic weekend away to get some lovely country fresh air.

Think it’s about time we dug into the food, they only offer an 8 course tasting menu for the dinner sessions and at £85 it’s rather steep but so worth it for a special occasion and if you’re able to push the boat out for one night of the year. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the initial courses but my god they were good. See the menu below for the various delights we enjoyed, real highlights were the langoustine tacos and the chicken dumplings. Of course the sour bread and sour butter wasn’t just your basic bread and butter, it was heavenly, they were even kind enough to wrap up a large chunk of bread and butter for an elderly grandparent who was unable to join us.

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Now onto the pretty pictures I did manage to capture, an unusual dish of Crapaudine Beetroot cooked slowly in beef fat. Incredible how the meaty flavours come through strongly in the beetroot, very unusual but lovely dish.

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Next up was a real highlight for all of us from the evening, scallop with jerusalem artichoke. Presented two ways in gorgeous ceramic crockery, on the top was an alternative way of using the scallops. Then once you’ve finished that you uncover the fat juicy scallop in it’s more traditional sense, whole but with chopped apple and a gorgeous sauce.

One of my favourites was the next fish course, halibut with squid and lettuce. Fresh and flavoursome fish complimented by the bed of vegetables it was sat on. Melt in the mouth and just incredible.

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The lamb with fermented turnip and mint was just as good, just the right amount of mint so as not to overpower the dish and an interesting way to present the fermented turnip.

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We skipped the cheese course as with three desserts still to come, we did not want to ruin our appetite. An interesting course was the lollipops, frozen sorbet and ice cream style sticks with different flavours. Ranging from a standout salted caramel one to the more unusual celery!

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Our final two dishes to complete our wonderful evening of food was a Hay custard with raspberries on a beautifully flakey pastry, amazing. Then a very different cake made from acorn, chicory root and lovage, all of course using ingredients from the gardens outside the restaurant.

It was an incredible feast and you can see how Tommy Banks is rising up so quickly and definitely a chef to watch out for. The place has a lovely family feel to it and I only hope they continue to exceed and all their hard work pays off. If you’re in Yorkshire, do book in to experience the food or perhaps make it a weekend in the countryside.

There’s plenty of places to visit, of course York city centre is beautiful but if you venture further outside you’ll find gems such as Castle Howard, stunning on a cold Winter’s weekend when the blue skies are in full force. What are you waiting for, get yourself up North!

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