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Black Swan

MORE THAN A STAR

A Michelin star is a guarantee of quality in three things, the food, the service and the ambience. Although there are inevitably many good restaurants deserving of a star (or two) that will never get them, (more because they have not come to the attention of the reviewers and bloggers that send a restaurant to the Michelin short list than because of any shortcomings), those that attain that coveted award can be relied on to provide a consistently rewarding dining experience. But, sometimes, what the star doesn’t tell you is how much more a restaurant has to offer. Sometimes you come across an establishment that inspires you with qualities that go beyond even the exacting standards of Michelin’s criteria.

The Black Swan at Oldstead is one such establishment. Situated on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, (about twenty five miles north of York itself). It is run by the Banks family, Chef Tommy Banks providing the culinary experience while brother James manages the front of house and is responsible for the service. Ambience is a joint venture between the family and the extraordinary beauty of the landscape which the Banks family has farmed for centuries!

RESTAURANT

Along with its Michelin the star Black Swan was awarded The Best Restaurant in the UK 2018 by The Food and Travel Magazine and the ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurant in the World’, (no less), by TripAdvisor, in 2017.

Much of the food served in the restaurant comes straight from the family farm. Some is the product of ‘foraging’ in the woods and hedgerows around Oldstead. To get a visual sense of the landscape that is the source of the Black Swan Menu, take a short visit to their website where you will very quickly appreciate the source of Banks family ‘s inspiration.
https://www.blackswanoldstead.co.uk

Flavours are intensified and developed through traditional ageing, pickling or fermenting. These processes sometimes result in unique and exquisite flavours which are on offer nowhere else. Then there are the combinations of tastes and textures which often sound as if they simply should not work, (like turbot with strawberries and cream), but, in fact, turn out to be gastronomic heaven.

The dishes are further enhanced, of course, by the perfect Studio William cutlery which graces every table!

CHEF

Tommy Banks was Britain’s youngest Michelin starred chef in 2013 and went on to win the Great British Menu in 2016 and 2017. Along with Development Chef Nick Brown, (who provides a flair for experimenting with ‘alternative produce’) and inventive Head Chef Will Lockwood, he makes up one third of the creative trio that has now produced so many signature dishes that the restaurant now offers only a tasting menu to ensure diners have the experience which the team feels they deserve.

MENU

As you would expect, the menu is heavily influenced by whatever is in season. It is just as heavily influenced by a team of chefs who never stop pushing the boundaries of taste experience. Although the chefs dislike the term ‘signature dish’ they do admit that some of their dishes, particularly those presented by Tommy on the Great British Menu have become justly famous. As Nick said in a recent interview for ‘Staff Canteen’:

“I never used to like the idea of signature dishes but when people start paying attention to particular ones, you have them whether you like it or not. Like the crapaudine beetroot, I eat it and try not to like it but I do. That’s become a signature dish.”

The tasting menu not only allows diners to experience a wide range of the unique dishes on offer at the Black Swan, it also eliminates that worst of dining agonies, having to choose just one out of at least half a dozen wonderful menu items! (Look out for the mussel and wood sorrel or the hogweed custard with elderflower vinegar, sheep’s yoghurt and honeycomb. When we said ‘foraging’ ‘alternative’ and ‘experimental’, we did mean all three at once!).


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