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It has to be Harrogate column with Caroline Bayliss

The wonderful steak and Guinness pie.
The wonderful steak and Guinness pie.

Hotel dining rooms rarely come to mind when we are looking for somewhere inspiring to eat. And truth be told I would probably not have considered the White Hart Hotel if it had not been for the fact that during the recent Harrogate Flower Show, the North of England Horticultural Society entertained its show judges to dinner there.

I came straight home and told my husband that I had to take him there because he would love the steak and Guinness pie.

So on Friday we went back; we took another judge with us, but this time of the legal rather than the horticultural variety.

You enter the brasserie through the bar of the Fat Badger. It was Friday night and the bar was bursting with people; but the restaurant was serene enough.

It’s an attractive room and the windows look out over the Montpellier Stray.

For those of you who haven’t been to the White Hart recently, it has been refurbished and they have put a great deal of effort into making an attractive bar, restaurant and outside area.

For starters I ordered Char Grilled King Prawns with garlic lemon and chilli.

The presentation was a bit rustic, but the four large prawns had plenty of kick.

The brown roll served with it was essential for soaking up the last remaining sauce; too good to be wasted.

Other starters we tried were a smoked haddock and pea risotto; nicely presented and delicately flavoured; and a delicious dish of mushrooms on toast with plenty of shredded fried leek on top.

The men were there to try the steak pie and they were not disappointed. Tender pieces of beef in a melt in the mouth pastry case. Not for those who are counting the calories but gloriously British. We declared it as good as the pie at Rules in Covent Garden and at half the price; but, to achieve perfection, Tom, always a traditionalist, would have liked a little kidney with the steak. I had the chicken schnitzel, dripping with Gruyere cheese.

No need to order vegetables here; the pie came with peas and mashed potatoes and my chicken came with cherry tomatoes and plenty of crispy chips.

Puddings are old fashioned. Nothing wring with that! The raspberry trifle was pure indulgence. Sherry soaked sponge, raspberries and a fresh raspberry sauce, creamy crème Anglaise with lashings of cream and toasted almonds on top.

Not like your mother used to make. Much better!

A short but excellent wine list: plenty of easy drinking wines and, if you wanted it, some stonkingly good white burgundy at a decent price.

They’re not marking the wines up much here. And lots of wine by the glass.

We drank Malbec, which went well with the pie.

Service was good; the informal dining room, which was busy with couples and small groups of all ages, felt welcoming; had a good and vibrant atmosphere, but it wasn’t at all noisy. Good value too!

Go and try it; you will not be disappointed.