This year's Cateys Special Award winners Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft's first pub outside of Lancashire, the Bull at Broughton, shows a passion for local providence. Gemma Sharkey reports.
With its rough-looking brickwork, simple design and location next to the busy thoroughfare of the A59, the Bull at Broughton near Skipton in North Yorkshire might easily escape the notice of a man on a galloping horse. But don't let the plain facade fool you - the food here has been painstakingly sourced and is the latest venture from this year's Catey Special Award winners Nigel Haworth and Craig Bancroft of Ribble Valley Inns.
A brief scan of the 90-seat restaurant's interior quickly confirms Haworth's passion for local providence is once again in full force. Richard Moran's photographs of its local suppliers and farmers adorn the walls, while the back of the menu features a map detailing its food heroes - about 20 individual suppliers in a 40-mile radius.
The staff are all dressed in rustic red and white checked shirts, which contributes to the general laid-back vibe of a pub where people order their food at the bar and drink real ale, just like any other honest-to-goodness Yorkshire establishment.
While the menu has been conceived by Haworth, with his signature emphasis on regional and classic dishes made from the freshest possible ingredients, head chef Neil Butterworth oversees the kitchen day-to-day. His cooking reveals a modern British grounding mixed with more classic French fare. Having worked under the Michelin-starred Eric Chavot at Chez Nico and Gary Rhodes at the Greenhouse in London, he returned to his homeland in the North and joined the Bull in 2002.
In March this year, the property was bought by RVI as the group's first venture outside of Lancashire where the group owns three other pubs. "Being the group's first pub in Yorkshire we use different local producers and take advantage of a closer proximity to the sea to get our fish, including Scarborough Woof and east coast lobster," Butterworth explains.
And the menu is brimming with appealing local produce. It kicks off with a platter to share: The Bull Dips comprising Yellinson Farm goats' cheese and watercress, preserved olive tomatoes, red beetroot relish, Wensleydale butter and home-made bread (£4.50), all served up in earth tone ceramic pots on a chunky wooden board. The goats' cheese is liquid and unctuous, with a fresh kick from the watercress, which the beetroot blended to a smooth chutney-like texture complements. The tomatoes, seasoned with bay leaf and thyme, are ripened to perfection.
A highlight is the east coast native lobster in garlic and herb butter (whole £21; half £10.50), from the specials menu which changes four times a year. It's small but exceptionally tasty and comes with garlic mayonnaise and a hefty portion of oyster pan-fried potatoes served in a circular newspaper dish. Side dishes of peas and broad beans in mint with butter and tarragon complement the mains well, while the cauliflower cheese - rich, creamy and topped with a crispy baked brown surface - is pure comfort food, ideal after a day's traipsing around the surrounding moors.
But it's the Whitby scampi in beer batter with fresh broad beans and peas (£14.50) that steals the customers' hearts, according to Butterworth. "I think it's quite a retro dish that people remember from years ago - rather than the mass-produced sort you get nowadays. People are embracing it and eating it by the bucket-load." And, they're not wrong - the fleshy white langoustine is generously proportioned and the batter, light and crispy, is accompanied with flavoursome chips deep-fried in dripping.
For dessert, another classic choice, Knickerbocker glory (£5.50) - also on the seasonal specials menu - is rich enough to be shared by three. It's more of a cream than ice-cream-laden concoction, with fleshy sweet strawberries and wonderfully chewy caramelised wafer. As the first of a number of pubs RVI has planned outside of Lancashire, the Bull at Broughton fits perfectly into the stable.
The Bull at Broughton, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 3AE
Tel: 01765 792065
WHAT'S ON THE MENU
- Wild rabbit faggots, roast courgette purée and tomato juices (£5.50)
- Loose Birds free-range chicken liver pâté, golden raisins, Cumberland sauce and toasted home-made bread (£5.50)
- Kilnsey Farm hot smoked trout salad, black pudding, organic egg and watercress dressing (£7.50)
- The Bull fish pie, Whitby fish and sea water prawns baked with mash potato, sprinkled with Wensleydale cheese (£9.95)
- Battered deep-fried Scarborough Woof, marrowfat peas and real chips cooked in dripping
- tartare sauce (£11.95)
- Hot Farmhouse Fare pork pie, garden peas, broad beans, pork scratching mash and roast gravy (£8.75)
- Frumenty, an old-fashioned Yorkshire dessert, with Dales raspberries (£5)
- Baked duck egg custard, nutmeg and blackberries (£5)
- Double chocolate mousse, milk foam and hot dark chocolate sauce (£5.50)