Situated at the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Harrogate, Wetherby and Leeds, the Domesday village of East Keswick has a history as an old farming settlement.
In 1086 the village was called Chesinc and referred to a cheese farm, although no cheese is produced in the village anymore. Perhaps an idea for the local deli to take up.
This area was then ruled by Tor, a Saxon Lord.
With the passage of time Chesinc became Keswick and then East Keswick, perhaps to differentiate itself from the Lake District version as there is no West, North or South Keswick.
Now a commuter haven, it is an upmarket place to live these days and the 1200 or so residents have much to be proud of. There is an active social community and the village is surrounded by lovely countryside with numerous walks around the area.
The magnificent Harewood House is just a few miles up the road.
In 1974, much of the village was declared a conservation area, so new building is restricted.
It has featured as the ‘Best Village’ in various competitions over the years.
The village supports two pubs, The Old Star and the Duke of Wellington which is by far the biggest of the two. The Old Star is a grade II listed former farmhouse, known to have been a pub since at least 1822. The Duke dates from a similar time and once stood adjacent to a wheel-right’s’ barn. Not many of those left are there?
The Duke is an Enterprise Inn operation these days and has suffered mixed fortunes over the years. It has been closed and reopened several times as it’s fortunes ebbed and flowed, largely as a result of the quality and reputation of the food.
When on song with a good chef, the pub attracts people from surrounding towns and cities. Local trade from the village is it’s daily lifeline, so it is doubly important to get the food right in order to succeed.
The pub was latterly refurbished and re-opened in November 2016 when East Keswick girl Zoe took over the reins as a manager for Enterprise Inns. A new chef was appointed to take over the kitchens in January 2017 and he is revitalising the pub’s reputation.
The menu is classic pub food with a twist, whilst themed food nights are also featured.
Produce is supplied from local sources and is adjusted according to seasonal availability.
On our Thursday visit, it was steak night. Two steak meals with a bottle of house wine for £30 is a deal not to be sniffed at, though the usual a la carte and Specials menus are also available.
On entering, the overall impression was modern, clean and welcoming.
Wooden flooring and muted colours provided the background whilst old fashioned, comfortable furniture reflected the village setting. It is a homely place with several rooms off the main bar area.
The draught ales on my visit were Sharps’ Doom Bar and Leeds Pale with the excellent Birra Moretti and two more lagers on tap for lager drinkers. The usual suspects of keg beers were also present.
The pub holds a cask marque award for the quality of it’s ales.
I can confirm that the beers were on form.
We were greeted by the very friendly staff and made very welcome.
Having perused the Specials chalk board and the menu, I went for the lime and coriander crab-cake with chilli pot and salad. The light and fluffy cloud of a cake was delicious and subtle in taste.
Others in my party went for the charcuterie sharing board, at which I cast envious eyes, and a hearty bowl of sweet potato and chilli soup with a hunk of crusty bread.
The bowl of olives and feta cheese chunks was also a hit. A superb selection of starters.
Steak and Guinness pie with herbed potato cakes and beer battered broccoli proved too irresistible for three of my party. The large dishes of beautifully tender meat in gravy were topped by home-made short-crust pastry whilst the unusual broccoli dish had my guests in raptures.
This was an experimental side and the chef was keen to know how it had been received.
The feedback was very positive.
My own main of salmon fillet with new potatoes and asparagus spears in hollandaise sauce was excellent. We were very impressed, particularly as the high quality of the food came at very reasonable prices indeed. The slow cooked Irish stew with dumplings at under a tenner will have to wait until next time, for we will surely be returning.
Maybe we will have room for desserts or cheese next time too.
Meals are served Monday to Saturday except Tuesdays and the pub is open for Sunday lunches from noon to 6pm. Steak nights feature on Thursdays.
All day on Mondays there is an absolute bargain to be had as all mains are two for the price of one. This is incredible value for the quality provided.
Free wi-fi is available for technophiles.
With the food and the pub’s good name on an upward trajectory once more, the future is looking bright, so get in before it becomes frantic. Word is spreading quickly.
If you have your photograph taken, don’t forget to say CHEEEEEESE!
For further details, menus and a gallery of photographs go to www.thedukeeastkeswick.co.uk
Sat-navvers can follow the country lanes to find this haven at LS17 9DB.