“It is no accident that the symbol of a Bishop is a crook and the sign of an Archbishop is a double cross”
George Edlington Dix (1901-1952.) Letter to The Times 1927.
Escrick is a lovely village on the A19 in North Yorkshire, between Selby and York, only a couple of miles from the McArthur Glen outlet on the A64.
The village formed around the beautiful, stone built, 14th century St. Helens church and benefits from a traditional village green and pond.
I don’t know if the local religious leaders deserved such vitriol at that time or what caused Mr.Dix to have such an opinion, but the building itself is certainly impressive.
The Parsonage Hotel and Spa, right next to the church, is a wonderfully relaxing place, set in 6 acres of woodland and formal gardens.
It was built in 1840 and sympathetic restoration over the years has retained many of the original features, incorporating them into a modern environment. It flies somewhat under the radar regionally, though well known locally.
BUT, it is not about this lovely hotel or the magnificent church that I write, for in the grounds of the hotel is a new ‘gastro-pub’, the Fat Abbot, though you may stay here too after a few post-prandial brandies, for it has three enticing and modern en-suite double bedrooms.
On driving into the hotel grounds, the trees were hung with very tasteful strings of white lights. Parking is easy in the large car park.
The restaurant is a stand alone, modern, red-brick building which looks lovely from the outside. It has a couple of outside tables overlooking the lawns.
On entering, the large open plan internal space comes into view. From the bar, to the left and right are dining areas, whilst adjacent to it is a comfortable lounge with easy chairs and leather sofas. This area has a log burning stove for colder months.
Large bi-fold doors lead from the lounge to the outside patio area which overlooks the spa and indoor pool.
The pub is decorated in a contemporary style, it nevertheless has an oak beamed ceiling which compliments the overall look. It has wooden flooring and mismatched, though well-kept furniture.
At the bar it was good to see four real ales on tap. York Brewery’s Guzzler, Bombardier, Black Sheep and their own branded Abbot Ale (in reality Wainwright’s Gold). A couple of lagers and an American IPA completed the line up. The beers were on good form.
We were greeted in a friendly manner and shown straight to our table where drinks orders were taken.
Starters are all around the £6 – £7 mark, mains from £12 – £18, steaks from £17-
£22 and all desserts are £7. There is a grill menu too from £17- £22. Around the average prices for this part of the world.
I took a Thai spiced fishcake for starter, which came with a refreshing lemongrass and coriander veloute, dotted with coriander oil. Thinly sliced lengths of lemongrass and carrot supplemented this lovely dish. Very fresh and tasty and not too spicy. Delicious.
Around the table, ham hock and parsley terrine with pease pudding and piccalilli puree, as well as the confit duck bites with Asian salad and dipping sauce were also very impressive and beautifully presented.
My main was a simple gammon, roast pineapple, fried egg, onion rings and triple cooked chips and was gorgeous. Simple but so well done.
Bourguignon of beef with herb dumpling and mash was also a resounding success, the beef in particular being tender and lean.
Only one of my party managed a dessert, a lovely dish of bread and butter pudding with vanilla anglaise and honeycomb ice cream.
Staff were attentive, professional and friendly so a win-win all round. We would certainly return to further sample the lovely food on offer.
I don’t know who the Fat Abbot was but by the look of the pub sign, he was a friendly, jolly chap. Perhaps he would even have been able to pacify Mr.Dix. His pub will be a big hit regardless.
For more information go to : www.thefatabbotyork.co.uk and set the sat-nav for YO19 6LF