With a family outing to Harlow Carr Gardens planned during half term, our thoughts soon turned to where we’d get sustenance to set us up for the day. The Pine Marten which lies between Harrogate and Beckwithshaw, just down the road from the gardens was suggested (not by me). It sounded ideal for a spot of lunch, with the following couple of hours to work off full stomachs exploring the gardens with the kids.
It’s a lovely looking building and has benefitted from a full refurbishment completed a few years ago. The place was a venue I’d heard of a long time ago and on the surface, it seemed like somewhere you could have a lovely meal with family or friends.
It was fairly busy as expected, half term was in full swing with the place occupied with plenty of families doing the same thing as us. We were seated in a lovely room at a long table big enough for six adults and three kids, ordering drinks quite quickly. From then on things started to go a little bit pear-shaped – our food order took much longer as there was nobody around to take it from us. We looked for someone, even at the bar, but still to no avail as the bar was empty. Not only did ordering take ages, but our starters took ages to arrive too.
The other half and my father-in law both ordered Spicy lamb kofta, but finding them disappointing, I thought they were bland and there wasn’t much evidence of spice! Just two small balls of lamb, the rest of the plate comprised of salad, tzatziki and a sweet chilli jam which I thought was a bizarre choice of accompaniment, and unfortunately was the only thing that tasted of anything!
The Sticky Platter starter was a mish mash of starters including the same bland lamb kofta, ribs, basil chicken skewers and flatbread. It was alright, nothing more nothing less. What was very random was the presence of a slice of watermelon on the plate, (you can see it to the left of the sweet chilli jam). Yeah, you read it correctly!! WHY, I don’t get it!
My salt and pepper squid was more successful thankfully! They were tender with a light crisp exterior, the bit which wasn’t as successful was the garlic aioli which had lots of crushed pink peppercorns sprinkled on top, at times it really caught my throat, making me cough and wasn’t particularly pleasant.
With the starters getting a mix of both negatives and positives, I hoped things would improve but it didn’t really happen, as our table then took an aeon to be cleared. In my Uni days as a waitress working a busy service in a Chinese restaurant I would have been totally mortified doing that!! Luckily the kids were well-behaved, considering it took at least 20 minutes for the table to be fully cleared, unlike the children behind us who’d also been waiting and had started to lose the plot. When the table was finally cleared our main courses also took an age, with no apology or even an acknowledgement of the long delay.
Comments from the other half about his Carne Pizza were more like it. With a decent base and a tasty choice of toppings including chorizo, pulled chicken and Luganega sausage. So no complaints here on the pizza front.
Other dishes like the Yorkshire Ham were found to be pleasant enough, the ham was of the boiled variety and came with fried eggs and chips. I thought to look of was a bit meh though, if you know what I mean.
The pie which was really a Chicken and Yorkshire Ham filling with a pastry top, so NOT a pie was ok. Three of us had chosen linguine, it tasted nice, but mine had a chorizo oil slick, making the whole dish very oily. When comparing mine to the other two linguine dishes portion sizes and oil slicks were uneven.
The kids were the happiest of all of us I reckon with pizza and cod fish fingers going down a storm, at last someone was actually fully satisfied with their lunch.
One person had gone for a main course and dessert combo, picking a strawberry eton mess from a selection full of classics like sticky toffee pudding and creme brûlée. They thought the large portion of meringue and cream had the right amount of sweetness and were topped with a decent amount of fresh strawberries.
After all the waiting around, I think we were all ready to get out of there so tried to get the bill as the dessert was being eaten. Of course, it’s not the usual thing to do, but if you’d been at our table, you would have done the same thing!
The price of our lunch (two courses for 6 adults, 3 kids meals and drinks) was £175 without tip and lasted 2.5 hours!! Don’t get me wrong I’m all for a leisurely lunch, but there’s a time and a place for it, this wasn’t it! Also for the overall quality of the food and service I’m not sure if it’s worth the money either.
Food: Hit and miss, certainly could be better!!! Maybe the menu could be a little smaller, especially if they can’t manage to get dishes out in a reasonable time.
Service: Very slow! Every took ages – from ordering, getting our food and drinks, also clearing tables! Should waiting staff in an establishment like this be sorting out the bar as well as waiting tables? On many occasions the bar wasn’t manned at all.
Atmosphere: It was busy so there was a nice atmosphere, especially with school holidays.
I hate to say it but I do not recommend The Pine Marten, there’s definitely room for improvement.
Have you been to The Pine Marten before, what was your experience?
The Pine Marten