Review of The Traddock Hotel

Austwick, North Yorkshire Dales

Hotel Score: 4/10 

Restaurant Score: 3/10

We were on our way back north from Wiltshire and wanted a stop off 2/3rds of the way back home as now I’m getting on in years I’m not up to long drives any more, 150 miles is quite sufficient these days thank you. Motorway driving has never been top of my list either and the M5 seems to be nothing but roadworks for as long as I can remember with over half our journey regulated to 50mph because of them. So, you can imagine that when we did eventually arrive in Austwick and the Traddock Hotel in the North Yorkshire Dales we were ready for a pot of tea as a minimum!

I had trolled the internet and found this hotel; one I had not previously heard of so was looking forward to what both my wife and I hoped would be a great little find.

It’s a lovely looking building as too are most in this part of the world, I just love these stone buildings and the beautiful small villages dotted around. Check in proved interesting, firstly because the reception area and extension of the bar further down is in a corridor, strange and awkward too as there really is only space for one and anyone wanting to pass means that the passor and the passee both have to seriously breath in! When I made the booking it was on line and for the 1 night ‘Winter Warmer’ deal in a Superior Double which allowed for a Cream Tea on arrival, Dinner for 2 along with the normal B&B. I also got an email from the hotel with confirmation of the booking and a further email asking me to book a time for dinner, although these times were limited to either 6.30 or 8.30pm. Now 6.30 is way too early but given how far we had travelled that day 8.30 was definitely going to be too late as we would both be falling asleep over the main course so I plumped for 6.30 as the best of a bad deal.

We were asked for our name and were we dining? Okay so the receptionist had not read the booking form – no big deal. Right let’s take you to your room. Now at this point I should mention that these days, thanks to a bad knee, I walk with a stick (hopefully not for ever though), up a flight of stairs we went to the 1st floor where, upon arrival, the receptionist seemed to have lost our room, “oh dear looks like it’s on the next floor” she says so off we trundle (very slowly and painfully) up another flight of stairs only to find that someone had obviously moved the room since she last showed someone there as it was no longer up on the third floor but apparently now on the ground floor! Okay so back down we go, I definitely needed that cup of tea now!

The room, more like a Junior Suite, was good with a large King Size bed (which was a bit too soft for our liking but it was just one night), and off to one side a seating area with a sofa, coffee table and of course the necessary tea making facilities along with a view of the garden. The bathroom was a good size and with a good array of toiletries. 

Tea taken, a quick snooze on the sofa for a few minutes then it was ready to go in for dinner.

There are a lot of downstairs room at the Traddock, we chose a room beyond the bar to sit in and ordered drinks while we perused the menu. On this occasion, a very rare occurrence, we both chose the same dishes, Duck Liver Mousse to start followed by Pigeon Wellington and a bottle of Pinot Noir to drink.

It’s a shame I left my finger printing kit in the car though as had I had it with me I could have easily found out who set the table. Whoever it was had ironed the table cloth onto the table, a practice I heartedly agree with, but sadly they had left the said finger prints all over the glasses (along with a little lipstick) and the cutlery, never a good start.

The wine was lovely, I do love a good French Burgundy!

Having been a Chef for more years than I care to remember, held a Michelin Star for many years in two different establishments and many other accolades I have now to make a confession – I do not understand food in restaurants these days. Now bear in mind I worked for over 50 years in restaurants only giving up extremely recently. Please explain yourself – certainly!

When I go out for dinner it can be for a variety of reasons, to celebrate an occasion, for an experience, to simply go out for dinner, a whole variety of reasons, but one thing is for sure I go expecting a meal, not a snack, a meal.

The first course was fine but small and insubstantial. A very light parfait like mousse of duck liver finished with lightly pickled pear, toasted hazelnuts, red veined sorrel leaves and a slice of brioche, which to be fair was a bit stale. The mousse was grey but tasted fine, grey because it was poorly made leaving it looking unappetising. 3/10

The main looked fantastic, very picturesque. Two thick slices of (overly) rare wood pigeon encased in nicely browned but slightly undercooked pastry with a forcemeat which I quite liked albeit a little too firm yet my wife did not like at all sadly. What let this course down was the lack of accompanying vegetables which, given my earlier comment about a meal, rendered it not a proper meal. A length of savoy cabbage intertwined with three pieces of beetroot (under flavoured) and one piece of turnip and a little jus. 2.5/10

For dessert we chose differently this time, my better half went for the pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice crem while I decide on the chocolate mousse. Hers was quite substantial as it was a whole slice of pineapple nicely caramelised on a (too) thin sliver of burnt on the edges cake. My mouse was even less substantial than the first course and the three tiny orange segments went nowhere in making up the quantity or improving the quality. 3.5/10

Breakfast the following morning was okay in parts – a real curate’s egg of one. My wife asked for the compote of fruit but asked if they could add some sliced banana and some grapes as both were options on the menu, however the compote was more like a jam, it had been cooked down so far it was rendered too sticky and sweet, the banana came whole in it’s skin and the grapes a pile of loose ones on a plate. Mine, a cooked breakfast with most of the usual culprits, was good. What was really odd though was how the breakfast order was taken, we were given a marker pen and a plastic covered menu and had to tick off what we wanted, I’ve not experienced that before, t’was very odd! We had ticked toast and I guess just assumed as there was two of us we would get toast for 2 but given all we got was one slice of brown and one slice of white I do not think that was for two. We also had to ask for more sugar as the bowl was almost empty, oh and I was asked if I would like salt and pepper pots? Too right, a fried egg without seasoning - ugh! 

The building is lovely, it is large and spacious and comfortable but is sadly let down slightly by, in the main, small things that are easily rectified, it is billed as an AA 5 Silver Star Hotel with 2 AA Rosettes. Is it? Yes probably, at a push, would we go back? Yes, if only to give it another chance. You may recall earlier on in this report that I mentioned the package we were on and you may be wondering why I omitted and further mention of the afternoon tea, simply put we did not get it, it was not offered and to be honest we were probably to tired and would not have partaken but that is not the point, the point is it was not offered and should have been, especially after trapsing us all around every floor of the hotel.

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