Even on the first day of autumn the leaves of Guisborough Forest were noticeably tinted with red, orange and brown hues as we passed, and the road was dotted with beams of light which broke through the canopy above. This idyllic drive was rounded off nicely when we arrived to find The King’s Head Inn nestled at the foot of one of the North York Moors’ most recogniseable landmarks, Roseberry Topping.
The inn itself sits at the bottom of the hill, built of sandstone and brick and as welcoming as a proper country pub should be. Inside, the ground floor is one large bar-cum-dining area broken up by pillars and screens and designed in a contemporary faux-rustic style – with beamed ceilings, tartan chairs, sturdy wooden tables and walls that mix exposed brick with wooden cladding.
We are shown to a table and order a couple of drinks. There are three of us dining today and I swiftly order (my favourite) a refreshing glass of South African Sauvignon Blanc, which is perfectly chilled and off-dry with light and fruity flavours. One of my dining companions opts for a cold pint of San Miguel and the designated driver chooses a pot of green tea, which comes in a generous teapot with a matching cup and saucer.
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon for us, but the inn is alive with dog walkers with their four-legged friends at the foot of the table, hikers and families out for a traditional lunch. The menu is crammed with options stretching from classic roasts to pub favourites, none of which is limited to a specific day.
I start off with the deep-fried potato skins (£4.95) which are served as a towering pile of thick-cut, golden potato slices – fried to perfection – with pots of garlic mayonnaise and barbecue sauce for dipping. This dish could have been the main event in itself, but my dining companions were more than happy to assist me with finishing up. They had ordered the deep-fried crispy chilli beef strips (£6.95) which came in a small bowl with stir-fried noodles, crunchy spring onions and a more-ish, ginger and soy sauce. My second guest opted for the herbed goats’ cheese and vegetable tart (£6.95) – a light puff pastry tart filled with baked courgette, tomatoes, olives and goats’ cheese, served with dressed leaves. Despite it being large, it was still light and easily finished without spoiling her next course.
For which, two of us chose the roast pork (£10.95) which came with all the traditional trimmings. The meat was succulent and much to our delight came with a thick and flavoursome slither of crackling, which wasn’t mentioned on the menu. On the side we enjoyed giant roast and new potatoes, a crisp on the outside but stodgy in the middle Yorkshire pudding, seasonal vegetables and lashings of gravy. The only item in absence was stuffing, which we both agreed would have gone well with the dish. Our third party member veered off Sunday tradition (but stuck very much to a Teesside one) and chose the chicken parmesan (£13.95). It was a ginormous breaded chicken breast, deep-fried and covered with a homemade creamy béchamel sauce, topped with grilled mature cheddar cheese and mozzarella. The feast could have filled all three of us and was served with homemade golden chips, dressed salad leaves and garlic mayonnaise. You could add extras into the mix and so she had opted for mushrooms and chilli, which were embedded in the cheese. Luckily she likes spice – which this dish definitely delivered – but this addition is not for the faint-hearted.
The mammoth portion sizes took desserts out of the equation for all three of us but there were plenty of tempting options to choose from here. Full to the brim we loaded ourselves back into the car and, with Roseberry Topping sinking into the distance, we decided to return soon for a walk up to the top followed by a well-deserved pub lunch – with desserts this time.
The King’s Head Inn, The Green,
Newton under Roseberry,
Great Ayton TS9 6QR