Ye Old Sun Inn, Colton review - Wonderful village inn definitely worth the trip
The fine line between being a village inn, right at the heart of local life, and a destination gastropub, attracting diners from across a wide area, is a difficult one to tread – particularly if you are keen to do both.
I’ve seen one or two which slip either side of that line, snubbing the locals by giving too much attention to the incomers, or allowing the regular drinkers to hold sway to the detriment of the visiting diners.
But before you jump in the car and head up Selby Road, take note that this is the Colton between Tadcaster and York, not the one between Halton and Garforth. Quite why there are two villages of the same name within just a few miles is beyond me, but this one is certainly worth going the extra distance.
It’s late February when we make the journey, driving past vast lakes of floodwater between the A64 and the breweries of Tadcaster, before following the winding country roads south of the town to Colton.
Stepping inside, we arrive in a snug whose ceiling is stuckled up with yellowing newspaper pages, and dotted with the lapel tags worn by racegoers.
Here a small bar offers a choice of real ales from which I choose the easy-going, pale and golden Lightheart from the Yorkshire Heart brewery at Nun Monkton.
And, with my wife clutching her glass of red wine, we are shown through to a table in the smart dining room, part of an extension which was built by owners Ashley and Kelly McCarthy.
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The red brick gable, once the end wall of the original building, is decorated with old enamelled signs, while a tailor’s dummy has been dressed in an ancient Admiralty uniform, for no reason that’s immediately obvious.
There are paintings of the pub and stylised embossed suns; chunky Hendrick’s gin bottles have been pressed into service as table lamps.
The toilets have some quirky touches too – there are framed pages of vintage children’s comics in the gents, curling tongs and deodorant in the ladies.
Having scanned the online menu before we set off, I have already made a mental note of my choices, but before dinner comes, a nice touch is the arrival of an amuse bouche – a slate spread with chunky, crispy, home-made tortillas, dusted with spices and with a jug of a creamy olive and sundried tomato dip.
This sort of a bonus treat is something you generally only get in high-end restaurants, and it speaks volumes for the service values placed on the business by the McCarthys.
The softness of the beer sits nicely alongside a black pudding scotch egg, oozing yolk. Across the table, the tagine is a flatbread smothered in a swamp of chickpeas, aubergine, salad and onion.
I switch to the darker and more substantial bright and copper-coloured Black Sheep for my main course. The firm and malty nature of this old favourite lends the robustness needed to stand up to the meaty, spicy assault of chunky pork sausages, mash, caramelised onions and a thick, rich onion gravy.
My wife speaks highly of her chicken supreme, filled with a garlic mousse and smothered in mushrooms and lentils.
Two coffees end a splendid evening’s dining at this wonderful village inn.
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Ye Old Sun Inn factfile
Address: Main Street, Colton, LS24 8EP
Type: Village inn and gastropub
Hosts: Ashley and Kelly McCarthy
Opening times: 10.30am-2pm and 6-11pm Wed-Thurs, 10.30am-11pm Fri-Sat, noon-10pm Sun. Closed Mon-Tue.
Beers: Changing selection of real ale and cask beers
Wine: Great choice
Food: Hearty pub dining, plus pizza menu
Functions: Wedding packages available
Accommodation: Double rooms from £120 for B&B
Disabled: Straightforward access
Beer Garden: Yes
Parking: Large area to the side
Telephone: 01904 744261