Advantages Big portions, reasonably priced, efficient service
Disadvantages Lacking atmosphere, food terrible
Chequers is a pub, restaurant and hotel in the village of Bishop Thornton near Harrogate in North Yorkshire on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales. We didn't stay but visited for dinner so this review will be focused on the restaurant.Chequers is essentially a roadside pub and restaurant in the middle of a small hamlet/village and I would assume gets a fair amount of passing trade plus locals given the seeming rarity of eateries nearby. It's a large pub painted white from the outside and looking seemingly grand. The pub section is on the roadside and has a charming traditional pub look to it and looks recently decorated. There is ample parking in the rear and at the side of the building with the hotel also at the rear and in an out building.
Inside the pub is traditional in it's decor and dominated by the central carvery buffet around which everything seems to orientate. Tables and chairs have a classic pub feel and are tightly packed in. We were advised that booking a table was necessary and i could see why a this place was busy full of diners.The menu choice was decent but fairly classic pub food with the addition of the carvery. Value for money was excellent with most meals, including the carvery, coming in at under £10 for enormous portion sizes, particularly the carvery, which was all you can eat.
Food not from the carvery arrived promptly and the carvery itself ran very efficiently despite the queue. I ate fish and chips, which was more akin to whale and chip in size. Unfortunately what it made up for in size, it lacked in quality. The fish itself was very dry and the batter think although decently crispy. The chips were plentiful but a little greasy and oily meaning they weren't as crisp as they should have been. The accompanying mushy peas were luminous in colour and too liquidy with a strange aftertaste like something had been added - I would rather have had garden peas or at least the option.I also sampled someone else's carvery (the sacrifices we make for the sake of a review!). To my disappointment, the meat was overcooked and felt a little like it had been sitting on the hot plate for some time. The roast potatoes though we're very good with wonderfully crunchy outsides. Yorkshire puddings were enormous and light, fluffy and airy. The rest of the vegetables however faired less well and were cooked to death, washed out, tasteless and limp. Those that ate the carvery enjoyed it so maybe I'm being too critical but it felt like a throwback to horrid English cooking of yesteryear where cooking things to death was the only option.
In fact, the whole place felt a little like a throwback to roadside restaurants of yesteryear, feeling more Little Chef than Jamie Oliver. This was echoed by the service that was efficient but lacking spark, or a smile for that matter.The restaurant and lavatories were both very clean but there just wasn't much love there. It lacked any kind of buzz or vibe. It did seem to mainly cater for the blue rinse brigade which may explain a little about the food quality but still, it lacked warmth and atmosphere.
Drinks-wise, they had a decent selection of local-ish ales that had been kept well. The wine list was paltry and seemingly limited to well known wines.We visited out of necessity as the pub in the village we were staying was closed. I'm not sure I would return purely voluntarily...
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