THE last time the column called at the Dog and Gun at Knayton it provoked something of a diplomatic incident.

The locals took exception to what was a lukewarm review, which rather damned with faint praise. There were letters to the D&S expressing solidarity with the then owner and saying our comments amounted to character assassination on a grand scale.

The editor was urged to sack the reviewer but unfortunately they were one and the same person so that didn’t happen.

It was a long time ago when village pubs were closing in droves and no doubt the good folk of Knayton thought a less-than-gushing review was just the thing to do for their prized local – a half decent pub being much better than no pub.

The Dog and Gun did survive D&S judgment day - perhaps because the locals rallying round to right the perceived injustice meted out by the local paper gave it just the boost it needed. But I’ll not claim credit for fear of stimulating further village outrage. These days, the editor could sack me.

So, about a decade later we returned to the Dog and Gun with a degree of trepidation but noted that the Wanted: Dead or Alive posters had been removed and the lady behind the bar smiled broadly as we walked in through the door.

The Palliser family took over four years ago with daughter Lucy running the kitchen and mother Sam (the lady with the big smile) front of house.

We called towards the end of service on a Saturday lunchtime and trade appeared to have been brisk – a mix of locals in for a swift one before the rugby and eager diners. We selected a table with a view of the bar, the entrance and the main eating area. Sylvia does like a good observational perch – not that she’s nosey of course.

We approved of what we saw. It is a long time since our previous visit but our impression was that it had not changed dramatically. The black-beamed ceiling and brick fireplace are probably as they have been for centuries, but the open fire has been replaced by a wood-burner and the horse brasses have been ditched for more contemporary knick-knackery. Sylvia liked the merlot-red walls in the two slightly more formal dining areas and the sturdy wicker chairs in the bar.

There was also plenty to see on the lunch menu – five starters, eight mains plus a few blackboard specials and a “build-a-burger” menu (select your choice of burger/bun/topping/salad/chips for £12.95).

Much of it is locally sourced with Hodgsons of Hartlepool (Fish), Country Valley of Darlington and Moorhouse Farm Butchers of Kilburn (meat) among the suppliers.

Sylvia said it had been absolutely ages since she had enjoyed her favourite prawns and here they were on the specials menu – six or seven king-sized beauties for £7.25, panko breadcrumbed, fried to a crunchy just-cooked perfection and served with a piquant sweet chilli and lime dipping sauce.

My chicken liver pate (£5.25) was pretty prosaic in comparison but I can’t say there was anything wrong with it. Served with some crunchy sliced radish and toasted brioche, a sweet onion chutney relish livened things up considerably.

Sylvia’s main course fillet steak baguette (£8.95) came with some chunky chips and a home-made coleslaw – more of which later. The tender strips of steak were mixed with fried onions and gravy. Sylvia’s verdict: excellent.

My first choice – the chef’s pie (chicken, smoked bacon, mushrooms and onions in a white wine, thyme and cream sauce) – had run out sadly but the fish finger sandwich (£8.95) was more than adequate compensation. Goujons of firm white fish in a soft bap were accompanied by the same very good chunky chips and the coleslaw which was clearly homemade and exceptional – crunchy, creamy and with a hint of something sharp.

After two courses, we couldn’t manage desserts so settled our bill - £43.15 – and that included £12.75 at the bar (two small glasses of house white wine, a sparkling mineral water and a diet coke).

Service was informal but mightily efficient. We’ve already mentioned landlady Sam’s big smile; it’s clearly an attitude she has encouraged among other members of the team who were equally accommodating. Daughter Lucy is clearly an accomplished chef.

So good folk of Knayton, we trust all is forgiven. You have a thriving village pub and deservedly so.


The Dog and Gun, Knayton, near Thirsk, YO7 4AZ

Tel: 01845 537368


Open for food: Wednesday-Thursday 5.30-9pm; Saturday noon-2pm and 5-9pm; Sunday noon-6pm

Disabled access. Specialist diets catered for

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8, Service 9, Surroundings 8, Value 8