WE’RE limbering up for the August EatOutathon. From August 3 to the end of the month, we will be extracting full value from our local MP’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative.

That’s the local MP as in the member for Richmond (Yorks) who some of you may have noticed happens to be Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

And I know some of you will also think that my life is a permanent EatOutathon because of my regular contributions to this column.

I take your point. Sometimes it does feel like that.

But you may have noticed absence from hostelries over the last four months has made this heart grow fonder and so far, since July 4, we’ve managed to eat out no fewer than five times. And believe it or not I’ve not put a pound on. Sylvia too. What a good boy and girl.

So onward and upwards as we tour some of the favourites we’ve missed during lockdown, like the Ox at Crayke we reviewed so enthusiastically last week and Santoro at Yarm which we would have reviewed but we are too well known there now to get away with writing about it and being seen to be truly impartial. But it was good, as it always is.

Before lockdown, the Wednesday night steak night (two whoppers with all the trimmings and a bottle of wine for thirty smackers) at the Black Bull at Moulton had become something of a regular rendezvous. A return visit was very appealing.

The new normal at the Black Bull means would-be diners have access to a “reassurance brochure” which details all the precautions the Bull (and its sister Provenance Inns – which include the Carpenters Arms at Felixkirk and the Cleveland Tontine) have taken to ensure a safe dining experience.

That means the Bull’s famous bar is out of bounds but the contemporary restaurant is pretty much as it was. Maybe a few tables have been removed but the layout was already spacious so little needed to be changed.

That steak night offer is not currently available. The economics of running a restaurant have changed so much in the new world that it seems it will not be back for a while.

There’s a cut-down Covid-19 menu and the main casualty is the fish/seafood offering which the Bull has always been famous for. Yes there is some fish but if you were thinking of, say, a whole Dover sole, some turbot or a seafood platter, think again unless something turns up in the form of a special.

There’s clearly a careful eye being cast on wastage too. I’d fancied a Yorkshire wagyu burger but after ordering was told the last one had gone. And I know exactly where as the neighbouring table (three metres away in case you were wondering) was served with two of them. They looked good.

I’d rather hurriedly chosen a pasta dish as a replacement which is something I rarely do on the grounds that pasta served in a restaurant outside Italy is rarely better than something you could rustle up at home.

The lemon and olive oil-tossed pappardelle (£14) was a vibrant pink colour thanks to the small roasted beets that were also in there, along with spinach, toasted pinenuts and some crumbled ewe’s milk cheese. It was fresh and summery, the pasta was spot-on and I was rather glad that it had come my way because of the run on burgers.

Sylvia fish and chips were similarly excellent. The Black Sheep beer battered haddock (£14) – super-fresh, firm fillet – with cracking chunky chips, mushy peas and a really lovely, smooth tartare sauce went down the proverbial treat.

I also had a starter and a dessert. The salmon and smoked salmon fishcake (£7) was good but it was the broad beans, peas and lemon and caper butter sauce it was surrounded by which really stole the show. Again, a sharp-summery freshness made it memorable.

The dessert – Iced chocolate, coffee mocha mousse with cookie crumb, clotted cream and passion fruit curd (£7) – looked a real mess having hung around a bit before arrival with the mousse and iced chocolate having melted into a something approaching the consistency of crunchy soup.

But it tasted pretty heavenly which more than made up for its slightly disconcerting appearance.

Our bottle of wine – a £27 bottle of Picpoul which we’ve got a bit of a thing about at the moment – made it a quite a pricey meal considering our modest choices but like the Ox last week the Bull is a high-class joint run by people who know what they are doing.

Having said that service was by no means lightning-fast and had we been looking for a quick in and out meal it might have seemed pretty sluggish. The Bull was busy for an early-week evening with only a couple of tables in the big dining room unoccupied. Which would please Rishi.

What we imagined was a reduced staff, both front of house and in the kitchen, did an excellent job under the circumstances.

Eating Out in August? Bring it on.

The Black Bull

Moulton, Richmond DL10 6QJ

Tel: 01325 377556 Web: www.theblackbullmoulton.com

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, Service 8, Surroundings 8, Social distancing 9 Value for money 7