THE Saturday after the now-famous Eat Out to Help Out scheme designed to break us of lockdown stay-at-home habits came to an end we found ourselves, inevitably, in a pub waiting to eat.

Well, it is what we do. But would the end of the scheme mean empty dining spaces across the country as the nation, having gorged itself on cut-price meals for a month, took a breather?

Would we find ourselves sitting in splendid isolation with waiting staff twiddling their thumbs and using their other digits to anxiously check out the online jobs sites on their phones?

Not a bit of it.

The Carpenters Arms at Felixkirk, near Thirsk, somewhat off the beaten track, was absolutely packed with people obviously happy to pay full price. And it was lunchtime too.

Being off the beaten track on the western fringe of the North York Moors National Park means the Carpenters attracts the sporty, outdoor types and there was an awful lot of lycra on show. There’s a national cycle route nearby so that probably explains why.

The cyclists largely kept to the outdoor terrace which does have the attraction of stupendous views across the Vales of York and Mowbray to the Dales in the distance and, rather nearer, the attractive gardens around which cluster the handful of modern rooms added to the Carpenters a few years ago.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

We stayed in one once. Very nice they are too, especially if you are the sort of sporty type who needs a lockable gun cupboard. Which you would if partaking of a bit of shooting on the nearby aforesaid moors.

But as the lunch was taken before the brief flirtation with an Indian summer arrived, we were happy to be inside in what’s described as the Garden restaurant, a contemporary dining space created when Provenance Inns refurbished the place ten years ago.

The company carried out a further refurb during the recent lockdown and the predominantly deep red colour scheme has been ditched for something more tranquil and muted but which pulls the old traditional pub bar and eating areas at the front and the more modern areas seamlessly together.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The Carpenters menu, seemingly not cut-down for pandemic reasons (we’ve never been entirely sure why some places have cut down their menus so drastically), follows the Provenance pattern of providing something for those who want to eat like a King and those who, if not exactly paupers, are looking for something more simple.

Like Sylvia’s vegetable soup (£6) – a soothing bowl of green goodness from the kitchen garden and the nearby Mount St Estate just up the hill – which came with sourdough bread.

My salt and chilli crispy squid (£8) served with sweet chill dipping sauce and a salad garnish dressed with rice wine didn’t look terribly appetising – grey and dusty – but appearances were deceptive. The saltiness didn’t overwhelm and neither did the chilli. There wasn’t a hint of rubberyness in the squid. Result.

Sylvia put aside the rather mixed message in the description “Aged Steak and Ale Pie” (£15) and was rewarded with the prettiest-looking individual pie, the pastry all golden brown with the gravy having seeped out in places and caramelised into brown, gooey more-ishness.

The steak within had certainly hung around long enough and was as tender as you like. The “Proper Gravy” which came with it was utterly correct and upstanding in its beefiness.

The chunky chips look a little anaemic but tasted just fine. As did the seasonal greens.

My slow-cooked shoulder of Yorkshire lamb (£19) – served with pea and courgette puree, a small globe artichoke and basil jus – had lots going for it not least the quality of the lamb.

But it had been cooked on the bone, stripped and reconstituted into a neat, vogueish, cylinder which was undoubtedly prettier than traditional slices but might not have been in its best interests as far as eating was concerned.

Perhaps in the re-packaging process too much of the sweet, moist, fat which makes lamb shoulder such a joy had been stripped away making the lean meat a tad too dry.

I know lamb fat is real turn-off for some people – like Sylvia – but there you go, I’ve always been Jack Sprat’s wife.

There followed the usual soul-searching about dessert. I knew I didn’t need one but I wanted one and by the time the waiter had returned to take an order resolve had been weakened by the prospect of a warm Yorkshire rhubarb and almond tart (£6.50) served with amaretto custard and a rhubarb gel. It was every bit as good as it sounds.

The New Zealand sauvignon blanc was pricey (£9.75 for 250 ml) but bang on. As was the service, despite there being not an empty table in sight.

Adding an aperitif and a coffee to the bill brought it to £70.70.

Those of you whose appetite for bargain has been whetted by the EOTHO scheme in August will be cheered by the fact that Provenance is running the scheme at its expense on exactly the same terms as the Government deal throughout September. Which means you’ve got Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week to take advantage. Book now.

The Carpenters Arms

Felixkirk, Thirsk YO7 2DP

Tel: 01845 537369 Web:

Open: Mon-Wed noon-4pm, 5.30-9.30pm; Thurs noon-4pm, 5.30-8.30pm; Fri-Sat noon-4pm, 5.30-10pm; Sun noon-4pm, 5.30-9pm NB kitchen service ends one hour before closing

Disabled access. All diets catered for.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, Service 10, Surroundings 10, Value 8