Super service marks Pilgrim’s progress...

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Forgotten phone brings out best in restaurant staff as refurbished pub proves popular

It’s a warm spring evening, the sun is setting behind the brutalist icon of Harworth colliery headstocks and we’re ordering food at the 18th century Pilgrim Fathers pub in rural Scrooby.

An idyllic moment shattered by the sudden realisation that I had left my phone at a friend’s house and have to dash off to get it.

My wife takes her seat in the recently remodelled pub and explains the situation as she starts to order our food. Cue messages to the kitchen, explanations of timings and situation and what can only be described as top class customer service.

Within moments the chef himself is out at the table explaining to my wife that it would be best to wait until we’re both there to order and that there will be no problem at all.

Nicely done and much appreciated.

So why a Scrooby do?

Sometimes on such a lovely evening you fancy a run out and it is a beautiful area on the Nottinghamshire/Yorkshire border.

For starters I went for sausage pate with port with crusty bread and salad.

My wife loved it and declared it the highlight of the evening but I raved about her entire shoal of whitebait starter.

The tiny fish - often mackerel sprats in this country - is breadcrumbed and fried whole, with head, guts fins and all.

These were excellent and enough to feed a family. Crisp and light they came with a salad and tartare sauce and were delicious.

As was the sausage pate. Rich and with perhaps a slight edge of liver, the sausage gave the pate texture and flavour and the port a hint of sweetness and not a little class. Very good. The salad was fine though the bread a little limp and the crust lacked oomph.

The Pilgrim Fathers was named after the... er… Pilgrim Fathers, religious zealots who travelled in the early 17th century to what became America to be free to establish their ways of worshipping.

Scrooby Manor is the former home of William Brewster who became a religious elder in Plymouth colony, Massachusetts, in 1621 and is believed to have started the American tradition of Thanksgiving when he and like-minded souls are said to have shared their harvest with native Americans.

It might even be true.

What is true is that the Pilgrim Fathers pub has a good feel to it, roomy but cosy, with new and eclectic interior and outside seating which looked very welcoming with its space heaters and low-level lighting.

I had a Timothy Taylor’s Le Champion - Black Sheep is available too - a decent brew which went well with the starters.

Our main courses were nicely presented and plentiful. The baby back ribs were swimming in rich barbecue sauce, the meat fall-off-the-bone tender. My cheese and mash topped cottage pie looked amazing, had celery, leeks and peppers in with the beef and gravy and came with peas, chips and more gravy.

The topping on the pie was very rich and tasty, the mash and mince fine but the gravy seemed a little over-flavoured and salty.

The chips - as appears to be the way at many pubs in our region these days - were at least twice cooked and excellent.

At the next table sat five well-to do ladies with talk of York Races, the folly of buying a Skoda and the shortcomings of their menfolk.

I eavesdropped in terror, pretending to be minding my own business.

Chef and boss Christopher Jessop joined them for a chat. He is very keen on the customer experience.

“We took over last year and had the place refurbished,” said 52-year-old Christopher who has run pubs across the region.

“It had been a struggling local pub for years and we gave it a bit of life. The food has gone really well. We have 60 bookings already for Christmas Day, we served 350 Sunday lunches this week and had 80 meals on Monday which is brilliant.

“We still have the snug for the local drinkers and it seems to work well.”

So well that owners Enterprise Inns are thinking of extending.

“The barn at the back is apparently the place where the Pilgrim Fathers used to meet before they went to the New World,” added Chris.

“It would make a great function area so we’re thinking about parties and weddings for there.”

For dessert I chose strawberry trifle which had enough custard and cream to send me home glassy eyed and sated, though the strawberry layer could have done with more fruit.

My wife had ‘to-die-for’ chocolate cake with ice cream, both of which were more than acceptable but nothing to risk one’s life over.

The stand-out feature was the staff and their friendliness and consideration - and the outside seating.

Five-star service on a lovely spring evening in a very attractive pub.

Those pilgrims don’t know what they’re missing.

Our bill for three courses and a pint of Le Champion came to £47.30.

Star ratings out of five:

Food - 3

Atmosphere - 4

Service - 5

Value - 4

The Pilgrim Fathers, Great North Road, Doncaster, DN10 6AT, Tel. (01302) 714271.