The decision to rate this place average is not one I have taken lightly. This has always been a special place for us, having spent countless special occasions and family meals here a couple of times a year for a long time. Unfortunately, having returned for our birthday meal on Friday (my mother-in-law and I share the same birthday and my husband's is a couple of days before) we were very disappointed. We understand the hotel has been under new ownership for the last couple of years and it is clear that, for whatever reason, standards have slipped. Before I go on, perhaps I ought to add that this is not a place you go to for a regular-priced meal and so at £250 for the 5 of us (plus tip and a couple of rounds of drinks at around £30 a time), it is not as easy to overlook inadequacies and to just accept them as the accoutrements of modern society. You learn to accept that on more occasions than not, you get substandard service, attitude problems in staff who don't seem to want to be there, mediocre food etc. which is why when you make the choice to go somewhere like this, you expect a little more. Even silver service. As near to perfection as you're probably going to get short of dining at The Ritz. Monk Fryston Hall used to deliver on this. Unfortunately, things have changed somewhat. Some of these points when isolated may seem a little fastidious and petty, however add them all together and as a hotel charging these kind of prices for dinner, you have a problem, especially when there is so much competition where one could get so much higher standards of service. Firstly, I ordered Pimms for my pre-dinner drink. It came with none of the garnish necessary to complete the drink. If you're not going to offer the cucumber, mint, strawberry etc then don't offer the product. Secondly, the place was almost completely empty except for a table of two and a couple of young waiters hanging around thus there was an absence of any kind of atmosphere. I have to say that the Hall could be like this is the past on occasion but the dining experience from beginning to end felt so luxurious that I never minded this. Perhaps if the menu wasn't so expensive or if the Hall offered deals or even a table d'hote menu as it used to, this might draw a few more people in? The wine list certainly is a bit top end for what are middle of the road wines. I made the mistake of ordering the scallops for my starter. Perhaps this was just me or perhaps it was the concoction - raw 'pickled' cauliflower, radish, some strange and seemingly tasteless mousse pressed into discs all coated in an unpleasant basil dressing - that was somebody else's mistake. Also, the brown bread roll tasted of ginger which didn't help matters. I just couldn't help feeling throughout that somebody was trying too hard (in some areas, and not enough in others) and that the result was an overcomplicated mish-mash with no real focus. For my main course, I chose the beef medallions, as did my father-in-law and we both agreed that they - along with the celeriac mash - were a little tasteless. The plate was also very bland as it came with no other veg. In the past, the waiting staff would come with tureens of potatoes done various ways and vegetables and serve them to you. I think when you are paying £20ish for a main course, any necessary accompaniments should be included within this price and it is a little cheeky to list them as extra in order to stick on a few quid. My husband ordered the steak and had to ask for a steak knife. The wine was brought to the table already open and stuck on the table for us to pour ourselves as and when. Nobody brought it to show us to check if it was the right one, asked us to taste it or offered to pour. Basically, there was no service at all let alone the attention to detail that Monk Fryston used to be known for. The old fashioned touches, silver tableware and quaint teasets seemed to have been updated for more modern run-of-the-mill kitchenware. The chocolates served with the coffee were of the Elizabeth Shaw variety; nice enough, but where are the individual and handmade little petit-fours and different coloured truffles? It was at this time that somebody came over to us and said, "I hope you don't mind but here is your bill as the receptionist is wanting to get off now." In fact, had we not purposely slowed down the whole evening, we would have been in and out within the hour and £300+ lighter. What should have been a long-lingering celebratory family meal was, well, a bit of a damp squib really. With a 3 year-old child, nights out are hard to come by, certainly ones of this nature and so next time I get the opportunity, I'm afraid it won't be at Monk Fryston Hall.
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