You don’t have to spend long scrolling through a twitter feed these day to find photos of food - it’s a popular pastime not just with diners (guilty) but chefs keen to show off their talent.
Which is what took me to the understandably highly regarded Falcon Inn at Fotheringhay on Saturday.
Yes, I was very aware of its reputation - the restaurant has won all sorts of awards in the past couple of years - but it was the stunning photos a couple of weeks ago which convinced me to pay a visit.
And boy am I glad that I did.
It is a grand old place on the main road through the village which is steeped in history, most of it relating to the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots at the old Fotheringhay castle.
It is also the birth place of Richard III whose heraldic shield depicting a falcon gave the inn its name.
Right, back to the present. The pub retains its rustic charm - roaring fire, wooden floor - but we dined in the large and light summer room which offers great views of the magnificent old church.
It’s nicely decorated and laid out with quite comfortable wicker seats.
The winter menu meant there was plenty of feel-good food to be had – roast partridge, game casserole, slow-cooked shoulder of lamb.
First up though, the starters. For me, something I had seen on a menu during a meal out last month and missed out on – pan seared scallops with black pudding, marinated pork belly and a vanilla pomme puree.
The scallops were delicate and adorable, the black pudding had a strong peppery taste the way it should and the pork belly ever so sweet, soft and juicy. The crackling and streaky bacon went down well too.
The specials board featured an enticing smoked salmon benedict but Donna decided to go with the crab and king prawn tian - never having tried one before. It certainly looked good and wasn’t lacking in flavour either; lovely layered chunks of crabmeat and prawn, with fresh tasting cherry tomatoes and pea shoots topped off with a saffron and mustard dressing.
After two great starters, the main had a lot to live up to and I went with the mouth-watering braised shin of beef with horseradish mash and roasted root vegetables and a red wine gravy.
I love slow-cooked meat and the shin had a really strong, distinctive flavour, helped by the wonderful red wine gravy I might add.
To be honest I never picked up on the horseradish, but the vegetables were beautifully cooked and the carrots in particular, with an aniseed aftertaste, irresistible.
It is fair to say head chef Peter Lane has an eye for presentation and certainly likes big flavours.
Donna’s eyes almost glazed over at the thought of the fish-lover’s delight that awaited her.
The steamed seabass fillet was absolutely terrific, the samphire proved as always a great accompaniment for a fish dish, and the razor clam beautiful; a lot of strong flavours individually but with a salmon mousse and mussel sauce it was just too rich a combination even for her.
We skipped desserts, although our two-year-old, Jasmine, made light work of a bowl of thick, rich chocolate ice cream.
All in all an excellent lunch - great food in a lovely setting and wonderful service.
9 out of 10
Malted, spiced parsnip soup and homemade bread (V) £5.50
Crispy duck salad with Asian slaw and coriander dressing £6.50
Twice baked cheese soufflé with celeriac remoulade £6.00
Whole roast partridge with dauphinoise potatoes, farmhouse
cabbage, bread sauce, game chips and pan gravy £15.00
Local game casserole with thyme dumplings and curly kale £12.50
Slow cooked shoulder of lamb with a herb crust and a potato
and Mediterranean vegetable stack £14.50
Chargrilled 8oz rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce, roasted tomato, flat mushroom, watercress and chips £19.00
Spiced fruit crumble with plum custard £5.50
Hot chocolate fondant with white chocolate ice cream £6.50
Christmas pudding parfait with mulled wine jelly & cranberry granité £6.50
A selection of our homemade ice creams and sorbets £5.50
There is also the option of nibbles and sandwiches, a set lunchtime and evening menu (£13.50 for two courses, add a third course for an extra £4), a special platter for two which looked terrific (£16) and a Sunday lunch menu available.
Details correct at 4/2/15