A historical region of England, Yorkshire is a beautiful place treasured by all who have the good fortune to spend time within its extensive bounds. The diverse landscape encompasses the North York Moors National Park and stretches into the Yorkshire Dales. The Pennine Mountain Range forms a rocky spine down its centre, and its easterly edge gives way to the slate-blue waves of the vast North Sea. Its ribboned glens, limestone pavements, rolling fields and shattered mountainous peaks make it a popular destination for hikers, cyclists, climbers and wild swimmers alike.
Its 2.9 million acres of verdant fields, rugged moor and sea-stung coastline also means Yorkshire has an outstanding natural larder, with many award-winning restaurants to match. Its widely embraced field-to-fork ethos secures its standing as one of the top foodie destinations in the UK, so while visitors will likely get delightfully muddy tramping through the dales, it’s in the knowledge that a delicious meal awaits their return. Read on to discover a handful of the best fine dining destinations this enchanting county has to offer.
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In the southerly folds of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where the sky feels as if it’s been stretched big, bright and blue above rolling green fields, is the Secret Garden bistro. Found in the centre of the pretty village of Malham, the restaurant is part of Beck Hall, which was originally established in 1705 as a yeoman’s cottage and is now an intimate and bespoke hotel.
The restaurant’s decor blurs the line between inside and outside. Trailing plants hang from the ceiling, and glass doors fold away to let the fresh air waft in across the tables. Much of the restaurant’s produce is grown or sourced locally: diners only need turn their heads to spot the cattle grazing contentedly on the hillsides beyond. The food is playfully inspired by the eccentric explorer Mr Hardacre who first discovered Beck Hall back in the 1930s and set it up as a wayfarers hostel. The dishes are, therefore, pleasingly seasonal, with the occasional exotic twist.
The location of the Secret Garden makes it the perfect place to drink, dine and relax after a day of exploring the magnificent limestone landscape of the Dales.
Just a 15-minute walk away is Malham Cove, considered to be one of Britain’s top ten geological wonders. Formed during the last Ice Age, this spectacular cliff forms a striking wall that draws the eye skyward where, long ago, a huge waterfall cascaded from the valley’s upper reaches. The glacier that created the great white amphitheatre also helped form the barren rocky plateaus that characterise the Dales today. Scraped and scoured by ice over 12,000 years ago, the acidic rainwater dissolved the rock, leaving a landscape fissured and ribboned in stone. Grykes (as they are known) now shelter a wonderful variety of plants. Look out for hart’s-tongue fern, baneberry, and dog’s mercury as you walk.
Gordale Scar, a hidden, atmospheric ravine, is less than an hour’s walk along the public footpath that winds its way from Malham Village. If visiting, make sure to stop at Janet’s Foss – a lovely waterfall tucked amongst the deciduous trees of pea-green leaf. With water so cool, clear and inviting, it’s a popular spot for walkers to take a post-hike dip. Like Malham Cove, Gordale Scar was formed on the Middle Craven Fault. Instead of glacier meltwater cascading over the cliff, it cut through the rock and created the deep gorge that’s so fascinating to visit today.
Whether you stop in for afternoon tea or dinner after dancing through the Dales, the Secret Garden – with its lovely food, charming history, and breathtaking location – is sure not to disappoint.
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As the hazy sunset fades across Rystone Fell, the cosy light at The Angel spills out onto the quiet street. Widely regarded as the UK’s original gastropub, the restaurant has received a Michelin star and four AA rosettes since opening in September 2018. The chef patron Michael Wignail was crowned Chef of the Year in 2022.
A sophisticated and elegant country hotel, the ancient inn dates back to the 15th century, with its philosophy today remaining true to its roots – outstanding hospitality and breathtakingly good food. The menu, as you would expect, is carefully prepared using fresh, seasonal ingredients.
The Michelin Guide describes Chef Michael’s food as demonstrating: ‘a natural simplicity that allows every ingredient on the plate to shine.’ Starters of hare loin with parsnip, chalk stream trout with sea vegetables, and marinated scallops with buttermilk set the tone. Before mains of Shetland turbot, venison, or pigeon with autumn truffle, take centre stage. For dessert, there is tathian vanilla custard, forced rhubarb, and aerated Ivoire chocolate.
A window, ajar to the evening air, means you can hear the bubbling call of curlews carried across the fields on the summer breeze. In the winter, a crackling fire burns as the polished wine glasses bounce candlelight around the room. A fantastic base for fell-walking in the Dales, The Angel also offers nine stylish rooms. Each is homely, considered, and full of creature comforts.
Fondly known as ‘God’s own country’, offering ancient history to incredible hiking, Yorkshire is a landscape perfect for adventure. After a day exploring the heathery hills of the North York Moors National Park or crisscrossing the drystone wall jigsaw of the Yorkshire Dales, there is no greater reward than the extraordinary, fresh food of the region. Get in touch today to discuss how we can work together to create a journey of culinary delight for your clients.
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The Forge restaurant is part of the beautiful and rambling 200-acre Middleton Lodge estate. Its owners, James and Rebecca Allison, have worked hard to gradually bring the previously dormant estate back to life. They have meticulously restored and renovated many of the original buildings and added a forest spa, complete with a pool. With a focus on peace and tranquillity, Middleton Lodge offers a number of boutique accommodations which visitors can find down winding paths fringed with bluebells and shaded by big-leaf native trees.
The estate offers two restaurants: The Coach House serves delicious food all day in a relaxed setting, and The Forge offers fine dining every Thursday to Sunday evening. If the latter’s menu were a piece of music, it would sing a classical tune. Head chef, Jake Jones, wishes to create a dining experience inspired by the land and the beauty of imperfection. The estate has a large vegetable garden planted with a medley of seasonal produce. While James’ brother and cousin, both farmers, supply the estate with a consistent supply of hand-reared beef, wild game and free-range chicken.
If you choose to stay in any of the beautifully renovated accommodations, with vaulted beamed ceilings and graceful Georgian windows, you can expect to experience a slower pace of life. The estate is geared towards respite – more in tune with the melodic step of nature than in the colourful rush of a tube-station stop.
Walking among fig and apple trees in the soft, aromatic air, perhaps makes it easier to feel relaxed here than in other places. Even if you only stop in for one evening to enjoy dinner at The Forge – where the old stone walls absorb quiet conversation and the handmade pottery glows rockpool blue on tables of sanded timber – you’ll be glad that you did.
On the edge of the North York Moors, where the wind howls in the winter and the sun burns in the summer, you will find The Black Swan.
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Owned and run by the Banks family, The Black Swan offers decadent dining and warm hospitality. At the helm is the highly successful chef, Tommy Banks, who was born in Oldstead and grew up watching his family farm the land. It is unsurprising, therefore, that The Black Swan strikes the perfect balance between traditional and modern flair. The Black Swan’s menu is earthy in its undertones and dazzling in its expressions.
The menu is primarily shaped by what is grown in the gardens and the wild, natural ingredients that are foraged in the nearby fields, hills and hedgerows. Yorkshire is home to over 300 wild ingredients in the form of plants and fungi, which means there is no end to delicious, soil-fresh ingredients if you know where to look.
Monkfish, hen of the woods, miso; scallop, celeriac and truffle – the dishes at The Black Swan are original, balanced and undeniably delicious. The food here has that sought-after quality that demonstrates unwavering confidence. Unafraid of being delightfully simple, Tommy lets the fresh ingredients sing for themselves. At the same time, he is also adept at creating the tantalisingly complex – the depth of flavour created by a type of culinary alchemy. From land to larder, the menu champions Yorkshire soil, meaning every meal is as memorable as the region from which it comes.
The staff who work at the Black Swan are professionally deft at materialising when and where you need them and are a fountain of knowledge about the food, drink and secrets of the surrounding area. In late 2022, Tommy and his team updated their opening hours as part of the ongoing effort to improve work-life balance in the hospitality sector. Now closed on Sunday and Monday, the team can relax with family and friends. This innovative approach, directly challenging the status quo, places The Black Swan as one of Britain’s leading fine dining destinations.
Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that it also has a Michelin star.
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